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"Welcome to Fright Night... for real!"
Fright Night is a 1985 vampire movie directed by Tom Holland and starring Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, and Roddy McDowall.
Charley Brewster (Ragsdale) is a teenage boy who loves watching horror movies on late-night television...or at least, pretending to be watching them while making out with his girlfriend Amy (Bearse). One night, he sees two men, Jerry Dandridge (Sarandon) and Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark), carrying a coffin into the house next door, and makes the natural (to him) assumption that a vampire has moved in. Soon after, dead prostitutes start being reported, and Charley actually sees Jerry attack a woman while looking out his bedroom window. When Jerry attacks him late one night to scare him away from investigating further, Charley's suspicions are only confirmed.
Charley first seeks help from Amy and his friend "Evil" Ed Thompson (Stephen Geoffreys), who both think he's crazy, and then from Peter Vincent (McDowall), former B-Movie actor turned host of the late-night horror program Fright Night. After some goading, the four of them arrange to meet Jerry to test whether he's a vampire, though secretly, everyone except Charley is actually trying to "prove" to him that Jerry's not a vampire. However, when Peter notices Jerry's lack of a reflection, he quickly realizes that the boy is right. He and Charley decide to meet up to stake the vampire before he kills him and his friends.
Fright Night was followed by a sequel in 1989, aptly titled Fright Night Part II. William Ragsdale and Roddy McDowall reprise their roles as Charley and Peter respectively, with Julie Carmen and Traci Lind joining the cast. Set a few years after the first film, the second movie follows Charley (now attending college) and Peter as they battle the seductive vampire Regine (Carmen), who's out for revenge on both Charley and Peter for their role in Jerry's death, and decides the best way to make Charley pay is to turn him into a vampire. Now it falls to Peter and Charley's new girlfriend Alex (Lind) to save Charley from A Fate Worse Than Death.
A remake, Fright Night (2011 film) starring Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, David Tennant and Toni Collette was released in 2011. It drops the Peter Vincent Becoming the Mask story and turns Charley into a Buffy the Vampire Slayer-type character, with Jerry resembling the evil version of Spike and Peter now a Vegas showman instead of a former actor. Tropes for the remake go on its own page.
Both the original and the remake have garnered positive reviews.
The original 1985 film and its sequel contains the following tropes:
- Affably Evil: Jerry, Regine.
- Badass Longcoat: Jerry is often seen in a villainous one.
- Badass Normal: Charley, Peter, Alex.
- Barrier-Busting Blow: In a variant, Jerry shows off his undead muscles by effortlessly lifting open a window Charley had spent the afternoon nailing shut. This, after casually flicking the latch off its frame.
- Becoming the Mask: Peter
- Berserk Button / Embarrassing Nickname: Ed hates being called "Evil."
- Big Bad: Jerry, natch!
- Big Damn Heroes
- Big No: Jerry gets one off just before transforming into a bat.
- Body Horror
- Brainwashed: During the nightclub sequence.
- Bring It: Jerry Dandridge to Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent inside the mansion.
- Broken Pedestal: Ed to Peter after he's been turned into a vampire.
- Call Back: In the sequel, when Peter tries wielding his crucifix against her, Regine tells him, "You need to have faith."
- Changed My Mind, Kid: Peter Vincent initially refuses to help Charlie against Dandridge, but later shows up as an ally.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe
- Contemptible Cover: The somewhat goofy looking vampire on the case doesn't mesh with the fact that this is a horror film, not a spoof.
- Cool Old Guy: Peter, especially in the sequel.
- Deadpan Snarker: Peter in the first half.
- Demon Head
- Did Mom Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?
- Disposable Sex Worker: Doubles as Hey, It's That Guy! (Helen Hunt!).
- Dying as Yourself: Evil Ed.
- Enemy Rising Behind
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Regine in the sequel.
- Even Evil Has Standards
- Evil Overlooker
- Foot Chase with a Side Order of Chef
- Game Face
- Gilligan Cut: Charley learns that a vampire cannot enter your home unless invited by the owners. Guess what he finds out a few seconds later in the next scene?
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Ed, in the ending, from Jerry's house.
- Gross Up Close-Up: Billy Cole's death in the first one once he gets staked; Belle and Bocworth in the sequel.
- Happily Ever After: Even though Charley has been bitten. Did the deaths of the original vampires just cancel that out?
- It did in the first movie with Amy.
- Heroic Willpower
- Hidden Depths
- Holy Burns Evil
- How Do You Like Them Apples?: Jerry Dandridge likes them. A lot, actually.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: A subversion, when Evil Ed yanks Charley's chain by claiming he's been bitten by the vampire and needs to be killed. Naturally, that's exactly what happens to Ed as soon as Charley stomps off in anger.
- Idiot Ball: At one point, Charley gets a cop over to Jerry's house on false pretenses and tells him that there is a coffin in the basement, but then lets slip in a near-frenzy that it contains a vampire. Had he instead told the officer that the coffin contained one of the recent unsolved murder victims, then the game would have been over for the antagonists. The man would have found the sleeping vampire (to his eyes, a corpse) in the coffin and arrested Billy Cole for murdering his friend, blowing the pair's cover, or alternately faced far-too-suspicious reluctance from Billy to let him down there. Either way, the rest of the film could not have occurred. Not to mention Charley let The Renfield know he was on to them. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
- Jerry himself has a moment like this when he attacks Charlie. Despite already breaking the frame on the door to his mother's room, he stops attacking Charlie and leaves when his mother wakes up, despite the fact that there's no way to interrupt him. Made especially egregious when his mother yells that she can't get out of her room. Jerry could have killed Charlie right there, but instead opts to run and make a threatening phone call.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty
- It's Personal
- Kick the Dog
- Kiss of the Vampire
- Large Ham: Jerry, Peter.
- Also Evil Ed "Dinner is in the oven! MMM-MMM!"
- Let's Split Up, Gang!: Charley to Peter while they're looking for the coffin in the basement.
- Loud Gulp: Peter does one after finding out Evil Ed has become a vampire, thanks to Jerry.
- A Man Is Always Eager: Used in the opening sequence.
- Mood Whiplash
- More Teeth Than the Osmond Family: The vampires' Game Face looks like this. Especially Amy's.
- This is foreshadowed when we hear Jerry take a bite -- just one -- from an apple. We don't see his teeth at the time, but when he tosses the apple aside, more than half of it is gone.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Ed hates being called "Evil Ed."
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
- No Celebrities Were Harmed
- No Ontological Inertia: When the vampire Jerry Dandridge is destroyed, Amy returns to normal.
- One-Winged Angel
- Only Sane Man
- Our Vampires Are Different: Averted, as the film sticks pretty close to the Classical Movie Vampire. It even takes a note from Bram Stoker that it ain't the crucifix that harms vampires, but the faith being inspired by them. One minor deviation is that Jerry eats fruit, whereas the classic film vampire can only stomach blood. Apparently Chris Sarandon suggested that the guy has a bit of fruit bat in him as well as vampire bat, and the director figured "Hey, why not?"
- Also plays with Our Renfields/Ghouls Are Different, when Peter wrongly assumes that Billy must be human because he walks around in the daylight. But that only means he's not a vampire...
- Our Werewolves Are Different: No werewolves. Transforming into wolves is one of the vampire lores.
- Played straight in the sequel when a werewolf does actually show up.
- Pivotal Wakeup: Jerry
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Vampires in human, wolf and bat forms.
- Reincarnation Romance
- Riddle for the Ages: Just what, exactly, Billy Cole was is never explained.
- Show Within a Show: Peter Vincent hosts a late-night horror show called Fright Night of which Charley is a fan.
- Stylistic Suck: Peter Vincent's late-night horror program, and his movies. In the one seen at the beginning, he holds his stake the wrong way when threatening the female vampire.
- Super Loser: Evil Ed.
- Token Minority: Belle in the sequel.
- Took a Level In Badass
- Transformation Sequence
- Un Evil Laugh: Evil Ed.
- Undeath Always Ends
- Vampires Are Sex Gods
- Vampire Dance
- Villainous BSOD: When Charlie successfully uses a crucifix against Jerry. Unfortunately, Billy Cole takes matters into his own hands.
- White Dwarf Starlet: Peter
- Who You Gonna Call?
- The Worm That Walks: Bocworth in the sequel.
- You Have to Believe Me: Charley is terrible at acting rational. Even if he was talking about something completely normal, people probably wouldn't' believe him.