What It’s About: Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is an average teenager except for his overly developed interest in horror movies, specifically the ones that former horror star Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) hosts on Fright Night, a local late night show. When Charley suspects his new neighbor Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire no one, including his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) and weirdo classmate “Evil” Ed (Stephen Geoffreys), believes him. Amy recruits Vincent to convince Charley that Jerry is not a vampire, but when Vincent discovers that Charley is telling the truth, can he find the courage to save the kids before it’s too late?
Why Watch it Today?: Outside of a few holdouts like Svengooli and Wolfman Mac, the horror host is as dead as Jerry Dandrige, but there was a time when most regions of the country had their own, who would reel off bad jokes before the film and during the commercial breaks. Vampira (Maila Nurmi) created the format of a ghoulish but comic host. Her show premiered today in 1954 and only lasted one season due to a contract dispute between Nurmi and the producers, but it inspired legions of imitators (including several named Fright Night). Hosted horror shows were prevalent until the 1980s, when the rise of video and cable (not to mention the change in broadcasting rules that allowed TV stations to sell late night airtime to the producers of infomercials) lead to their near-extinction. Fright Night is that rare animal, a horror-comedy that works both as a horror film and as a comedy, playfully referencing older horror movies and the horror-host phenomena, while still giving us a solid update of the vampire mythology.
Where to Get It: iTunes, Netflix or Amazon