Director: Tom Holland (no, not that Tom Holland)
Cast: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Stephen Geoffreys, Roddy McDowell
Have I Seen it Before: No.
Did I Like It: I feel like I might have missed that window.
It can be difficult to watch a bona fide classic for the first time. You feel like you need to see what everyone else saw, and because you are too much in your own head and wrapped up in expectations, the film may not measure up.
A similar phenomenon can be observed when one watches a more modern classic. If you didn’t witness a movie while you were still in your formative years, there may not be much there for you in the harsh light of adulthood. Such thoughts make me wonder what my reaction might be to films I love like Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) or even Back to the Future (1985) if I had watched them now instead of in my childhood.
So, too is it with Fright Night. I missed what might have been charming about this film by a couple of years. It is a movie that is less than two hours long, but feels interminable. I had to watch it in two different sittings, and I wasn’t exactly leaping at the opportunity to finish the work when the opportunity came around.
If it is to be accepted as a pure horror movie, it is strangely bereft of dread, terror, or even moments that startle. If it is to be taken as a comedy, it’s not funny in any measurable way. If it is supposed to be a coming-of-age story, then any character needed to engage in some kind of change or growth, but alas, aside from the death of a few day-players and the two heavies, everyone in the film is much as we found them.
Even the plot—such as it is—falls apart under the slightest scrutiny, and such analysis is the only pleasure I found during the course of the movie. The conceit or pitch of the film is that a fan of horror movies finds that a vampire has moved in. Only Charlie Brewster (Ragsdale) is such an inept entity, that he immediately has to get a gross tonne of exposition regarding basic Vampire precautions from Evil Ed (Geoffreys). Had he been a true horror fan, or really been alive in any way, then the cross and the garlic thing should have been already known by both Brewster and—to nullify any arguments that such a clunky move was necessary—the audience.
I want to join the people who like this movie, but sadly can not. Or will not. Not all fondly remembered 80s movies are created equal.