We’re all stuck in the house, right? There’s never been a better time to dig into those retro movies that you’ve always wanted to watch, but never had the time for. Personally, I’m a bit of a retrophile and tend to watch more older flicks than newer ones. On Fangirlish, you can now look forward to a retro review from me each Wednesday in this column. I’ll be highlighting one throwback movie a week, offering a spoiler-free review of the film, any throwback thoughts from my childhood, and where you can watch the movie yourself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy #WayBackWednesday.
Fright Night is a somewhat recent watch for me, despite the film being 35 years old. I was introduced to Fright Night through one of my favorite podcasts–Saturday Frights. I started listening to Saturday Frights long before I actually liked horror movies. I listened out of respect for the host, Vic Sage, as an authority on all things retro, but especially in the science fiction and horror film/television realms.
I admire Vic’s passion for the genre, but what hooked me was that while I was horror-averse, I actually found the films Vic described interesting from a story perspective. It helped motivate me to try the horror genre. Fright Night is one of the films Vic covers in the earliest run of the podcast. It wasn’t long after listening to his two-parter on the film that I finally saw Fright Night. Check out the trailer for Fright Night and we’ll get started with #WayBackWednesday.
My first viewing of Fright Night was a special one. As I have mentioned in my horror writing here on Fangirlish, my local theater, The Ayrsley Grand, does a retro horror double feature each week during the month of October. The very first year I attended their retro horror film fest back in 2016, I was treated to a vampire-themed double feature of Fright Night and The Lost Boys. It was great to experience this film for the first time on the big screen.
Fright Night tells the story of Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) a high school kid who believes his next-door neighbor, Jerry, (Chris Sarandon) to be a vampire. While everyone thinks Charley is losing it, Charley’s girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) solicits the help of B-horror film and television star, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) to determine if Charley really is losing his mind or if there is more to Jerry than meets the eye.
Fright Night walks the line between horror and comedy masterfully, creating a delightfully cheesy, yet eerie film. A great cast, fun 80s soundtrack, and pleasantly creepy score, all make Fright Night a love letter to horror fans everywhere. Here are a few fun facts about the film that I hope will entice you to check it out.
- The character of Peter Vincent was written with horror fixture, Vincent Price, in mind. However, when writer and director Tom Holland (no, that not Tom Holland) approached Price about the film, he passed, as Price felt he was a bit typecast at this point in his career. Roddy McDowall accepted the role, and I am so glad he did.
- If Fright Night’s suave vampire, Chris Sarandon, looks familiar, that’s likely because you know him better as Prince Humperdink from The Princess Bride.
- The soundtrack for Fright Night is a real banger of 80s pop. Songs by Autograph, Devo, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Sparks, and The J. Geils Band all feature, with The J. Geils Band performing the theme of the film, “Fright Night.” Add some of these to your Halloween playlist for some fun and thematic tracks to spook up your Halloween festivities.
- Fright Night got a sequel in 1988, Fright Night Part 2, and a reboot in 2011. The reboot features Colin Farrell as Jerry, the late, great Anton Yelchin as Charley, the AMAZING Toni Collette as Mrs. Brewster, Imogen Poots as Amy, and the always brilliant David Tennant as Peter Vincent. The 2011 reboot also got a sequel in 2013, Fright Night 2, but it was direct-to-video and is completely different from Fright Night Part 2. I haven’t seen these films yet, but I am intrigued by the reboot, just for the cast alone.
Want to learn more about Fright Night? Check out the two-part episode on Fright Night from Saturday Frights. You can listen to part 1 and part 2 on The Internet Archive.