Sorry guys. If you didn’t pick up Twilight Time’s 30th Anniversary Blu-Ray of Fright Night, you’re out of luck. It’s already sold out. And that’s unfortunate for you, because the company has done an excellent job of commemorating the anniversary on this release. Even if you have their original Blu-Ray release of Fright Night, you might be surprised at the quality of the transfer on this disc – it looks great (don’t listen to the detractors who are searching for every little flaw), and there are enough awesome features on here to warrant a pickup here. First, let’s take a look at the film itself, since I’ve never officially reviewed it here.
Fright Night is a horror fan’s dream movie. There’s a reason Tom Holland’s film has lasted in fans’ minds, and it’s because Holland’s protagonist Charley (William Ragsdale) feels like an authentic fan of the horror genre. The late nights staying up to watch a scary movie on cable TV are probably gone for new horror fans in this age of electronic entertainment, but for those older, avid watchers of movies, the opening scene of Fright Night is one that brings back many nostalgic memories. Even I don’t remember the days where a horror icon would present a movie to the audience on a Friday night, but I still remember AMC’s Fear Fridays before they took that off the air; those were the days, where Netflix wasn’t readily available and you had to actually work to see a film.
Holland captures that in Fright Night, even if Charley’s horror fascination isn’t a huge part of the movie itself. The idea that someone so interested in horror would then find a vampire living next door is ingenious; part of the issue would be that no one would ever believe him, since he’s already proven his imagination active to begin with. His girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) thinks that he’s imagining things, and his “friend” Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) finds it more funny than realistic. But Charley’s belief that new next door neighbor Jerry (Chris Sarandon) feels less like a far-fetched hallucination to horror fans than it does a wet dream.
Sarandon plays the suave Jerry so well that it’s hard for anyone not to have fun with the movie. Watching Sarandon chew scenery while Charley and others look on in fear is one of the best things that Fright Night delivers. But Holland’s script is also smart, as it should be when featuring such meta commentary about horror. The suspense is here, especially in scenes where Sarandon stalks his prey, or once Evil Ed turns into a vamp himself; but there’s also a ton of comedy, aided by Roddy McDowall’s fantastic portrayal of Peter Vincent, a fading horror star reminiscent of Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.
Holland knows how to write a thrilling vampire movie because he gives the horror fan what they want to see. There’s sexuality, there’s comedy, and toward the end of the film, some wonderful, practical special effects. The wolf transformation scene is some of the best work in the film, but there’s also the great make-up work on Evil Ed as a crucifix is burned into his forehead. In short, the violence is here in spades despite the humor, making Fright Night one of those films that can transcend genres; indeed, if one likes ’80s comedies, this film is a nice alternative to those John Cusack/Molly Ringwald gems.
Like those, the film is also a coming-of-age story, with Charley, Amy, and Ed atempting to navigate the boundary between childhood and adulthood. Sex is a strong theme in Fright Night, and though temptation has been explored significantly in vampire films now, Holland’s script is able to use these metaphors to craft a strong storyline that uses Sarandon’s sensuality to full advantage.
It’s nice that Twilight Time is bringing Fright Night back again for those youngsters who might not know it, too. The film looks great on this Blu-Ray, and that helps to define the timelessness of the story (well, there’s a lot of the ’80s in the film too – looking at you J. Geils Band). Any horror fan can relate to Holland’s idea; it’s not a stretch for those watchers of scary cinema to at least want to believe in the supernatural among us, and Fright Night is an ode to those nights of watching terror tales late while the dark lurks.
As I said before, this 30th Anniversary edition looks wonderful. It comes with a full-color, 6 page pullout with an essay from Julie Kirgo in a white Blu-Ray case.
Included on the disc is an isolated score track (very cool, very ’80s), audio commentary with Tom Holland, Chris Sarandon, and Jonathan Stark, and another commentary track with Tom Holland, William Ragsdale, Stephen Geoffreys, and Randall Cook. That’s a lot of extra features to tackle with just the film alone, making it worth the price of admission.
But then you get a 2008 Fright Night reunion panel with all of the stars of the film as well. This is a pretty laid-back piece at around 50 minutes where the cast get to field questions from the audience. They all have a really good time and it’s definitely worth a watch. Also included is a 90 minute vintage EPK for Fright Night with cast interviews and even the music video for J. Geils Band’s “Fright Night”. A bunch of stills and old photos are compiled in a gallery, and last but not least are two trailers for the film – G-rated and R-rated. That’s a lot of stuff for Fright Night fan to sink their teeth into, and you’ll want to spend the time watching all of these things at some point.