Some long overdue appreciation is due for the best American example of a cinematic tale of the undead from the 1980s. No, not Joel Schumacher’s bore The Lost Boys. Not even Kathryn Bigelow’s overpraised Near Dark. No, for my money the best vampire tale of the 1980s belongs to the Class of 1985: Tom Holland’s scary and funny Fright Night. Thanks in no small part to two great performances, Chris Sarandon as Jerry Dandridge, the vampire next door, and an Oscar-worthy turn by Roddy McDowall as a ham B-movie actor reduced to hosting horror flicks on a local TV station who finds himself having to fight vampires. For real.
Fright Night is that era’s vampire film that’s worth inviting into your home. (I’m not joking about McDowall and Oscar either. Klaus Maria Brandauer in Out of Africa and William Hickey in Prizzi’s Honor earned their supporting actor nominations, but McDowall deserved recognition over Don Ameche in Cocoon, Robert Loggia in Jagged Edge and Eric Roberts in Runaway Train.)