Do you remember that ancient tale The Boy Who Cried Wolf? That popular story we were often told in school to ward us away from lying. It was a one of many works from the Aesop fables. Aesop was some storyteller from ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BCE. Obviously he was the Quentin Tarantino of the day. For anyone that isn’t familiar with The Boy Who Cried Wolf, let me give you a quick and truthful rundown.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
Once there was this annoying kid named Dennis that was a dick to everyone in his town. One day while shepherding a flock of sheep, he falsely alarmed the townspeople of a wolf. The townspeople were in the middle of their fantasy football draft. So they were real pissed that they had to interrupt it. But when they went to the boy they discovered it was all a prank. But instead of cutting the kids head off, they ran back because auto-draft is awful. Dennis was on a role because he had Aspergers and didn’t understand basic social norms of the town. So Dennis did it again and the people literally threatened to castrate him and feed his balls to his parents.
So Dennis was going to go lay down for a nap when out of the woods comes a wolf. The wolf started tearing the sheep into pieces and there was nothing Dennis could do. So Dennis went to ring the bell and rang it like there was no tomorrow. Unfortunately the towns people were sick of his shit and didn’t come. They knew there was a wolf this time but figured Dennis was a drain on their town. So the wolf licked Dennis’ skin off before ripping his intestines out. A week later Dennis’ parents got pregnant with a new child. The end.
That’s The Story
So that is basically The Boy Who Cried Wolf. I swear that is the real story. Aesop was one hardcore guy. But this story makes me think of the movie Fright Night. What if you witnessed something terrible and know one believed you? What if you and everyone around you were in mortal danger and you were the only one that knew about it. Then when you tried to warn people, they laughingly left you to be eaten by the wolves? But what if the wolf was a vampire?
Fright Night is a 1985 film directed by Tom Holland and starring Williams Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Chris Sarandon, Stephen Geoffreys and Roddy McDowall. It was a big success in theaters and spawned a less successful sequel in 1988 and a remake in 2011. Today Fright Night is scene as a cult classic and ranks as one of the best vampire films of all time.
Charley Brewster is an avid horror fan but it is quite possible that Charley has let horror get to his head. When Charley see’s a coffin being carried into his neighbors basement and then hears a scream the following day, Charley’s paranoia checks. While no one believes him Charley is sure his neighbor is a vampire.
Fright Night is kind of like 1954’s Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock. We have a kid that witnesses his neighbor doing something bad. Just like James Stewart’s character Jeff Jefferies. Charley has a hot girlfriend named Amy and Jeff has an INSANELY hot lady named Lisa played by Grace Kelly. We have the antagonist committing terrible crimes against humanity and know one believes our protagonist. But they’re both the man vs. man kind of scenario. Charley has to convince those around him while trying to save his own skin. It isn’t until the last minute that his friends believe him. Actually Charley gets Amy involved and almost killed just like Jeff does to Lisa in Rear Window! The movie is literally the same!
Vampires Are Old But Not Gone
While all the horror movies in the eighties were primarily slashers and creature features. It seemed like the idea of the golden age monster was headed for the grave. Vampires definitely weren’t on the top of the list for a new generations go to monster. But a few movies from that period certainly proved that monsters, especially vampires were still high quality horror themes and actually able to work with new generations. Few films like 1979’s Salem’s Lot, 1987, The Lost Boys and 1987 Near Dark proved that vampires could work in a modern setting. Vampires didn’t have to be period piece creatures or old style villains. They didn’t have to speak with a foreign accent or have archaic mannerisms. They could be as modern and normal as they were dark and sinister. Even 1987’s The Monster Squad was successful at mixing a vintage Dracula in a modern eighties setting.
Fright Night Prevails Over The Gap
Fright Night is a vampire movie that did this perfectly. It is a film that mixes a wonderful blend of classic silver age hammer horror into the bronze age gore festival. In fact, the entire movie is like passing a torch of an old generation to a new one. Something that is depicted right in the film with Charley and his horror idol Peter Vincent. Vincent who played brilliantly by Roddy McDowall, is a host of a horror television series called Fright Night. Vincent is a perfect homage to the legendary Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and Christopher Lee all wrapped in one. Maybe sprinkle some John Carradine in there as well. But mainly, he’s Peter Cushing. A man who played Van Helsing on many occasions.
His show sucks and it is outdated. Even Vincent reluctantly understands this. He says “The kids today, don’t have the patience for vampires. They want to see some mad slasher running around and chopping off heads.” He may be pissed off about this but he has a point. But he is proven wrong because what Fright Night does is take a classic monster and give it a shot of eighties steroids in its ass. Instead of the brown suit coat, carrying case full of spikes and respectful vampire hunter demeanor like Vincent. The job is being passed to a blue jean, high top wearing, horny teenager named Charley. This movie displays a transition of the old classic style to the new. Unlike The Lost Boys where the story has passing down. The Frog brothers are slayers but with no story and no right of passage. Which makes them less believable vampire slayers than Charley.
Think of Luke Skywalker and Yoda. Would you believe Luke was badass if he had just been a Jedi without Yoda’s training or passing of knowledge? No, he’d be some dick kid that you slap across the face!
So Much Fun
That’s why I love Fright Night. It pays homage to an era that came before it and does so in a classy way. Peter Vincent redeems himself in the end as Charley becomes the new face of justice against the children of the night. The acting in the movie is great. Like I said Roddy McDowall is amazing and is the delight in the entire film. Chris Sarandon completely kills it as our antagonist. He breathes an air of cool and calm. Which is a great contrast to when he transforms to his true nature.
Even the blood and gore is passed on to a new generation. You can appreciate the film and its great effects by Richard Edlund because it’s some awesome shit. It’s not like Hammer horror where someone gets a stake in the heart and just simply bleed out. No, this is the eighties bitch! We have to go full throttle puke inducing blood and guts!
All in all I love this movie and I have never met anyone that didn’t love it as well. It will always remain a treasure in the long list of horror films. Fans will always appreciate it for its classic 80s gore and hilarious lines like “You’re So Cool, Brewster!” Thank you to Fright Night and Tom Holland for continuing the charm and allure of vampires. They proved that not all movies need killers with axes. We can still find terror in the classic monsters that started it all. This is why 1985’s Fright Night is chosen for day four of Horror Movie Marathon.