|Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent|
FRIGHT NIGHT (1985). Writer/director: Tom Holland.
High school student Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) becomes convinced that his new next-door neighbor Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire who is preying upon women in the neighborhood, but he has trouble convincing his girlfriend, Amy (Amanda Bearse), let alone the police. When Jerry tells Charley that his days are numbered, the desperate boy appeals to local television celebrity Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), who hosts a movie program called "Fright Night" and played a vampire hunter countless times in the cinema. Unfortunately, Vincent has no real skill at killing vampires and is horrified at the whole situation, first thinking Charley is unhinged, and almost becoming unhinged himself when he discovers the lad is telling the truth. When Amy is kidnapped by Jerry, these two unlikely vampire hunters have to gather up their courage to take action ... Fright Night skillfully blends suspense, scares, sensuality and humor in an absorbing and very entertaining movie that features top-notch performances from all of the named principals, as well as good work from Stephen Geoffreys as Charley's friend "Evil" Ed, and Jonathan Stark as Jerry's non-vampire but hardly human helpmate. One clever scene has Amy dancing with Jerry in a disco, glancing in the wall-length mirror, and seeing that she's apparently dancing with herself -- vampires cast no reflection. Excellent special effects throughout as well. Followed by Fright Night Part 2 and remade in 2011; this version was also good but had a lot less charm.
Verdict: Rousing, light-hearted horror thriller. ***.