Splatter Time Fun Fest 2014: Fright Night (1985)

fright night

Evil isn’t the right word, annoying is more apropos!

Written By: Tom Holland
Directed By: Tom Holland

I enjoyed Fright Night a fair amount. There were elements of the film that impressed me, but there were a few elements that fell flat. Overall what I liked about Fright Night outweighed what I didn’t like, but by the slimmest of margins. I guess, for me it came down to whether or not I had fun and enjoyed watching Tom Holland’s film. I can unequivocally say that I did have fun and enjoy watching Mr. Holland’s film.

Let’s start with what didn’t work for me, Evil Ed. Talk about an annoying character, he killed the film every time he popped up. I’m not sure whether to blame Stephen Geoffreys or Mr. Holland’s writing and directing. Mr. Geoffrey’s never did much to show that he is much of an actor. However, the root problem with Evil Ed is that he is as annoying of a character as I’ve ever come across in film. He’s supposed to be that way though, and that’s why I lean towards laying the blame at the feet of Mr. Holland. In his head, and when he put pen to paper, he probably thought Evil Ed would be a great sidekick character. Somewhere things went awry with Evil Ed and he turned into an annoying little prick who sucks the life out of the film.

On the other end of the spectrum are Chris Sarandon as Jerry Dandridge, and Roddy McDowell as Peter Vincent. Those two actors find the line between grandstanding hamminess and well timed charm. They straddle that line wonderfully and provide two quality performances, as well as two characters who I got a kick out of spending time with. Of the two I’m more a fan of Mr. Sarandon’s Jerry, as he’s charismatic and old school vampire in all the right ways. He’s also subtly homosexual and that leads me to believe that Mr. Sarandon took it upon himself to add that trait to the character. Either way, Misters Sarandon and McDowell are easily the reasons why Fright Night works as a film.

I could also appreciate the practical effects work of Richard Edlund. He didn’t knock it out of the park, the ridiculous looking wolf writhing on the floor immediately springs to mind, but he did the sort of job where I loved the gooeyness of it all. There’s something to be said about a character having green sludge coming out of his body and me believing that could happen while being repulsed at the same time.

Fright Night doesn’t exactly qualify as an all-time horror classic in my eyes. It has some fun moments and it is an enjoyable motion picture with an eye towards old school horror. That being said, it’s a little creaky when it comes to the supporting cast and any movie with a character like Evil Ed is bound to fall short of the classic label. Still, Fright Night is the very definition of a fun horror film, and for that I give Fright Night the props it deserves.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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