1985’s ‘Fright Night’: Sassy, Fabulous Vampires (review)

Not to be confused with the 2011 remake. Charley (William Ragsdale) is a normal teenage boy who likes to do teenage boy stuff, like try to score with his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) while watching Fright Night, a TV show devoted to classic horror movies. His good times are disrupted by new neighbors Jerry (Chris Sarandon) and his boyfriend—er, buddy, Billy (Jonathan Stark). Charley discovers that Jerry is a vampire, but has difficulty convincing anyone else. Amy hires Fright Night host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) to prove Charley wrong, but Peter soon realizes Charley’s right. When Jerry kidnaps Amy, the two team up to stop him.

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“I’m feeling a little choked up!”

I suppose the most striking thing about the film is that it’s (intentionally or not) gay, gay, gay. Starting with the cast, we have Chris Sarandon, who played Al Pacino’s husband in Dog Day Afternoon. Roddy McDowall was rumored to have been at least bisexual. Stephen Geoffreys, if not gay, has made a lot of gay porn (thank you, IMDB). Amanda Bearse is gay. Then there are the characters. Charley’s sorta friend Evil Ed (the aforementioned Geoffreys) is seduced (ahem, into being a vampire) by Jerry.

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“All you have to do is take my hand.” –actual quote

Amy is constantly telling Charlie to stop it when he tries to go all the way with her. She doesn’t seem scared, just disinterested. She’s later attracted to Jerry, but only because he’s using his vampire wiles. Jerry and Billy are at least partners in the sense of a symbiotic relationship: Jerry supplies him with power, while Billy protects him during the day. But they do seem to love each other, particularly in a scene when Billy comes up behind Jerry and embraces him, with one arm over Jerry’s shoulder and one arm across his chest. IMDB claims that writer/director Tom Holland wrote Jerry and Billy as subtextually gay, but not Ed. Too bad the remake shied away from the Billy idea entirely (but it’s not not gay).

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So adorbs!

If you want to indulge in the stereotype that gay men are good at doing hair and picking clothes, then consider that Amy’s transformation into a  vampire includes shedding her ugly I-don’t-want-to-have-sex-with-my-boyfriend-duds (overalls! the girl wears overalls!) and wearing a sexy dress. She’s completely out of it, so presumably either Jerry or Billy dressed her. Her hair is also longer, for some reason. I picture the two guys off-camera, one fretting over hair and the other dashing off to find something that doesn’t make her look like a farmer. See the before and after:

Moving along, it’s fun for everyone. It’s pretty original, for a vampire movie. It’s funny and even a little creepy—when Amy becomes a vampire, she has a crazy warthog/shark face—see the movie poster. The makeup and special effects are pretty good for the mid-‘80s. The acting is decent aside from a bit of overacting (mostly on Sarandon’s part).

Published by GhoulieJoe

I wuvs the horror movies and like to write snarky reviews about them. I also included some pretentious as hell microfiction (don't worry, it's at the bottom).

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