Film: Fright Night

"Welcome to Fright Night... for real!"

Fright Night is a 1985 vampire movie directed by Tom Holland and starring Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, and Roddy McDowall.

Charley Brewster (Ragsdale) is a teenage boy who loves watching horror movies on late-night television while making out with his girlfriend Amy (Bearse), who he pretends is helping him study. One night, he sees two men, Jerry Dandridge (Sarandon) and Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark), carrying a coffin into the house next door, and makes the natural (to him) assumption that a vampire has moved in. Soon after, dead prostitutes start being reported, and Charley actually sees Jerry attack a woman while looking out his bedroom window. When Jerry attacks him late one night to scare him away from investigating further, Charley's suspicions are only confirmed.

Charley first seeks help from Amy and his friend "Evil" Ed Thompson (Stephen Geoffreys), who both think he's crazy, and then from Peter Vincent (McDowall), former B-movie actor turned host of the late-night horror program Fright Night. After some goading, the four of them arrange to meet Jerry to test whether he's a vampire, though secretly, everyone except Charley is actually trying to "prove" to him that Jerry's not a vampire. However, when Peter notices Jerry's lack of a reflection, he quickly realizes that the boy is right. He and Charley decide to meet up to stake the vampire before he kills him and his friends.

Fright Night was followed by a sequel in 1989, aptly titled Fright Night Part II. William Ragsdale and Roddy McDowall reprise their roles as Charley and Peter respectively, with Julie Carmen and Traci Lind joining the cast. Set a few years after the first film, the second movie follows Charley (now attending college) and Peter as they battle the seductive vampire Regine (Carmen), who's out for revenge on both Charley and Peter for their role in Jerry's death, and decides the best way to make Charley pay is to turn him into a vampire. Now it falls to Peter and Charley's new girlfriend Alex (Lind) to save Charley from A Fate Worse Than Death.

A remake, Fright Night (2011) starring Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, David Tennant and Toni Collette was released in 2011. It drops the Peter Vincent Becoming the Mask story and turns Charley into a Buffy-type character, with Jerry resembling the evil version of Spike and Peter now a Vegas showman instead of a former actor. Tropes for the remake go on its own page.

Both the original and the remake have garnered positive reviews.

The original 1985 film and its sequel contains the following tropes:

  • Adult Fear: Not being able to protect loved ones.
    Amy: You said you wouldn't let him get me, Charley.
  • Affably Evil: Jerry, Regine. Jerry becomes more like Faux Affably Evil later on.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Jerry seduces young girls and young boys, and has a very close relationship with Billy Cole.
  • Bad Ass Longcoat
    • Jerry is often seen in a villainous one.
    • Peter Vincent also wears one.
  • Badass Normal: Charley, Peter, Alex.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: In a variant, Jerry shows off his undead muscles by effortlessly lifting open a window Charley had spent the afternoon nailing shut. This, after casually flicking the latch off its frame.
  • Becoming the Mask: Peter
  • Berserk Button / Embarrassing Nickname: Ed hates being called "Evil."
  • Big Bad
    • Jerry, natch!
    • In the sequel, it's his sister, Regine.
  • Big Damn Heroes
  • Big "NO!"
    • Jerry gets one off just before transforming into a bat.
    • Charley when he discovers Amy's been vampirized.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Both Jerry and Regine.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Amy when Charlie finds her in Jerry's house. It's seems to be a process of the transformation as she regains her pupils after completely turning.
  • Body Horror
  • Bookends: The film begins and ends with Charley and Amy necking in Charley's bedroom. The television even Lampshades it with a character yelling, "Look! We're back where we started from!"
  • Brainwashed: During the nightclub sequence.
  • Bring It: Jerry Dandridge to Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent inside the mansion.
  • Broken Pedestal: Ed to Peter after he's been turned into a vampire.
  • Call Back: In the sequel, when Peter tries wielding his crucifix against her, Regine tells him, "You need to have faith."
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Peter Vincent initially refuses to help Charlie against Dandridge, but later shows up as an ally.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe
  • Coming-Out Story: For Ed, it seems.
  • Contemptible Cover: The somewhat goofy looking vampire on the case doesn't mesh with the fact that this is a horror film, not a spoof.
  • Cool Old Guy: Peter, especially in the sequel.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Peter in the first half.
  • Demon Head
  • Designated Girl Fight: Regine and Alex
  • Disappeared Dad
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Played by former Playboy Playmate Heidi Sorenson. Also, She's Got Legs.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Ed's seduction can be viewed as a Coming-Out Story (especially with Geoffrey's Reality Subtext.)
  • Dying as Yourself: Evil Ed.
  • The End... Or Is It? : Charlie saves Amy and all is well then the final shot of the movie focus on Jerry's house and we see glowing eyes looking at the pair through the window and hear Evil Ed's voice. Indicating he's still alive and the new vampire of the neighborhood. Eh, least he'll be friendlier then Jerry.
  • Enemy Rising Behind
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Regine in the sequel.
  • Even Evil Has Standards
  • Evil Overlooker: This film uses a variation: villain as an evil cloud.
  • Game Face
  • Gilligan Cut: Charley learns that a vampire cannot enter your home unless invited by the owners. Guess what he finds out a few seconds later in the next scene?
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Ed, in the ending, from Jerry's house.
  • Gorn
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: Billy Cole's death in the first one once he gets staked; Belle and Bocworth in the sequel.
  • Happily Ever After
    • Debatable. The good news is Peter Vincent and Charley are now aware of vampires and how to stop/kill them, Amy is saved, Charley's mom is fine and the vampire and his ghoul are dead. But the bad news is vampires still exist, no-one will believe them, and Evil is now a vampire with good reason to kill Charley or turn Amy. Though considering neither he's no where to be found in the sequel. It's likely this was just put in there as a jump scare.
    • Ed could have also realized staying in the only part of America people know how to kill vampires in is being Too Dumb to Live.
    • In the sequel, Charley was bitten, but the deaths of the vampires just cancel that out.
  • Heroic Willpower
  • Hidden Depths: Ed in particular. In some small moments, or when he's alone, and his goofy, mocking nature is gone, he's quite a pathetic, lonely geek with almost no friends, who is probably struggling with gay feelings. No wonder he's easy prey for Jerry.
  • Holy Burns Evil
  • Horror Host: Peter Vincent
  • How Do You Like Them Apples?: Jerry Dandridge likes them. A lot, actually.
  • Hypnotize the Princess: Jerry to Amy.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Peter Vincent gets offended when Charlie accuses him of having not used real holy water when they're testing to see if Jerry is actually a vampire, despite the fact that that's exactly what he did.
    • Granted, they were trying to trick Charlie into leaving Jerry alone and drop his whole vampire obsession, but Vincent acts genuinely offended by it.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: A subversion, when Evil Ed yanks Charley's chain by claiming he's been bitten by the vampire and needs to be killed. Naturally, that's exactly what happens to Ed as soon as Charley stomps off in anger.
  • Idiot Ball
    • At one point, Charley gets a cop over to Jerry's house on false pretenses and tells him that there is a coffin in the basement, but then lets slip in a near-frenzy that it contains a vampire. Had he instead told the officer that the coffin contained one of the recent unsolved murder victims, then the game would have been over for the antagonists. The man would have found the sleeping vampire (to his eyes, a corpse) in the coffin and arrested Billy Cole for murdering his friend, blowing the pair's cover, or alternately faced far-too-suspicious reluctance from Billy to let him down there. Either way, the rest of the film could not have occurred. Not to mention Charley let The Renfield know he was on to them. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
    • Jerry himself has a moment like this when he attacks Charlie. Despite already breaking the frame on the door to his mother's room, he stops attacking Charlie and leaves when his mother wakes up, despite the fact that there's no way to interrupt him. Made especially egregious when his mother yells that she can't get out of her room. Jerry could have killed Charlie right there, but instead opts to run and make a threatening phone call.
      • Jerry would have to off Charlie's mother, and two corpses would bring investigators to search their neighbors - something Jerry definitely does not want. Besides, he wants to intimidate Charlie at that point, not kill him.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty
  • Inertial Impalement: A vampirized Evil Ed (in wolf form) is attacking Peter Vincent. A wooden bannister railing is broken and Peter grabs a piece of it. When Evil Ed charges he is impaled on the wooden pole, returns to human form and apparently dies.
  • Invisible Parents: We never see Evil Ed's or Amy's parents.
  • It's Personal
  • Kick the Dog
  • Kiss of the Vampire
  • Large Ham
    • Jerry and Peter.
    • Also Evil Ed "Dinner is in the oven! MMM-MMM!" "Oh, you're so cool, Brewster!"
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Charley to Peter while they're looking for the coffin in the basement.
  • Loud Gulp: Peter does one after finding out Evil Ed has become a vampire, thanks to Jerry.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Used in the opening sequence.
  • Mercy Kill: Peter's killing Ed.
  • Mood Whiplash
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The vampires' Game Face looks like this. Especially Amy's. This is foreshadowed when we hear Jerry take a bite — just one — from an apple. We don't see his teeth at the time, but when he tosses the apple aside, most of the middle of the apple is gone.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Peter's reaction to killing Ed.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed
  • No Ontological Inertia: When the vampire Jerry Dandridge is destroyed, Amy returns to normal.
  • No Sell: The first time Peter Vincent confronts Jerry Dandridge with a cross:
    Peter Vincent: (brandishing a crucifix) "Back, spawn of Satan!"
    Jerry Dandridge: (chuckles) "Oh, really?" (grabs the cross, crushes it, and throws it aside) "You have to have faith for this to work on me!"
  • Offscreen Teleportation: To go along with Jerry's Unflinching Walk. (Sharp ears can hear a subtle "whoosh".)
  • Oh, Crap
    • When Charley realizes that it's almost sunset and that Jerry will soon learn that he knows about him.
    • Peter when he looks in his pocket mirror and sees that Jerry has no reflection.
  • One-Winged Angel
  • Only Sane Man
  • Our Vampires Are Different
    • Averted, as the film sticks pretty close to the Classical Movie Vampire. It even takes a note from Bram Stoker that it ain't the crucifix that harms vampires, but the faith being inspired by them. One minor deviation is that Jerry eats fruit, whereas the classic film vampire can only stomach blood. Apparently Chris Sarandon suggested that the guy has a bit of fruit bat in him as well as vampire bat, and the director figured "Hey, why not?" Of course, even if Jerry can't digest apples, they are a good natural way of cleaning teeth.
    • However, in this film, apparently removing the stake revives the vampire.
    • Also plays with Our Ghouls Are Different, when Peter wrongly assumes that Billy must be human because he walks around in the daylight. But that only means he's not a vampire...
  • Our Werewolves Are Different
    • No werewolves. Transforming into wolves is one of the vampire lores.
    • Played straight in the sequel when a werewolf does actually show up.
  • Pivotal Wake-up: Jerry
  • Police Are Useless
  • Posters Always Spoil: You see that giant Nightmare Face on the poster up above? That's Amy's main Game Face after she gets turned.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Vampires in human, wolf and bat forms.
  • Reincarnation Romance
  • The Renfield: Billy Cole
  • Riddle for the Ages: Just what, exactly, Billy Cole was is never explained. Word of God confirmed he's an undead corpse that Jerry brought back to life as his slave, which isn't out of the question in terms of old vampire lore.
  • Sad Clown. Ed. It's obvious he's hurt and lonely (and probably carrying a torch for Charlie), but buries it in loud chuckles and laughter. Of course, this means he becomes a Monster Clown later.
  • Safety In Muggles: Subverted, hiding from Jerry in a nightclub doesn't stop him from kidnapping Charlie's girlfriend.
  • Shout-Out: Peter Vincent is almost certainly named after Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, stars of the Hammer Horror films at their peak.
  • Show Within a Show: Peter Vincent hosts a late-night horror show called Fright Night of which Charley is a fan.
  • Skeptic No Longer: Let's just say that the next time Peter puts a crucifix in Dandridge's face, after Peter has killed a vampirized Evil Ed, it turns out very differently for Dandridge.
  • Stylistic Suck: Peter Vincent's late-night horror program, and his movies. In the one seen at the beginning, he holds his stake the wrong way when threatening the female vampire.
  • Super Loser: Evil Ed.
  • Survival Mantra:
    Peter: I am Peter Vincent, the great vampire killer. I am Peter Vincent, the great vampire killer...
  • Take That: Peter Vincent gives one in-universe to the Slasher Movie genre of the '80s:
    Peter: "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."
  • This Was His True Form
    • "Evil" Ed after his "death".
    • The same for werewolf Louie in the sequel.
  • Token Minority: Belle in the sequel.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: A powerful ancient vampire's name is Jerry.
  • Took a Level in Badass
  • Transformation Sequence
  • Un Evil Laugh: Evil Ed.
  • Undeath Always Ends
  • Vampire Hunter
  • Vampire Invitation
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: In Jerry's case, both sexes.
  • Vampire Dance
  • Villainous BSOD: When Charlie successfully uses a crucifix against Jerry. Unfortunately, Billy Cole takes matters into his own hands.
  • Weakened by the Light: When Charlie and Peter Vincent confront the vampire Jerry Dandridge in the cellar where his coffin is located, they destroy him by ripping the coverings off the windows and allowing the sunlight inside.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Peter, but he gets better.
  • Who You Gonna Call?
  • The Worm That Walks: Bocworth in the sequel.
  • You Have to Believe Me: Charley is terrible at acting rational. Even if he was talking about something completely normal, people probably wouldn't' believe him.

Alternative Title(s):

Fright Night Part 2