Halloween Month: “Oh, You’re So Cool Brewster” “Fright Night” Revisited!
Having now finally seen the original “Fright Night” a follow up review to the 2011 version is essential. Without drawing too many comparisons; I intend to view both films as individual texts and as products of the times they were released. Back in 1985, horror films in general were dominated by the slasher sub-genre demonstrated the popularity of the now iconic serial killers Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kruger; this was emphasised in the dialogue spoken by vampire slayer Peter Vincent (Played by Roddy McDowall) “Apparently your generation doesn’t want to see vampire killers anymore, nor vampires either. All they want to see slashers running around in ski masks, hacking up young virgins.” The genre had expanded vastly since the days of the “Monster Movies” of the 1930’s however it was now time to revive the world’s most infamous monsters: The Vampires and bring them into a 1980’s context. Later influencing another vampire favourite of mine “The Lost Boys” (1987).
As I concluded with the remake; “Fright Night” is simply good, fun, cheesy horror that shouldn’t be taken seriously; its the same case for the original. The most impressive factor that the film delivered was its make up effects, back in the days in a world where CGI was non-existent (even before my time!), prosthetics were used in order to enhance the audiences sense of escapism and challenge their disbelief. In certain instances FX has proven more effective than than the CGI and 3D that we are subjected to in the majority of today’s films; most notably in 1981’s “An American Werewolf In London” which was ahead of its time. “Fright Night” pays homage to its transformation scene and portrays it slowly and painfully resulting in an agonising reaction from the viewer. The majority of the gore featured is perfect 80’s campiness and gross-out horror!
Performance-wise Chris Sarandon’s portrayal of Jerry the Vampire was approached sinisterly but also entertaining to watch; his scenes filled the movie with edge-of-your-seat tension. Roddy McDowall’s character appeared as the traditional perception of the slayer similarly to the Van Helsing prototype. Vincent was both cowardly and endearing, he also added a sense of wisdom to the piece in comparison to David Tennant’s younger, more sexualised portrayal in the remake. However both characters in the two adaptations were very entertaining; maintaining similar and dissimilar qualities. The romance sub-plot between Charley (Played by William Ragsdale) and Amy (Played by Amanda Bearse) in this version didn’t feel as well-developed and didn’t feel as necessary. The dynamic between Charley and Evil Ed (Played by Stephen Geoffreys) proved far more interesting to watch. Tom Holland brought intensity and dark atmosphere to the direction. The narrative featuring the concept of having a monster as your next door neighbour is a fun but twisted notion. It welcomes these aged-old creatures into the modern day and takes away the separate worlds of the monster’s castle or lair and the secure, familiar home environment and blends them together.
On the whole “Fright Night” (1985) featured very intense moments, special effects ahead of its time, and enjoyable performances. Its fun, its gory, its campy, its so 80’s!
In Conclusion I appreciate both version’s as they serve a purpose to the time they were made, and both portray vampires just the way I like them; bloodthirsty and badass!
Hayley Alice Roberts.