Thursday, October 6, 2011

Top 10 Scenes from Fright Night

One of my favorite vampire movies of all time is Fright Night because it was edgy, funny and pretty gory. There are so many memorable scenes in the film from when Peter burns a cross into Evil’s head or Charlie sees Jerry for the first time. However, for my taste there are a few scenes and key moments within the film that have always stood out to me. These moments are my favorite because they’re either well written, visually stunning or expand on the vampire mythology but no matter what… they’ll always be memorable. Now, before I get to the list it must be stated that these scenes, if on a scale of 1 to 10, are within mere decimals from each other. My second favorite scene is ranked at 9.99 instead of a perfect 10. My third favorite scene is ranked at 9.98 and so on. Essentially, they’re all winners in my book.

CAUTION: There are spoilers here.

10) Jerry dances with Amy

As a kid, I always thought this scene was a little out of place but that’s probably because at the time I was more preoccupied with the vampires than with dancing. As time moved on I grew to like this scene because it reminded me of a more modern interpretation of a masquerade ball; the smooth ballroom dancing and the look on Amy’s face when she realizes that Jerry doesn’t cast a reflection in the mirror. Besides, I’ve come to really enjoy “Give It Up” by Evelyn King.

9) Amy and Evil Ed visit Charley

There is no real profound reason why I love this scene. It’s just a quirky yet sad scene where Charley, with a frightened but determined look on his face, is sitting on his bed sharpening a stake. The way Ragsdale handles the role makes me believe that he is hell-bent on defeating Jerry even if it means killing himself and looks on Amy and Evil Ed’s faces are priceless. It’s clear that they think Charley has completely gone overboard but it’s one of those moments where, as the audience, we know what’s really happening and we feel sympathetic for Charley.

8) Billy Cole melts

This is sort of on par with the previous scene but as a kid, and even now, I always admired the special effects Fright Night had, particularly this exceptionally gory melting sequence. Fresh from seeing The Blob (1988), seeing somebody’s skin melt and peel down their bones was one of the most satisfying things I could ever hope for in a horror movie. There’s green goop, sand and slimy bones and it begs the question: what in the hell was Billy Cole and why did he melt?

7) Jerry dies

There was a gap between the ages of 13 and 17 where I didn’t watch Fright Night so when I saw it for the first time in 4 years, I thought the scene where Jerry’s “skeleton” bursts into flames at the end was digitally enhanced with computers. It wasn’t until later I found out that Fright Night was made in ’85 meaning that was all practical effects. I couldn’t believe how amazing it looked and it will forever stand out to me as being one of the best examples of practical effects done right. Additionally, I love this scene because of that painful/remorseful “AMY!” that Jerry lets out as he’s being fried. It’s such a sad moment because you can tell, in his last dying moments, that Jerry really loved her.

6) Amy shows her teeth

For the longest time I was grown up on old-school vampire mythologies; the white fanged teeth, the pale face and the hypnotizing eyes. You can understand that when I saw Jerry for the first time, it was a shock but that moment when Amy looks up towards the camera to reveal her monstrous form… it was “what the fuck!” moment for me. I loved that scene because it showed just how far vampires have progressed since the Bela Lugosi era; now they are seen as literally demons in human form. The way Amy’s mouth peels back into a harlequin smile, a mouth full of swollen gum and crooked, jagged teeth screamed Joker meets Dracula. I should have known by the poster that it would be coming but you know how posters get sometimes… they lie to sell the movie. In this case, what you see on the poster happens.

5) “Welcome to Fright Night… for real.”

Way before I even went to a midnight screening of this film, I use to cheer every time Jerry walked into the screen and mockingly uttered that infamous line. It was at that moment, the second after he leaned up against the banister and crossed his arms, that I Knew that shit was about to get real. I had chills because everything from this point on was real and not TV. It was that ominous mark that would start the epic confrontation between good and evil and it was an indicator to my friends and family that from that point on, I’d be completely transfixed with the movie.

4) Jerry seduces Amy

I was always fond of this scene, especially now, because it brings back that time-honored tradition of sexuality and vampirism. For a majority of the modern horror era, vampires were scene as emotionless monsters who only kill and drink blood. But this scene stands for something; it shows that a modern vampire movie can still retains that trademark but at the same time compromise to cater to modern generations. Otherwise, the scene is very passionate but yet very ominous. The photography highlights Amy’s curvatious body and Jerry’s soft gentle touch only further proving that he isn’t just drinking her blood for the hell of it but rather because he’s in love with her. Complete with Fiedel’s exotic and electric score, this scene stands out as being one of the more hypnotic scenes in the entire film.

3) Peter kills Evil Ed

For the longest time, and even now, the transformation scene in American Werewolf in London is regarded as being one of the greatest and most painful werewolf scenes in the history of cinema. While there is no doubt that it’s true, I believe the scene where Peter kills Evil Ed (who changed into a wolf) was probably one of the saddest scenes in horror history. I was always plagued by seeing the half wolf half man leaned up against the wall trying in vain to pull the stake out of it’s chest. The way it howls in agony as it stumbles to the ground and Peter’s teary face once he realizes that the wolf is slowly reverting back into a human. The face Ed gives Peter in his final moments is that of a tortured and cursed young man on his dying breaths. When he finally reverts back he’s left naked, exposed, vulnerable but dead. It’s such a sad scenes for such a cheesy movie.

2) Jerry comforts Evil Ed

There was always this eerie sense of comfort that attracted me to this scene and I think I can attribute that to many different things. The way that Jerry’s silhouette walks down smoky ally reminds me of the old black and white noir films of the 40’s. The cold and foreboding tone that accompanies the scene and the inevitable jump presence of Jerry. However, I think I like this scene because it shows a bond between Jerry and Evil Ed, a bond that goes beyond than just blood-sucking. Jerry is considered an outcast and was probably shunned in his time for being a vampire. Evil Ed is considered different from most norms of society so you can also argue that he’s an outcast like Jerry. The dialogue between Jerry and Evil Ed explains a bulk of it but it’s that realization in both of their eyes that they were meant to cross paths with each other. I also like the fact that it shows vampires as just not demons that chase women but also interact between men as well.

1) Jerry confronts Charley

This scene is considered my favorite of all the scenes because of what happens. Of course it was the first time in my life where a vampire wasn’t just a guy with fake fangs in his mouth and it was one of the scenes that made me jump back in my chair when I first saw it. The real reason why I love it is because Jerry is shown as a sympathetic character and not just an unstoppable monster that wants to kill Charley for discovering his secret. Instead, Jerry tamely asks Charley to leave what he saw at the door and just forget about the whole thing. He does this peacefully but when Charley gets stubborn, he grabs him by the throat and tells him that he’s giving him a choice, which was something he never had. This scene feels like a continuation of where Stoker’s Dracula left off. It further sets up the fact that Jerry is a tortured person who lived a cursed life and doesn’t want any trouble. It’s one of the more unique twists on the vampire mythology that I never saw before and I love it for that.


Patrick said...

I really enjoyed that article. Impressive writing. Lots of fun to read information and intelligent viewpoints on film as art. Excellent job.

Fright Night is a great vampire movie. I haven't seen that movie in a long time and your post honored it. That scene where Evil dies was heart-wrenching. Lot to handle when you're 15 years old. Of course, I loved every minute of it. But still.

Thanks for sharing that with the horror loving community. Have a good one.

That was a fun movie. Scary vampires are my personal favorites. 30 Days of NIght, Salem's Lot, Fright NIght; they all had the monstrous vampires. The romantic vampires are cool in their own way but they don't speak to me the same way.

Thanks for writing that piece and sharing it with the horror loving community. Have a good one and keep up the great work.

Mr. Johnny Sandman said...

Thank you very much Patrick!

Johnny Truant said...

Well of course you would pick these moments. They are probably everyone's favorite bits of the movie. Faggot.

Mr. Johnny Sandman said...

Not all of them "Johnny." I lot of people love that scene where Peter presses the cross against Evil's head or when Evil dresses up in the wig. None of those scenes are in the list.

ppaker said...
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Anonymous said...

Good stuff. I found this article after watching Fright Night for the first time. My favourite scene is when Peter discovers Jerry with the mirror.

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