Welcome to “Fright Night!” For real.
That’s Chris Sarandon as vampire Jerry Dandrige in one of my favorite vampire movies of all time, FRIGHT NIGHT (1985).
Welcome back to MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES, that column where we look at memorable quotes from the movies. Up today it’s FRIGHT NIGHT, a surprising horror hit from 1985 which starred Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowall. When I first saw this movie at the theater in 1985, I was hooked immediately. I liked it so much I saw it again a few days later.
There are lots of fun quotes from this movie, thanks to a lively and comedic script by Tom Holland, who also directed. I’m not usually a fan of comedic horror, but it works here in FRIGHT NIGHT because the humor is sharp and the horror genuine.
Here’s a look at some of the more memorable lines from the movie:
One of the main reasons FRIGHT NIGHT works so well is that Chris Sarandon knocks it out of the park as vampire Jerry Dandrige. Sarandon is funny, sexy, and very evil. As such, he gets some of the best lines in the movie. It really is a shame Sarandon never played this role again. In his one turn as an undead, Sarandon played one of the cinema’s’ most memorable vampires.
One of my favorite sequences is when high schooler Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) who’s been trying and failing to convince people that a vampire lives next door to him learns that a vampire cannot enter a home without being invited by someone inside, which makes him feel confident that he’s safe. When his mother calls him to come downstairs to meet someone, he thinks nothing of it but is horrified to see Jerry Dandrige sitting in his living room.
JERRY: What’s the matter, Charley? Afraid I’d never come over without being invited first?
Charley’s mother laughs, as a shocked Charley looks on in disbelief. Jerry plays up the charm here for Charley’s mother while keeping menacing undertones aimed at Charley.
JERRY: You’re right. You’re quite right. Of course, now that I’ve been made welcome, I’ll probably drop by quite a bit. In fact, anytime I feel like it. With your mother’s permission, of course.
Later, Jerry makes good on his promise and returns to threaten Charley:
JERRY: Now we wouldn’t want to wake your mother, would we Charley? Then I’d have to kill her too. Right?
(He grabs Charley by the throat.)
Do you realize how much trouble you’ve caused me? Spying on me. Almost disturbing my sleep this afternoon. Telling policemen about me!
You deserve to die, boy. Of course… I could give you something I don’t have. A choice. Forget about me, Charley. Forget about me, and I’ll forget about you. What do you say, Charley?
And Charley responds by pulling out a cross and shoving it into Jerry’s face, an action that doesn’t sit well with the vampire.
In one of the film’s better scenes, Jerry corners Charley’s friend “Evil” Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) in an alley.
JERRY: Hello, Edward. You don’t have to be afraid of me. I know what it’s like being different. Only they won’t pick on you anymore… or beat you up. I’ll see to that. All you have to do is take my hand. Go on, Edward. Take my hand!
It’s one of the better vampire scenes which involves a male on male seduction, and what makes it particularly effective isn’t necessarily its sexual aspect but the fact that Jerry takes advantage of a vulnerable high school teen, which makes him all the more creepy. More than that, it makes him a genuine creep!
Speaking of “Evil” Ed, earlier in the movie he describes to Charley some of the murders which had been reported in their neighborhood.
EVIL ED: You know what I heard on the police band last night?
EVIL ED: That wasn’t the only murder. The second in two days. And get this…both of them had their heads chopped off. Can you believe it?
CHARLEY: You’re sick.
One of the more interesting characters in the movie is Jerry’s live-in carpenter and human protector, Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark). He gets some of the more lively lines in the film, as in this scene where he catches Charley snooping around the basement of the house.
BILLY: Hey, Kid! What are you doing?
BILLY: Oh, yeah? Well, just see that it stays that way… kid.
Of course, the most memorable character in the movie other than vampire Jerry Dandrige is Peter Vincent, as played by Roddy McDowall. It’s one of my all-time favorite McDowall performances. Peter Vincent is a former horror star, and his name of course comes from Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, but Peter Vincent is not really based on them. Vincent was a horror star who made a bunch of low-budget horror movies, and now he’s making a living by hopping around various television markets hosting “Fright Night” movie programs which show his old movies, many of them featuring him playing a character that slays vampires.
Charley Brewster is a big fan, and so when he’s threatened by Jerry Dandrige, Charley decides to seek out Peter’s help.
The first time they meet, Peter tells Charley that he has just been fired from his job.
PETER: I have just been fired because nobody wants to see vampire killers anymore, or vampires either. Apparently, all they want to see are demented madmen running around in ski-masks, hacking up young virgins.
He adds that nobody believes in vampires anymore, to which Charley responds:
CHARLEY: I believe in vampires!
Peter smiles at him and says:
PETER: That’s nice.
When Charley adds that he has a vampire living next door to him, Peter hightails it away from the boy, and when Charley reminds Peter that he himself said he believes in vampires, Peter says:
PETER: I lied!
One of my favorite lines comes when Amy and Evil Ed visit Peter to try to convince him to help Charley, and they begin to reminisce about Peter’s movies, and Peter shows them a prop from one of his films and fondly thinks back:
PETER: It was one of my favorite roles.
Doesn’t sound like much, but to watch McDowall play it is something special. His performance adds so much to FRIGHT NIGHT.
Of course, Peter eventually comes to believe that Charley is telling the truth and agrees to help him, even though he’s terrified throughout.
When Peter finally confronts Jerry, he holds out a crucifix and says dramatically:
PETER: Back, spawn of Satan!
Jerry bursts out laughing.
He grabs the cross and throws it aside.
JERRY: You have to have faith for this to work on me!
Later, Peter is attacked by Evil Ed:
PETER: Mrs. Brewster. My God, the phone lines have been cut.
(The bed sheets move, and Peter sees that it’s not Mrs. Brewster in her bed, but Evil Ed.)
EVIL ED: I know. I did it!
PETER: Where is Charley’s mother?
EVIL ED: Oh, well, she’s working nights. But she left a note. (Reads) Mmmmmm mmm! His dinner… is in the oven!
And we finish with Jerry’s line as he meets Amy for the first time and presents himself dramatically, even kissing her on the hand. He then laughs and says:
JERRY: Isn’t that what vampires are supposed to do?
FRIGHT NIGHT remains playful throughout, even when being scary. It’s one of the best vampire movies around, definitely worth checking out.
Hope you enjoyed this look at memorable quotes from FRIGHT NIGHT, and join me again next time when we’ll look at cool quotes from another classic movie.