“Welcome to Fright Night! For real.”
What do you get when you cross Rear Window, vampires, and the ’80s? Only one of the most fun horror films of the decade! Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is your average teenager whose biggest problems are pop quizzes and getting to 2nd base; but when a mysterious man with strange habits moves in next door, his world becomes slightly more complicated. Mr. Dandrige (Chris Sarandon) is charming, seductive, and he has a thing for coffins. As Charley’s peeping reveals his neighbor’s true nature he has to fight to protect his friends and family as well as himself, and of course nobody believes him. He even enlists the help of local, vampire slaying celebrity Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowell), who only plays along to disprove Charley’s allegations…that is until he realizes that Dandrige is in fact a vampire. Together they fumble their way through one sticky situation after another as they try to rescue Charley’s girlfriend (Amanda Bearse) from an eternity with the undead.
It’s all here, from the teen angst to the gratuitous nudity to the ’80s-tastic soundtrack featuring Devo and the J. Geils Band. But nostalgia aside, what I love most about the film is that it’s self-aware and has a great tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. I’d say it’s similar to something like Shaun of the Dead, where it holds up as a genre film and adheres to the conventions, but also successfully parodies that genre. The humor works mostly due to Chris Sarandon’s performance as a sexually ambiguous, yet deliciously villainous vampire. He torments this poor teenager for the fun of it, and the viewer has fun right along with him. After all, what good is it being a vampire if you’re not going to be stereotypically sexy and witty about it?