To genre fans who were around in the 1980s, Tom Holland’s 1985 feature film debut, Fright Night, holds a special place in their hearts. Conjuring up many a memory of classic horrors of yesteryear, Holland’s comedy-horror is revered as a favourite by plenty of genre fans, but, with the film now re-released on Blu-ray from the excellent guys at Eureka Entertainment, is Fright Night really as good as we all remember, or is it merely a case of nostalgic sheen papering over a film that’s ultimately not aged well?
For those not familiar with Fright Night - and no, we're not talking about the needless 2011 remake - the basic plot centres around a monster-obsessed teenager and the apparent vampire who has just moved in next door to him. The teen in question, young Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale), insists that there’s far more to his charismatic new neighbour, Jerry (Chris Sarandon), than what his welcoming smile would have you believe, and he’s determined to prove as much to girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) and bestest bed ‘Evil’ Ed (Stephen Geoffreys). With nobody willing to entertain the notion that Charlie’s suave new neighbour is really a no-good bloodsucker, he has no other option but to turn to his hero, his idol, his role model: famed vampire hunter, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall)! Unfortunately for Charlie, it turns out that the man he’s seen battling beast after beast on the big and small screens is no more of a vampire hunter than he is, for Vincent is just an actor playing the role of a Van Helsing-esque sort. But when Charlie manages to convince his faux hero that vampires really do exist, it’s down to this pair to pool their resources and combine their supposed knowledge on all things that go bump in the night in order to take down this Lord of Darkness.
Fright Night is pure and simply an unadulterated romp of a movie. From start to finish, this is a film that is overflowing with respectful homages and winks to the horror classics that proceeded it. Hell, even its not-so-fearless vampire hunter is a nice nod to two of horror’s biggest names, with the Peter Vincent character named in honour of both Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. And then there’s the influence of Alfred Hitchcock loud and proudly displayed throughout certain parts of the movie, particularly the early tease and suspense that maybe, just maybe, Jerry could well be a bloodsucking vampire.
As is ever the case with Eureka’s re-releases of the past several years, Fright Night has never looked better. The film itself may now be over 30 years old, but this crisp, vibrant transfer of Holland’s debut picture makes it look phenomenal. Adding even further to the excellence of this release – again, as has become a Eureka trademark – is the fantastic bonus features included in this package. The electronic press kit is a fascinating read, and getting the chance to see some of the film’s key players reunite in 2008 is a nice touch, but it’s the brand new 2-hour documentary – You’re So Cool, Brewster! – that particularly stands out and is something that will be hugely appreciated by longtime fans of this much-loved movie.
A playful, loving homage to the golden age of horror, yet completely its own beastly fun ride of frights and thrills, Fright Night still has as much bite today as it ever has, and this new release is simply a must-have for any and all fans of this beloved ‘80s favourite.
Special Features: ‘You’re So Cool, Brewster!’ new 2-hour documentary Four featurettes / Fear Fest 2008 Reunion Panel / Vintage electronic press kit / Stills and memorabilia gallery / Theatrical trailers
FRIGHT NIGHT / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: TOM HOLLAND / STARRING: WILLIAM RAGSDALE, CHRIS SARANDON, AMANDA BEARSE, RODDY MCDOWALL, STEPHEN GEOFFREYS / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 27TH