I do hope you are enjoying the countdown of my favorite vampire movies as much I am bringing it to you from beyond the grave. Whenever I explore these topics I am overwhelmed with a sense of nostalgia and I hope that sentiment comes across. So many of these films are woven into the fabric of my life, especially childhood and adolescence. I also feel like some movies and TV shows capture moments in time, lightning in a bottle, and distilled with a modicum of charm create a one-time-only, single-use potion. Tonight’s entry in the countdown is all that wrapped in my nostalgia blanket.
10. Fright Night – 1985
I have always been a fan of Roddy McDowell, ever since the Planet of the Apes franchise and things like The Legend of Hell House, as well as his distinctive voice-over work. I’ve also always been partial to horror movie hosts like Elvira, Svengoolie, and Joe Bob Briggs. McDowell combines all of these things in his Peter Vincent character. But I am putting the proverbial cart before the horse as it were.
Handsome, apple-chomping (there’s a clue) Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) and his housemate Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark), move in next door to young Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) and his single mom Judy (Dorothy Fielding). The only problem is, Jerry is, well, a vampire. Yes, a vampire named Jerry. After brazenly committing an act of atrocity in front of Charley, and nobody believing Charley’s accusations of murder, Jerry sets his sights on Charley’s girlfriend, Amy Peterson (Amanda Bearse).
Charley turns to recently fired horror movie host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowell), who supposedly knows about vanquishing the undead, for help. Vincent agrees reluctantly, but only pretends to go along. Eventually, Vincent comes to realize that Charley was right and that Dandridge really is a vampire.
Comic relief in the movie arrives in the form of Evil Ed, a quasi-friend of Charley’s who is transformed into a vampire and causes all kinds of hell throughout the film. He is played by Stephen Geoffreys, who coincidently had quite the run as an adult film actor under the name of Sam Ritter. The things you learn when you’re researching these movies.
In 2011, Colin Farrell, horror movie royalty Toni Collette, David Tennant, and the late Anton Yelchin starred in a remake that I really didn’t care for. It had it’s moments, but it just wasn’t that good. In 1988, Ragsdale and McDowell reprised their roles for Fright Night 2, and to be honest, I can’t get past the first 10 minutes of that train wreck.
You may find it interesting that Fright Night is brought to you by the same Tom Holland who wrote and directed Chucky in 1988, wrote and directed Stephen King’s Thinner and The Langoliers (he also starred), and was involved in Tales from the Crypt and Masters of Horror. He also appeared in Stephen King’s The Stand mini-series in 1994, wrote and appeared in Psycho II, and starred in an episode of 77 Sunset Strip.
31a./31b. Blacula/Scream Blacula Scream
30. The Lair of the White Worm
29. Son of Dracula
28. Vampire Circus
27. Innocent Blood
26. The Hunger
25. Countess Dracula
24. Dracula (1979)
23. Count Dracula (1977)
22. The Vampire Lovers
21. Dracula’s Daughter
20. Kolchak: The Night Stalker
19. Salem’s Lot
18. Shadow of the Vampire
17. Interview with the Vampire
16. Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter
15. Twins of Evil
12. What We Do in the Shadows
11. Hammer Studios’ Dracula franchise