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This review originally appeared in issue 10 of THE CINEMA LASER.


As far as eighties horror movies go, FRIGHT NIGHT ($35) was definitely a highlight. The film features impressive special effects work by Richard Edlund and a very imaginative and playful script by writer/director Tom Holland. FRIGHT NIGHT achieves the proper balance between character development and special effects, which elevates it far above most horror films of the 1980's.

FRIGHT NIGHT is contemporary vampire story, that places your average American teenager up against one of the undead. William Ragsdale stars as a teenager Charley Brewster, who's main preoccupation appears to be getting his girlfriend out of her clothes- until a vampire moves in next door. Chris Sarandon is the glamour-boy vampire, Jerry Dandridge, who possesses a biting sense of humor in addition to his other oral predilections. A pre MARRIED WITH CHILDREN Amanda Bearse is Amy, Charley's object of affection, who just happens to bear a striking resemblance to the vampire's long lost love. But, it is Roddy McDowell who steals much of the film with his shamelessly hammy/cowardly performance as Peter Vincent who's known as "famous vampire killer" for his numerous film roles. Of late, the "famous vampire killer" has been hosting a local television horror movie show known as "Fright Night" to keep him one step ahead of the bill collector. When Charley turns to Peter Vincent for help, the "famous vampire killer" winds up facing off against his first real vampire.

Columbia/TriStar has given FRIGHT NIGHT a respectable Letterboxed transfer that restores most of the Panavision aspect ratio. The image is reasonably sharp, but the cinematography has a tendency towards smoke machines and diffusion lenses which keeps the image from achieving the razor sharp "snap" found in most recent transfers. The colors are nicely saturated, but flesh tones are a tad too orange.

The digitally encoded Dolby Surround soundtrack is typical of a mid 1980's mix. It has some nice separations during climatic scenes, but there is a general absence of ambiance, which make the track seem a bit anemic the most of the time. The Sony DADC pressing had a more than average number of inclusions, and they became somewhat bothersome.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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