Viking Night: Fright Night

By Bruce Hall

February 24, 2015

Oh, fine. I'll be a vampire for you, Chris Sarandon.

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Oh no! I'm a teenager and there's a vampire living next door!

Man, those guys over at Disney think of everything, don't they? Except this isn't a G-Rated Disney film. No singing teapots or talking squirrels here. This is a mildly amusing, surprisingly gory R-Rated Columbia flick about - you guessed it - a kid with a very scary new neighbor. Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is a relatively clean-cut suburban teen who's looking to jump over to the wild side by getting busy with his long time girlfriend, Amy (Amanda Bearse). The two get together regularly at Charley's to um..."do homework" and watch their favorite TV show, Fright Night. The host of thus UHF schlockfest is a washed up horror movie star called Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), whose trademark shtick is "the world's greatest vampire hunter."

Note to my 1980s self - this is what happens when your parents are too cheap to get cable. Do something about it.

Anyway, as the film opens, Charley's suffering from a case of hot rocks as Amy has once again spurned his advances, no doubt reluctant to be deflowered by a guy who dresses like Dick Clark. With nothing else to do, Charley focuses his attention on some weird goings on with his new next door neighbor. He spots two men carrying a coffin into the cellar - not something you see every day. Soon after - because nobody ever closes their windows in the movies - he spots his new neighbor entertaining a beautiful young woman, and also biting her in the neck and draining her like a juice box. Obviously the guy is a blood-sucking freak, and one who doesn't seem particularly keen on keeping it a secret. Charley is spotted, but for now the dastardly demon is content to taunt the boy from afar.


Soon, more women disappear, although not entirely, because they do find the heads. So at this point, Charley has two problems. Or four, really, if you count both of Amy's cold shoulders.

What would you do if you lived next door to a serial killer, and he knew that you knew? And you knew that he knew you knew? If your answer involves soiling yourself, an anonymous call to the police and quietly leaving town under an assumed name, then congratulations. You are normal. If, on the other hand, you said "drag my friends into it, openly accuse him and make myself a delicious, fleshy target," then you are an "idiot," which is derived from an ancient Greek word meaning "Charley Brewster." To everyone else, Jerry Danbridge (Chris Sarandon) is a witty, urbane man about town who never seems to be available during the day. To Charley, he's the superhuman hellspawn who has promised to make the talkative teen his next victim.

Naturally, Charley's only chance is to join forces with his best friend, class pariah "Evil" Ed (Stephen Geoffreys), and now ex-girlfriend Amy, and take on evil mano a mano. Wait, that's not crazy enough. They also approach Peter Vincent, who only fights fake vampires on late night TV. They alone can stop Jerry's evil, snarky, metrosexual killing spree and save the town from ruin.

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