CABLE4EVER: FRIGHT NIGHT
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8/3/2003 - I remember seeing this movie a long time ago! So naturally it's not going to hold up for me. It's too mired in the 80s MTV culture to take seriously, especially the often intrusive soundtrack. Although the vampire is smarmy handsome to be sure. It's just a fun movie, damn it!
The story is about a boy named Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale; Crispin Glover was unavailable) who finds out his new neighbors are of a different species: one a vampire, and one a man servant of some indeterminate degree of zombie persuasion. If I remember correctly, he's a Day Walker. And tagging along with Charlie on this adventure are three companions: his girlfriend (Amanda Bearse), the comic relief friend / sidekick 'Evil' (Stephen Geoffreys in a performance that paved the way for David Spade) and Peter Vincent, the Great Vampire Killer, played by Roddy McDowall.
The vampire in this picture, a dude named Jerry Dandrige, behaves more like a serial killer than a creature who's lived prudently in the shadows for hundreds of years. Take for example the explosive episode in the dance club, where Dandrige rather publicly kills the bouncers, twice falling back on that old (horror) movie cliché, the Black Dude Always Gets It First. A more tasteful, less easily provoked vampire would've left the club without incident.
Another cliché that springs to mind: lost loves. The only other example I can think of is 'Honeymoon in Vegas' where James Caan tries to woo Sarah Jessica Parker's character because she looks like his old wife, girlfriend, whatever. Same thing here, and there's even an 'old' painting!
Even though it was made before, comparisons to 'Ed Wood' aren't totally out of place with Roddy McDowall's character, doing double duty as the faded horror movie star (Bela Lugosi) AND the host of the show that shows the old movies (Vampira). He does admirably as he fends off the almost constant assaults on his character. "Hey! You're not really a vampire killer! You're just an actor playing a role!" Or as they say in Strictly Ballroom, "You're a gutless wonder!".
It's kind of interesting the choice of weapons used in the film. Great emphasis is placed on the cross. It would've been funny if at some point one of the characters held up their fingers in a cross shape. No garlic if I remember correctly, although Dandrige side-stepped the kitchen during that one chase, huh? And he was pretty intimidated by the holy water. Also, if you're a vampire, wouldn't you take great pains to make sure your sleeping quarters were a little more secure than they are in this movie? Light-tight at least; you know, not so many tinted windows around. Maybe excavate a little, putting your coffin a couple hundred feet underground. A variation on the old 'Wizard of Oz' argument: you're the Wicked Witch and you're vulnerable to water, so why have a whole bucket of it so close by for someone to pick up and throw at you?
The finale isn't too shabby (does Richard Edlund really need another accolade?), and there's one aspect of it that scared the hell out of me all over again. Amy is still a half-vampire and, scared off by a cross, shames Charlie for not protecting her from the vampire. And then, sensing a moment of weakness, she comes at him with this giant ferocious mouth full of jagged teeth!! She looked like one of the Critters! But that probably says more about me than it does the movie, my fear of dentists, whatever. Then of course there's the rather thorough disintegration of the manservant Billy Cole, but my reaction to that now was more like, boy! Someone sure did their homework. They must've had a gross anatomy student on the set that day.
At one point Dandrige says to Evil "You don't have to be afraid of me!" And looking at Evil's filmography it looks as if he's suffered a fate worse than most Vampire-Americans.
-so sayeth the Movie Hooligan
(c)2003 Bulk Entertainment
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