Top critical review
Nice little vampire picture
on August 29, 2001
I imagine that most horror fans in the 20-30 range remember this picture fondly. I know I was addicted to it and the following sequel, watching both over and over for what seemed to be several years. It isn't quite the masterpiece I thought it was back in '85, but it hasn't aged too poorly, overall.
The main problem with FRIGHT NIGHT is the pacing. At just over 105 minutes, it's longer than most horror films, but the "REAR WINDOW" elements of the first half of the film could have been much more developed. Instead, the plot speeds along straight to the climax with no real fun in between. The cast is uneven as well. While William Ragsdale is fine and Stephen Geoffreys steals the show, Amanda Bearse is downright terrible. It's nearly impossible to believe that Brewster and Dandridge are both fighting for her. Aren't there any other women in town? She's almost bearable after she's bitten in the neck, but she's a dud before she joins the undead. Roddy McDowall adds a great element of fun and, along with the fake film clips he introduces, brings a real sense of nostalgia for the classic Hammer horror pictures. It's a shame that this mood is also ruined by the strong 80s flavor of the first half of the film.
Once the fun gets started, though, about 80 minutes into the film, it never lets up. The makeup and effects are still fantastic and the encounters with Dandridge and his cadre leave even the most seasoned FRIGHT NIGHT veterans on the edge of their seats. The entire transformation of Evil Ed is simply marvelous and his final scene with Roddy McDowall successfully merges real tragedy and terror in a way rarely seen in mainstream horror movies. By the time the film has ended, you've either forgotten or forgiven most of FRIGHT NIGHT's negative qualities.
All in all, a strong recommendation for any fan of 80s horror and vampire films. At this bargain price, it's a keeper.