Today: February 22, 2024

Fright Night

Revisiting films that you saw as a teenager is always an unnerving experience. Until you press play, the film exists in a hazy nostalgic hinterland. Was it really as good as you remember?  Or will it turn out to be just so much melted gorgonzola?

This December, Tom Holland’s vampire classic, Fright Night, is released for the first time on blu-ray in a limited edition, duel-format SteelBook. And the good news is that it’s as funny, as scary, as quotable and as watchable as you remember.

The film was writer and director Tom Holland’s homage to old school horror. Made in an era when movie villains chopped up teenagers wearing ski masks, Fright Night could have been a box office disaster. Instead, it turned out to be the highest grossing horror of the year and – 30 years later – it still has a cult following.

It’s easy to see why. Not only are the performances spot on – with Chris Sarandon compelling as the debonair and terrifying vampire – but it plays to an audience who know and love their horror. The tropes are all here. The vampire’s lost love reincarnated as girl next door, Amy (Amanda Bearse). Charley Brewster’s (William Ragsdale) plucky teenage hero with a love of horror movies. Jonathan Cole’s Renfield-esque minder – updated with an ‘80s gay subtext. On top of that, we have some seriously impressive effects. Remember that this was 1985. So no digital jiggery-pokery, just prosthetics and hours and hours in the make up chair.

However it’s Roddy McDowell as “Peter Vincent Vampire Hunter” who steals the show. Compete with powdered grey hair and kitsch costume, Vincent is a has-been ham actor, finally given the chance to be the hero in real life. It’s a performance that harks straight back to ‘50s Hammer and McDowell clearly relishes every second. In fact, he was so keen on the character that he tried to bring Peter Vincent – and Holland – back to the franchise for Fright Night 3.

Eureka’s 4k digital transfer is a work of love. The visuals are crisp and sharp and the original stereo PCM soundtrack and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio options are available on the blu-ray. Other blu-ray extras include a two-hour behind the scenes documentary and a mountain of interviews, featurettes and archival footage. Everything, in fact, that you need to take you straight back to the halcyon days of big hair, synthesisers and iconic movies. You’re So Cool Brewster? Yes, Dude. You still are.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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