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A Fine 'Fright Night' for Halloween Camp

October 25, 1990|MIKE BELL

Once the Halloween ritual of handing out candy and making the neighborhood rounds with the kids is safely past, put the little ones to bed, gather up the leftover candy and get the VCR warmed up. Wednesday night is the perfect "Fright Night."

Scary, funny and intentionally campy, "Fright Night" revolves around teen-ager Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale), who innocently looks out his window one night and spots his new neighbor moving in next door.

What's unusual about this mysterious neighbor, aside from the fact that he's moving in at night, is that he and his "roommate" are not lugging sofas, mattresses and lamps. Instead, they're carrying what appears to be a coffin.

After witnessing various other strange goings-on and hearing reports of human mutilations in the town, Charlie becomes convinced that his neighbor is--you guessed it--a vampire. He enlists his doubting friends and "The Great Vampire Killer," Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), to help him rid the world--not to mention the neighborhood--of this "spawn of Satan."

Vincent, has-been horror film actor and host of a weekly program called "Fright Night," is disbelieving at first, but a series of eerie events eliminates his skepticism.

McDowall, who adds class to virtually every production he's involved with, plays Vincent with great verve. His reluctance to be the hero that Charlie believes him to be is wonderfully refreshing in this day of infallible movie super-heroes. Chris Sarandon is equally inspired as the vampire, foregoing the Bela Lugosi/Christopher Lee-type approach to portray him as wisecracking and overly smug.

Writer/director Tom Holland seems to be paying homage to the horror-comedy films of the '40s but with much greater effectiveness. His direction is loose, but on the mark. Richard Edlund's stylishly graphic, though not overbearing, special effects also contribute to the fun.

If you like intense horror films with a sprinkling of great comic lines ("I believe in vampires. I have one living next door!"), spend your fright night with "Fright Night."

"Fright Night" (1985), directed by Tim Holland. 105 minutes. Rated R.

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