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Blu-Ray :
Release Date: January 20th, 2015 Movie Release Year: 1985

Fright Night (1985): 30th Anniversary Special Edition

Overview -

Meet Jerry Dandridge. He's sweet, sexy, and he likes to sleep in late. You might think he's the perfect neighbor. But before inviting Jerry in for a nightcap, there's just one thing you should know. Jerry prefers his drinks warm, red and straight from the jugular! It's Fright Night, a horrific howl starring Chris Sarandon as the seductive vampire and William Ragsdale as the frantic teenager struggling to keep Jerry's deadly fangs out of his neck. Only 17-year-old Charley Brewster (Ragsdale) knows Jerry's bloodcurdling secret. When Charley can't get anybody to believe him, he turns to TV horror host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), who used to be the "Great Vampire Killer" of the movies. Can these mortals save Charley and his sweetheart Amy (Amanda Bearse) from the wrathful bloodsucker's toothy embrace? If you love being scared, Fright Night...will give you the nightmare of your life.

Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Region Free
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
English SDH
Special Features:
Audio Commentary
Release Date:
January 20th, 2015

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


Almost halfway into 'Fright Night,' the sleeper hit of 1985's summer movies, Tom Holland ('Child's Play') makes his intentions fairly clear. Using one of his characters as a momentary mouthpiece, the writer/director lets out a disappointing outcry about the state of modern horror movies. It's an amusing sequence made all the more ironic when that character is a washed-up actor reminiscent of classic Hammer Films fare, played marvelously by the wonderful Roddy McDowall. Even his name, Peter Vincent, recalls iconic genre figures Vincent Price and Peter Cushing, though McDowall's performance invokes the latter's attributes more — down to the jacket and hair. These various layers of irony and tongue-in-cheek humor are what have made the movie a cult horror favorite.

Mr. Vincent declares to William Ragsdale's suburbanite Charley Brewster that young moviegoers don't care about the stylishly atmospheric classics. By the mid-80s, horror was often defined by the amount of violence and gore inflicted by some crazed, perverse maniac. (He might as well be speaking to contemporary audiences.) When Charley pleads for his help to kill a vampire living next door, McDowall's reaction is timeless because he suddenly realizes he has a lunatic nipping at his heels — probably influenced by those same sadistic movies. In this short exchange, Holland makes known he wants his little vampire flick to be something topical while at the same time recalling what he saw as a missing ingredient in much of modern horror.

Simply put, 'Fright Night' is an homage to horror classics — a fond look back at a time when the genre was filled with atmosphere, suspense, and mystery. In fact, those films of yesteryear were heavily dependent upon those key features for generating frights, not just in-your-face brutality and bloodshed. Because violence had to be implied rather than shown, filmmakers were forced to be doubly creative with the camera and special-effects gimmicks were used only when necessary and often reserved for the latter half. Much of Holland's movie stays true to this as well, giving his viewers only glimpses of optical and mechanical effects as the story progresses and postponing the best for last. He devotes most of the time to the characters and building up to a spectacular showdown.

2011 Original Release (top)

30th Anniversary Edition (bottom)

Holland's best camerawork can be seen during the nightclub sequence, just after Charley's friend, Evil Ed (a feverish Stephen Geoffreys), is attacked and continuing on when his girlfriend, Amy (Amanda Bearse), awakens in the house of Jerry the vampire (Chris Sarandon). Granted, much of what is seen feels dated and somewhat corny, along with the music and outfits. But Holland's eye for style and composition remains highly impressive for one making his directorial debut, slowly showing Amy's submission to Jerry's seductions. Mixed with Kent Beyda's editing, the entire sequence has a great rhythm and flow — another instance of Holland demonstrating his objective. He's not only creating an homage to gothic horror, but updating it for modern audiences to delight in.

The characters themselves are also taken from certain familiar archetypes, which makes up for much of the film's intentional cheesiness. McDowall's Peter Vincent is an obvious given to any long-time fans of the genre. Charley and Amy are caricatures of the two teen lovers who stumble onto a terrifying mystery. Think of the opening as the two kids necking at "Make-Out Point" and interrupted by the perfectly cued falling meteor or the alien invasion. A nice added touch is seeing the good-girl, plain-Jane Amy come to a sexual awakening later on in the movie. None of the characters are meant to be taken seriously. They're sly, sarcastic performances subtly poking fun at film tropes. Even Sarandon's Jerry brings back the enchanting appeal and charm of the iconic Hammer vampire writhing with sensual undertones.

Released at a time when theater screens were flooded by depictions of meaningless violence and gore inflicted by some crazed maniac, Tom Holland's 'Fright Night' serves as a witty tongue-in-cheek homage to classic horror cinema. Invoking in particular the style of Hammer Films, the 1985 vampire flick is essentially a clever celebration of and a tip-of-the-hat to movies that were more subtle, mysterious and atmospherically gothic. Now a cult favorite, it continues being an amusingly entertaining feature for genre enthusiasts everywhere.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'Fright Night (1985)' comes to Blu-ray as a Limited Edition release courtesy of Twilight Time. The Region Free, BD25 disc is housed in a clear standard keepcase accompanied by a six-page booklet with a stimulating essay written by screenwriter Julie Kirgo. At startup, the disc goes straight to the main menu with the usual options, a still photo and music playing in the background.

Video Review


30th Anniversary Edition (bottom)

For its second run on Blu-ray, this 30th Anniversary limited edition of Tom Holland's 'Fright Night' appears to be the same 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode as before, offers cult enthusiasts the very best presentation of the 1985 comedy-horror. Only, there is one notable difference. Struck from a freshly-made 4k master, the transfer is the identical beautiful and consistent video as before, except contrast seems to have been boosted slightly here. Thankfully, this very minor alteration is a negligible and easily overlooked without a direct comparison, as it doesn't hurt anything else and whites remain clean and crisp throughout.

As for the rest of the presentation, I'll repeat my previous take since nothing else has changed. Fine object and textural details are outstanding and very well-defined for a film of this vintage. Granted, it's not the sort of material that can match the sharpness of newer releases, but compared to its standard def counterpart, this is a marked improvement. From the interior design of Jerry's house, the foliage around Charley's neighborhood or the clothing of any given character, the transfer is quite distinct and often striking.

Presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the video is awash in a thin layer of film grain, giving it an appreciable cinematic quality. Black levels waver a tad in some scenes, but they're generally true and stunningly intense, providing the image with wonderful depth. Background info and minor details are discernible in low-lit interiors and nighttime sequences. The color palette receives a significant boost with richly-saturated and energetic primaries that never seem artificially tweaked or terribly manipulated, making this a remarkable and worthwhile upgrade of a long-time cult favorite.

Audio Review


30th Anniversary Edition (bottom)

Much like the video, the audio is identical to the previous edition except for one much appreciated addition. Although the engineers who worked on this DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack didn't completely revamp the original elements, making for a great listen in its own right, Twilight Time also offers the option of watching in the movie's original Dolby Stereo design, which in my opinion is more satisfying and arguably superior.

Whether in the 5.1 remix or the stereo track, this very front-heavy presentation displays crisp, precise dialogue reproduction that never falters. The soundstage exhibits excellently-balanced channel separation and imaging that feels considerably wide with splendid warmth and fidelity. Acoustics are sharp and lifelike in most every interior scene while the mid-range exhibits crisp, distinct detailing in the instrumentation with room-penetrating clarity. In the upmix offering, rears are occasionally employed for subtle atmospheric effects, which nicely enhance the soundfield without being a distraction.

The LFE, however, is terribly wanting in both choices, but is likely a result of the source rather than a fault in the codec. It's most apparent during the nightclub sequence because the songs noticeably lack any bass extension. Interestingly, Brad Fiedel's original score, which is the clear winner of the whole presentation, does come with a perceptible low-end which adds great depth. The distinction and clarity in the music and each instrument used is rather marvelous, exceeding all expectations. In fact, the entire lossless mix is a stunning listen on Blu-ray and something which fans are sure to really enjoy.

Special Features


30th Anniversary Edition (bottom)

  • Audio Commentaries — First commentary track has filmmaker Tim Sullivan moderating a panel discussion with writer and director Tom Holland talking and stars Chris Sarandon and Jonathan Stark. This is followed by another where Sullivan, this time joined by journalist Jeremy Smith, once again moderates a lively chat with Holland, William Ragsdale, Stephen Geoffreys and special-effects artist Randall Cook.
  • Vintage EPK (SD, 95 min) — Nearly as long as the movie itself, the original EPK piece features various interviews praising cast & crew, discussion on the film's themes, a music video along with interviews of the band and lots of surprisingly amusing BTS footage.
  • Reunion Panel (SD, 55 min) — Originally recorded in 2008 during Fear Fest 2, Tom Holland, Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Stephen Geoffreys, Amanda Bearse and Jonathan Stark reunite for a Q&A panel discussion where the group shares memories and laughs.
  • "Choice Cuts" (SD, 29 min) — Broken into three sections, this collection of interviews features Shock Till You Drop contributor Ryan Turek chatting with director and writer Tom Holland over a variety of aspects of the production, story, history and anecdotes from the set.30th Anniversary Edition (bottom)
  • Isolated Score (HD) — Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.
  • Still Gallery (HD)
  • Trailers (HD)

Final Thoughts

30th Anniversary Edition (bottom)

With amusing, tongue-in-cheek performances by the entire cast, Tom Holland's 'Fright Night' is a highly-entertaining and clever homage to classic horror cinema. The film and narrative is not only a throwback to the atmospheric styling of those movies, but an attempt to reintroduce and modernize their tropes for contemporary audiences with cheesy fun and fright. Despite being a re-release, the limited Blu-ray edition from Twilight Time features the same excellent video and audio presentation, but a surprisingly worthwhile assortment of supplements. This is a collector's item aimed directly at cult enthusiasts and the most loyal of fans, but it's worth every penny if you really love the film and want the bonus material.