Vitaortus Character Guest Blogger – ‘Jack’ shares his thoughts on the 1985 version of “Fright Night”

By Jack Garrity (American; 30 y.o. when turned in 1984)—Hip, Hot, Hazardous Vampire and Cinephile

Peter Vincent grows a pair

Peter Vincent grows a pair

Okay, so first, I just have to get this, uh, out of my chest: Roddy McDowall—you hurt me man; really hurt me. A Vampire killer? I grew up with you; loved you. Lassie Come Home; My Friend Flicka; How Green Was My Valley. And I can’t even believe my favorite, emotive apes, Galen or Cornelius, would stake me or burn me to a crisp. It’s not right Rod . . . just not right.

But that said, I understand this was a tongue-in-cheek flick with some great horror for the time (30 freaking years ago! Still getting used to this immortality thing). The special effects are all hand-done, pre-CGI, which deserves massive respect. So I’m giving you a pass. Plus, your coat was great.

If it’s one thing I love in my horror films, it’s humor. And this has got to be the film that inspired Joss Whedon, because the ‘Buffy’ humor sprang right from it—there’s also that facial ‘change’ thing the vampires go through when pissed-off (a state Whedon uses when his vampires feed too). That added a little something to the scenes, but didn’t make much sense overall. I don’t remember it being used in vampire films before this one. Shape-shifting does make sense though. There’s a great scene with a wolf; possibly the best death-throes scene ever. We’re right there, feeling what Roddy’s Peter Vincent does as he watches in horror and pity. It was pure camp, both funny and horrible at the same time

Seriously scary s**t

Seriously scary s**t

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The movie starts with teenagers making out, the boy, Charlie, getting frustrated when his girlfriend, Amy, won’t put out—and that clumsily declares the metaphor of the whole crazy thing: tasting forbidden fruit.

Now, I’m not with Alan Ball of True Blood on this one. I don’t like the idea of being a metaphor for sex, myself . . . at least, not always. But I get it, and I’m glad humans think vampires are sexy—we are (original literary Dracula and Nosferatu aside, and discounting some other species . . . and revenants, gross.). But I digress. I had to try to look for a bigger symbol and that was the idea of facing fears and growing up. Both Charlie and Peter do this, as does our young lady, Amy. Dandridge the Vampire is the big, bad (and alluring) truth that they all have to face and fear they have to conquer. A small part of that is ‘don’t let the sex consume you!’ For Peter Vincent, it’s ‘walk the talk!’ Be the big bad vampire killer you’ve pretended to be all this time.

Eddy goes bad

Eddy goes bad

Now a note about Edward: he’s the scariest thing in the entire film. He’s freaky, unhinged and just not cool on too many levels. I don’t get why Charlie is friends with him. He’s a mean nut-job and not too realistic as a character or pal. But he was a guilty pleasure to watch, from Dandridge seducing him to his brilliant finale. Like I said, his final scene is a doozey that deserves to be in the horror hall of fame.

I’ll give Chris Sarandon major props. There are some moments I imagine humans might find a bit chilling. He’s one of those guys that you want to like you. He’s cool and has great hair. The dance scene with Amy, crappy ‘80s pop music notwithstanding, was hot; well-done and pretty much right on the mark. We do that kind of thing. However—we would never lose our shit at the disco or anywhere else in public. In fact, we don’t lose our shit, like you see them do in werewolf movies. It’s one of a few unrealistic moments. (What?) Regardless, how could Amy not give it up for Dandridge? He takes her innocence, well, blood at least, in that very romantic and lovely scene there in his crib. Nice, by the way, with the fluffy rug and fire. Great dress, too.

Dandridge lookin' good

Dandridge lookin’ good

But let’s be clear on one thing: from the start, Dandridge gives Charlie the option of doing the right thing: live and let kill. But he doesn’t go for it, so game on. I don’t feel too sorry for Charlie after that—sucks for him that no one believes him for a while. By the way, that whole cop scene was pretty lazy film-making, if you ask me. What cop brings a kid with him? Another of those scenes that wouldn’t work if it was a straight-up serious rendition, or made today. Anyway, I feel that Dandridge got a seriously raw deal. He tried to work it out with the kid.

Dandridge lookin' freaky

Dandridge lookin’ freaky

It wouldn’t be right of me not to mention all the various forms of teeth we see: Ed’s unhygienic set of gnashers, Dandridge’s funky monster teeth, and Amy’s insane maw of fangs. Wow. Is that the first time that was ever done? I don’t know. Don’t remember anything but an honest set of fangs before that movie. But it sure added to the scare-fest—especially Amy’s!

Amy's beautiful smile

Amy’s beautiful smile

So, a few of my favorite things:

-The thoughts I’d love to hear in women’s minds about Dandridge’s long fingers.

-His apple-eating, while inaccurate, was kind of a nice touch—very cool. But vampire bats don’t eat fruit.

-His silence when predating.

-His whistling ‘Strangers in the Night’ when going to get Charlie.

-When Charlie’s mother asks, “Do you want a valium?”

-When Peter Vincent says, as all the clocks strike dawn, “You’re out of time, Mr. Dandridge!”

So on the vamp hair scale, 5 out of 5. Sarandon was a great vampire.

On the vamp tale scale, 3 out of 5. A little too fanciful for this vampire’s liking.

On the vamp entertainment importance meter, 5 out of 5, because it marked a turning point in vampire fiction and was actually pretty original. And Roddy McDowall!

But Rod, may you rest in peace . . . ouch!

Comments

  1. I can’t help but wonder his thoughts on Lost Boys instead.

    • Interesting that you should bring that up, Katja, because it was next on the list. Jack might review it, but I had someone else in mind. However, re-watching the film is in order. Perhaps it, itself, will dictate it’s choice!

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