Monday, October 22, 2018

Your Daily Scare: Fright Night

"Welcome to ... FRIGHT NIGHT"

A lot of great horror movies came out in the 1980s. The Thing, Halloween. But they weren't "'80s horror movies." '80s horror movies were movies I stayed up until 3 a.m. watching on Cinemax while at my permissive father's house. They were more fun than scary, although they'll goose a few jump scares; the monsters are made with practical effects that are evenly split between goofy and gruesome; the women have huge hair and bountiful boobs, which you're guaranteed to see before the final credits start scrolling.

If you're looking for a film with all of those qualities, I'm delighted to introduce  Fright Night, a 1985 shocker that has retained its reputation thanks to its wit and energy.

Charlie, the main character, is a suburban teen whose interests are horror movies and talking his girlfriend (Amanda Bearse) out of her clothes ... actually in that order. He becomes much more interested in the former when a vampire moves in, and Charlie needs advice to dispatch the baddie. He turns to Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), the hammy host of a late-night horror-movie marathon of the type that still ran on cable in those years.

The whole thing is a hoot. Sarandon is sinister and oily as the vamp, and grows more so as the film goes on; by the time it's over you're not sure whether he's going to chomp on your neck or drive you to Jazzercise in his convertible. McDowell is having a ton of fun as the blustery Vincent; and  Bearse gets to have a great time when her stodgy girlfriend takes a late turn toward the wicked. (Vaguely sourced internet reports say she used to bring her fake boobs to conventions and allow awed fans to squeeze them.) The effects hold up surprisingly well - a couple of shots haven't aged great, but most of the monster makeup is still arresting.

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