Monday, July 18, 2011

Fright Night

Fright Night screens FOR FREE as part of Rue Morgue's Cinemacabre at the Toronto Underground Cinema on Thursday, July 21st at 9:30pm.

Hot on the heels of the upcoming Disney and Dreamworks remake (from Lars and the Real Girl director Craig Gillespie), Rue Morgue brings their Cinemacabre movie series to the Toronto Underground Cinema with a free screening of the 1985 horror classic, Fright Night.

Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale) has a very big problem. He has proof that his new next door neighbour, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire. Naturally, no one will believe the horror movie obsessed Charlie at first. Charlie tries to enlist the help of his girlfriend (Amanda Bearse) and his best friend "Evil" Ed (Stephen Geoffreys), who are skeptical, but genuinely want to help. Charlie also looks to a former Hammer-style film actor named Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowell) who was once famous for tracking down creatures of the night on screen. Jerry would willing leave young Charlie alone if he would just stay out of his business, but eventually Charlie grows to know too much and Jerry begins an all out assault on his friends and family. In the end it is up to Charlie and the disgraced actor to save the suburbs from a horrible terror.

Fright Night is undoubtedly one of the best horror films of the 1980s and in many ways was ahead of its time. Writer and director Tom Holland has not only a great visual eye (this movie is gorgeous to look at), but a real knack for self reflexivity that doesn't beat the audience into submission with sly references or half baked nods to films from the past. It bears its love of Rear Window and the Universal horror films of the 30s and 40s on its sleeve, but it never actively tries to recreate those films word for word. It balances the funny and the brutal quite well. While there is quite a bit of humour in the film, it also goes in some pretty unexpected places. The stakes get raised in the film at almost every turn and in many cases without any warning, especially in the second half of the film which includes the final battle between Charlie and Jerry that lasts almost a full thirty minutes without ever getting old, tiresome, or repetitive.

The performances are also great across the board. Bearse is suitably low key and mousy and Geoffreys is over the top and crazed. Sarandon is the perfect vampire blend of sexy and scary, and possibly worst of all he actually looks the part of the neighbour you want to be friends wth but you can never quite be sure about. Ragsdale is pleasingly heroic and he never backs down from a fight, making him one of the toughest nerds in film history. The film really belongs to McDowell who doesn't so much play a withering wimp as a placating blowhard who would totally be in love with himself if he wasn't so busy lamenting his lost fame. Fright Night is an often overlooked piece of 1980s film history, but it is well worth the time if you haven't seen it. And for free (and on very rare 35mm) you just can't beat the price.

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