1985 was a fertile year for horror films. Day of the Dead, Return of The Living Dead, Friday The 13th Part V, A Nightmare On Elm St Part 2, Lifeforce, and of course Tom Hollands modern day updating of classic vampire lore, Fright Night.
Now, Fright Night hasn’t been too well served in the past on home media, with a standard for the time 1980s pan and scan VHS release, and a barely adequate widescreen DVD release in 2005. Well, for us Brits, Eureka have remedied this situation with their sparkling new Blu Ray+DVD combo pack reissue. This release uses an all new 2k restoration (previously released in the USA) as its base, and the film has never looked better.
So, synopsis time: Charley Brewster is the average American boy next door. He has a girlfriend, a mom, and a weird best friend. He loves his cheesy late night horror movies, especially those which star his local horror host Peter Vincent. Charley has a problem, though. His new next door neighbour is a vampire. And no one believes him. Yes, his new neighbour is suave, sophisticated, and sexy, but a vampire? And it only gets worse when the vampire next door sets his sights on Charleys girlfriend, who just happens to look like his long lost love…
Fright Night is a horror comedy par excellence. Unlike most horror comedies, Fright Night plays the horror straight, albeit with a knowing wink oe 2 here and there. The humour comes from the characters, and their knowledge of how ludicrous the situation is for them. But the scares… you could remove the humour, and still have a damned effective vampire movie right here.
The cast are uniformly excellent, with the core protagonist pairing of William Ragsdale as Charley and Hollywood legend Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent ably matched by Chris Sarandons turn as the darkly sexual vampire Jerry Dandridge. They are helped enormously by the wonderful script from writer/director Tom Holland, whose love of classic horror movies and their tropes shines through magnificently. A solid score from Brad Fiedel and some outstanding practical effects work (no cg here, fiends) round the picture out nicely.
As I stated earlier, this new version is taken from a 2k restoration of an original print, and it looks outstanding, especially given the low budget nature of the film. There are hints of grain in the many night time scenes, but not enough to be a distraction. And unlike some restorations, the film retains its 1980s look, and the warmth that you get from something filmed on celluloid. The soundtrack is equally as good, again seeming to be from a higher budget film than it actually is.
Extras wise, Eureka have gone to town with a superb package. The highlight is the inclusion of a special re-edit of the documentary You’re so cool, Brewster. This re-edit omits pretty much all material pertaining to the ill fated sequel, but remains an essential watch, clocking in at over 2.5 hours in length. Also included are a number of shorter interviews which have minimal overlap with the core documentary, a recording of the 2008 cast reunion at Fear Fest 2, the original theatrical trailers, a look at Tom Hollands personal Fright Night memorabilia, and the original EPK issued with the film on its release back in 1985.
Overall, this is an outstanding package, which is almost Arrow Films like in its content.
5/5 Fiends. Essential.