This may have been one of the few times that I foreshadowed a Vault Pick in a regular review then actually followed through with it. In fact, if I were to go back thru my old reviews I would probably find more than a few instances where I missed opportunities to use a Vault Pick I had eluded to. Well that wasn't the case this time around. And I'm even ignoring the fact that the Halloween month is just around the corner when this selection would have been more appropriate.
The minute I saw the first trailer for the updated "Fright Night" memories of the original came flashing back. So much so that I was a little put off by the fact they were even trying to remake an 80s classic. It was yet another attempt of Hollywood to further destroy some of the epics movies for that decade. I really shouldn't have been surprised. In fact, a small part of me was a little glad they were doing it.
Inevitably what happens when Hollywood remakes is a movie is they reintroduce a new generation to the original film that spawned it. It's been going on for years. Just as when I was a kid I can remember finding out that one of my favorites, "Heaven Can Wait" (yep...just found another future Vault Pick) came from the black and white film "Here Comes Mr. Jordan". Now for me, I found that the original paled in comparison. However, I would not have even known about the original were it not for the update with Warren Beatty.
As for the 1985 "Fright Night" on the other hand? Kids these days would be crazy not to appreciate its greatness. Starting with the very core of the story itself. How many curious kids didn't think that the mysterious neighbor was secretly some type of murderer that was out to get them if their secret was ever found out? Sure...maybe not a vampire..but definitely some type of killer.
For me it was the house across the street that sat in a wooded area that was oddly out of place. I just knew that one night its inhabitant(s) would go on a serial killing rampage. That was one of the main reasons I was somewhat encouraged by the fact that my room sat in the corner. At least when the killing spree started I would have time to get out to safety. Of course that was assuming that the assailants would enter from the main door rather than from a bedroom window.
Something else that rang so true was the role of Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall). Here's a guy that hosted a late night campy tv horror show. Those were all the rage in the 80s. Thanks to folks like Elvira who made the genre popular (need I explain why?). Probably the only reason the genre didn't survive is because those type of shows always came on late Saturday nites when ratings would be low. People were always out kicking it instead of watching tv. Well I wasn't so I was always watching. I LOVED those shows.
Then there was Chris Sarandon as the Jerry the vampire. When you think about it it was rather a tough role to play. He had to be engaging, charming, dangerous, witty, mysterious and oh yeah...part monster. Dude accomplished every single one of those. He had you thinking if you had to live next to a vampire maybe he wouldn't be so bad to be that one. As long as you stayed on his good side. Because you knew if you didn't that he was not the one to be trifled with. It was one of the better vampire portrayals that we had seen on screen in quite a while.
There are a couple of things I will never forget about that original "Fright Night". One was the scene where Jerry uttered the now epic line "Welcome....to....Fright Night.....for real!" I know it wasn't me that found that memorable since it was used again in the remake. The other thing was the fact that this movie featured a young Amanda Bearse before she would make it big as the neighbor on "Married with Children". No matter how many times I saw that show all I could think of was her as the girlfriend in this flick.
Looking back now, the special effects left much to be desired. I still think they did that on purpose though. They could have invested more time into that to make it more frightening, but the movie would have then lost some of its overall cheese. They put it just enough so that it wouldn't look entirely hokey but it would still have a bit of an edge to it. Enough so that "Fright Night" would continue to be talked about years later. Mission accomplished. To this day whenever I hear "Fright Night" it is this movie that comes to mind no matter what type of remake Hollywood tries to throw at us.