31 Nights, 31 Frights: Fright Night

In observance of that autumn spell when we celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear, Rainestorm highlights 31 days of spooky scares to season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.

Reign of terror: 1985

Amanda Bearse in 'Fright Night'

Some people just should not drink chai.

The horror… the horror: Tom Holland was quite keen to do a vampire film that was contemporary, rather than a period piece. Up to that time, there hadn’t been a successful one and the genre had lapsed into parody. With Fright Night, he gave vampires just the right jolt of bloodlust needed to bring the undead back from the dead. Chris Sarandon plays the seductive Jerry Dandridge, whose vampiric tendencies are known only to his neighbor, high-schooler Charlie Brewster. When Jerry threatens to kill Charlie, the young lad enlists the the aide of local television host Peter Vincent, whose late-night show Fright Night is Charlie’s favorite. Roddy McDowell is wonderful in the role of the Hammer Horror-like vampire killer, playing up Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing as an egotistical vanquisher of all things supernatural. The film was made during the peak of the horror special effects renaissance, and though it does bog the movie down in some unnecessarily protracted sequences, the effects are quite good. Essentially a retelling of Dracula with a modern twist, Fright Night is a classic of the genre and an example of how a little ingenuity can make an old tale fresh and exciting.

Halloween haunt: Jerry Dandridge seems to travel with his own fog bank that he can summon at will. In the climax, it completely envelops his house. His entryway, of course, boasts a central staircase that terminates in a stained-glass rose window. And what would a vampire story be without a basement coffin?

Tastiest treat: Sexy creature of the night Dandridge becomes suddenly aware of Charlie’s surveilling eye just as he’s about to snack on his beautiful victim’s jugular.

Check the candy for: Chris Sarandon also voiced Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Devilish discourse: “Apparently all they want are demented madmen running around in ski masks hacking up young virgins.”

Goes great with: The Lost Boys (1987). After Tom Holland made vampires respectable again, Joel Schumacher made them cool. To this day I am unable to watch this film without a female member of my viewing party salivating over Jason Patric. Between him and Keifer Sutherland, this vampire classic overflows with 80s punk awesomeness. It also introduced the world to the Coreys (Feldman and Haim).