Better Viewing Through Cosmic Cognizance By Fred E. Frederick
(a.k.a. Cosmic Charlie)
Fright Night is the 1985 answer to what I would do if I found out if my neighbor were a vampire. That answer of course is to contact your favorite Horror Host and have him lend you a helping hand in the destruction of this evil fiend. Problem being, of course, that most Horror Hosts are of a more non-violent demeanor, and want nothing to do with murdering your neighbor, who is also the bad guy from The Princess Bride, and so is easy to hate. Now, maybe I’m speaking out of turn here, but, if you’re watching this film as part of the 4-movie Horror Unleashed collection, you should know, that it’s as cheap as it sounds, and in fact, does not feature the subtitles it declares so proudly that it does. Man, I really hope someone got fired for that one.
So they couldn’t get Vincent Price in the role of… Vincent Price basically, so instead they go with everybody’s favorite monkey-masked “thinks he’s so great from his first awesome film (How Green Was My Valley) when he was a kid that he can appear on Batman as a supervillain of his own creation” man, Roddy McDowall. Now, Roddy does a halfway decent job portraying the amalgamation of Vincent Price and Peter Cushing and Zacherle and whatever else someone told him to look at, but obviously, if this film starred myself, and I needed aid in a time a vampiric trouble, I would call on none other than the pragmatic and ingenious Mr. Lobo.
None of these beating-around-the-bush kinda explanations in order to maintain a facade of sanity, I would probably be bashing my fists into the Lobo household door, covered in blood and having just barely escaped the blood-thirsty fiend’s fangs. I wouldn’t be able to turn the knob because my bloody hands would be too slippery, but he would hear me and open the door. As I crawled inside, stammering at a psychotic pace, I know that instead of picking up a phone to call 911, Mr. Lobo would surely sit down and write out the little bits of words he is able to decipher from my ramblings and then formulate a plan and we would spring into action together, but after I took a shower and probably ate some pizza, for energy. Then it’s off to my house in the city, where my vampire neighbor is right on the other side of my walls. We would crawl through the small hole I dug into his house, and with wooden stakes and tons of crosses ready, we would find my neighbor, on the phone with the police, calling them about the psycho next door who had broken into his house through a hole in the wall, and while screaming about vampires, then proceeded to squirt ketchup all over the place and himself, then, jumped out the window, stole a car, and, well I think you’re catching on now. At this point, whatever I smoked would probably be wearing off and I’d offer an apology to Mr. Lobo and my apparently un-vampiric neighbor. Now, seeing as I live in Philly, I don’t think my neighbor would accept my apology, and I’d probably have to kill him anyway, but I’d at least allow Mr. Lobo to get in his car and drive away beforehand, thus sparing him the accomplice charge.
But thankfully, that is not the case in this film. Instead we get someone who is properly fed up with the masked killers chopping up virgins in modern cinema, a boy who doesn’t have any other choice and proclaims his belief in vampires with the cuteness of a 10 year old boy, and a girl who’s gonna start off with one husband, but then have him replaced with a much more handsome actor who actually gets along with Al Bundy rather than being the butt of his jokes. It’s all perfect 80’s horror fun, the likes of which we know from The Lost Boys and The Monster Squad, but with a tiny bit of class. The premise is so rich that you really do write the movie in your head and get surprised by the parts that weren’t in your own mental script. There aren’t any “OH, COME ON!!!” moments like in every other vampire movie that’s aware of the existence of vampires but somehow dismisses undeniable vampiric (I really like that word) activity, but there is a weird sex scene between a middle-aged vampire and a high school student that I can’t imagine anyone watching comfortably. Maybe that was their goal, but I’d rather just close my eyes and listen to the awesome soundtrack that sounds like it was done by the same guy who did the Law & Order theme.
This film got a sequel in 1988 that contains one feature that this film does not that puts it streets ahead of it’s predecessor, and that’s a 1984 Space Shuttle pinball machine that’s missing the name on the side but is surely that game, one of the greatest in pinball history. Really, if you can transport yourself into the sequel, I suggest you make sure to get some play on that game, you shan’t be disappointed!