Fright Night

USA 1985, 108 mins
Director: Tom Holland

When certified horror buff Charlie Brewster becomes convinced the two guys next door are vampires, everyone thinks he’s just watched too many spooky movies. But as the signs add up, Charlie turns to veteran horror host Peter Vincent for help. A pitch-perfect blend of horror, humour and homoeroticism, this much-loved cult classic is a fascinating study of nonconformity and otherness, offering a bounty of queer subtext to sink your teeth into.
Michael Blyth,

A contemporary review
Although, thanks to John Landis and Rick Baker, the werewolf seems to be having little difficulty in keeping up with the 1980s (actually achieving teenage idol status as the break-dancing basketball champion in Teen Wolf), the vampire is finding it less easy to shake off the Carpathian image. Tom Holland (whose script for Psycho II similarly sought to update Gothic nightmares) has now applied the sophistication of the Ghostbusters era to the familiar iconography of the undead, complete with coffins, stakes, and lethal giant bats. It’s an enterprising hybridisation, for which Dracula fans may be expected to raise at least an anaemic smile of approval.

From his careers as actor (prolific) and screenplay writer (modest), Holland has evidently learned enough to put together an efficient first film as director. Elegantly photographed by Vilmos Zsigmond’s former assistant Jan Kiesser, Fright Night is unarguably a smoother ride, and with more comfortable performances than, for instance, Wes Craven’s horrendously ugly and edgy Nightmare on Elm Street. There are plenty of pleasing details, like the curl of a wood shaving over an impermeable fingernail as it slides grimly along a bannister, the mother placidly offering her son a Valium when he has just avoided being flung out of a window, or the vampire listening with modest pride to his rival’s distant scream at the discovery that Amy has been fanged. Owing nothing to special effects but everything to script and timing, two particularly happy encounters are the scene in which Charley’s accusations are outfaced by the vampire’s politely incredulous assistant (an appealing acting debut by Jonathan Stark), and the sequence when Dandridge mesmerises Amy on the dance floor and calmly tosses aside the heavies who come to her defence. If the old legend is to offer any kind of chill in a modern context, these are surprisingly convincing illustrations.

Chris Sarandon plays the monster as the established smoothie, a plausible neighbourhood psychopath right up to the disappointing moment of dissolution when the eyes go weird, the teeth grow, and the single objective is a box in the cellar. Holland rounds it all off with a battle royal amidst the antique furniture, bolts of sunlight knocking the antagonists across the room and crushing the darkness in a whirlwind of flames. The snarling enemy deserves a better opponent, however, than the miscast Roddy McDowall, whose chalk-dust hair and beakily aggrieved expression are, of all the film’s challenges, by far the least persuasive. William Ragsdale, another newcomer, captures more accurately the script’s tone of part-fearful, part-hopeful bemusement, a horror-film fan by no means averse to finding the Universal classics coming to life next door. A pity, though, that after his first mauling by his supernatural adversary he shows not a single bruise.
Philip Strick, Monthly Film Bulletin, April 1986

Director: Tom Holland
Production Companies: Vistar Films, Columbia Pictures Corporation, Delphi IV Productions
Producer: Herb Jaffe
Associate Producer/Unit Production Manager: Jerry A. Baerwitz
Production Supervisor: Laura Buff
Production Co-ordinator: Sheila Barnes
Production Assistant: Steve Housewright
Assistant Directors: Gerald Sobul, Carole Keligian
Screenplay: Tom Holland
Director of Photography: Jan Kiesser
Camera Operator: Craig Denault
Video Consultant: Gail Mutrux
Visual Effects: Entertainment Effects Group
Visual Effects Producer: Richard Edlund
Visual Effects Editor: Marty November
Visual Effects Photography: Bill Neil
Optical Effects: Boss Film Corporation
Matte Department Supervisor: Neil Krepela
Chief Matte Artist: Matthew Yuricich
Matte Artist: Michele Moen
Head Effects Technician: Bob M. Cole
Special Effects: Michael Lantieri, Darrell Pritchett, Clay Pinney, Albert Lannutti
Mechanical Effects Supervisor: Thaine Morris
Creatures Designed/Created by: Randall William Cook, Steve Johnson
Editor: Kent Beyda
Additional Editor: Larry Bock
Production Designer: John F. Decuir Jr
Set Designers: Mark Fabus, Ross Gallichotte
Set Decorator: Jerry Adams
Production Illustrator: Brent Boates
Costume Designer: Robert Fletcher
Costume Supervisor: Mort Schwartz Costumer: Bettylee Balsam
Make-up Artist: Ken Diaz
Additional Make-up: Rick Stratton
Contact Lens Effect: Morton K. Greenspoon
Titles and Opticals: Modern Film Effects
Music: Brad Fiedel
Electric Violin: Ross Levinson
Music Editor: Jim Weidman
Choreography: Dorain Grusman
Sound Recording: Don Rush
Re-recording Mixers: John Reitz, David Campbell, David J. Kimball
Supervising Sound Editor: Tom McCarthy Jr
Stunt Co-ordinator: Bill Couch Jr

Chris Sarandon (Jerry Dandridge)
William Ragsdale (Charley Brewster)
Amanda Bearse (Amy Peterson)
Roddy McDowall (Peter Vincent)
Stephen Geoffreys (Evil Ed)
Jonathan Stark (Billy Cole)
Dorothy Fielding (Judy Brewster)
Art Evans (Detective Lennox)
Steward Stern (cook)
Nick Savage, Prince A. Hughes,
Ernie Holmes (bouncers)
Sorenson Heidi (hooker)
Irina Irvine (teenage girl)
Robert Corff (Jonathan)
Pamela Brown (Miss Nina)
Chris Hendrie (newscaster)

USA 1985
108 mins

Nosferatu (Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens)
Mon 17 Oct 20:50; Sun 13 Nov 15:50 (+ intro by Silent Film Curator Bryony Dixon); Sat 19 Nov 14:10
Tue 18 Oct 20:50; Fri 28 Oct 18:20; Tue 8 Nov 18:20; Sun 27 Nov 13:00
The Skeleton Key
Wed 19 Oct 18:00; Mon 14 Nov 20:45
Meet the Monsters: A Season Introduction
Thu 20 Oct 19:30 BFI YouTube
I Walked With a Zombie
Thu 20 Oct 20:40; Tue 1 Nov 18:10
Creature from the Black Lagoon (3D)
Sat 22 Oct 18:15 (+ pre-recorded intro by Mallory O’Meara, award winning and bestselling author of ‘The Lady from the Black Lagoon’); Sat 29 Oct 11:40; Tue 1 Nov 20:50
In Dreams Are Monsters Quiz
Sun 23 Oct 19:00-22:00 Blue Room
Kuroneko (Yabu no naka no kuroneko)
Tue 25 Oct 20:45; Mon 31 Oct 21:00; Fri 18 Nov 18:15
The Fly
Wed 26 Oct 21:00
La Llorona
Thu 27 Oct 20:30; Mon 7 Nov 21:00
Celluloid Screams and Live Cinema UK presents: Ghostwatch + Q&A
Fri 28 Oct 20:20
Fri 28 Oct 20:45; Tue 8 Nov 20:50
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Sat 29 Oct 18:30; Wed 30 Nov 20:50
Sat 29 Oct 20:45; Thu 17 Nov 20:50 (+ intro)
Nightbreed – Director’s Cut
Sun 30 Oct 15:10 (+ intro); Sat 12 Nov 20:35
28 Days Later
Mon 31 Oct 18:00 (+ Q&A with director Danny Boyle); Sat 26 Nov 20:45
Tue 1 Nov 20:40; Sat 19 Nov 15:10; Tue 29 Nov 20:40
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Wed 2 Nov 18:10; Sat 26 Nov 20:40
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death
Wed 2 Nov 20:45; Sat 19 Nov 20:45
Thu 3 Nov 20:55; Sat 26 Nov 13:00
Fri 4 Nov 18:30; Sat 19 Nov 12:10; Sun 20 Nov 18:30
Fright Night
Fri 4 Nov 20:50; Tue 22 Nov 20:40 (+ intro)
Sat 5 Nov 20:20 (+ intro by author Kier-La Janisse); Sun 27 Nov 15:30
Ganja & Hess
Mon 7 Nov 18:00; Sat 26 Nov 15:20
Wed 9 Nov 20:40; Sat 26 Nov 18:20
The Entity
Fri 11 Nov 17:55; Tue 15 Nov 20:30
Def by Temptation
Wed 16 Nov 18:10 (+ intro); Sat 26 Nov 18:10
Jennifer’s Body
Sun 20 Nov 15:15; Mon 21 Nov 18:00; Fri 25 Nov 20:45
Mon 21 Nov 20:30; Sun 27 Nov 12:20
Under the Shadow
Wed 23 Nov 20:40; Tue 29 Nov 18:10
Ouija: Origin of Evil
Thu 24 Nov 20:40; Mon 28 Nov 18:10
Pet Sematary
Fri 25 Nov 18:15; Mon 28 Nov 20:40
Good Manners (As Boas Maneiras)
Sun 27 Nov 18:10; Wed 30 Nov 20:25

City Lit at BFI: Screen Horrors – Screen Monsters
Thu 20 Oct – Thu 15 Dec 18:30-20:30
Beyond Nollywood World Premiere: Inside Life + Q&A with director Clarence A Peters
Sat 29 Oct 14:00
Matchbox Cine presents House of Psychotic Women
Sat 5 Nov 17:50
Son of Ingagi + Panel Discussion
Wed 9 Nov 18:10
Live Commentary with Evolution of Horror, Brain Rot and The Final Girls
Sat 19 Nov 18:00
Big Monster Energy
Tue 22 Nov 18:30

Welcome to the home of great film and TV, with three cinemas and a studio, a world-class library, regular exhibitions and a pioneering Mediatheque with 1000s of free titles for you to explore. Browse special-edition merchandise in the BFI Shop.We're also pleased to offer you a unique new space, the BFI Riverfront – with unrivalled riverside views of Waterloo Bridge and beyond, a delicious seasonal menu, plus a stylish balcony bar for cocktails or special events. Come and enjoy a pre-cinema dinner or a drink on the balcony as the sun goes down.

Enjoy a great package of film benefits including priority booking at BFI Southbank and BFI Festivals. Join today at

We are always open online on BFI Player where you can watch the best new, cult & classic cinema on demand. Showcasing hand-picked landmark British and independent titles, films are available to watch in three distinct ways: Subscription, Rentals & Free to view.

See something different today on

Join the BFI mailing list for regular programme updates. Not yet registered? Create a new account at

Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
Questions/comments? Contact the Programme Notes team by email