MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)

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Chris Sarandon as vampire Jerry Dandrige in FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)

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?

CHARLEY: What?

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?

CHARLEY: Nothin’…

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.

JERRY:  Really?

He grabs the cross and throws it aside.

JERRY: You have to have faith for this to work on me!

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Charley (William Ragsdale) and Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) prepare to battle vampires in FRIGHT NIGHT (1985).

 

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.

—Michael

Books by Michael Arruda:

New in 2019! DARK CORNERS, Michael Arruda’s second short story collection, contains ten tales of horror, six reprints and four stories original to this collection.

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Michael Arruda reviews horror movies throughout history, from the silent classics of the 1920s, Universal horror from the 1930s-40s, Hammer Films of the 1950s-70s, all the way through the instant classics of today. If you like to read about horror movies, this is the book for you!

 Ebook version:  $4.99.  Available at http://www.crossroadpress.com.  Print version:  $18.00.  Includes postage. Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.

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Michael Arruda’s first short story collection, featuring a wraparound story which links all the tales together, asks the question: can you have a relationship when your partner is surrounded by the supernatural? If you thought normal relationships were difficult, wait to you read about what the folks in these stories have to deal with. For the love of horror!

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IN THE SPOOKLIGHT: THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973)

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Here’s my latest IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column, on THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973), published in the December 2015 edition of THE HWA NEWSLETTER, the Official Newsletter of the Horror Writers Association.
Enjoy!
—Michael
IN THE SPOOKLIGHT
BY
MICHAEL ARRUDA
LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE
Not only is December a great time to watch a haunted house movie, but the plot of today’s movie ­ THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973) ­­­ actually takes place in December. How cool is that? Okay, so I’m easily amused.
I actually saw THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE when it was first released at the drive­in as part of a double feature with THE OTHER (1972). I was nine years­old when my parents took my younger brother and me to see this double bill, and while I slept through THE OTHER, I remember enjoying HELL HOUSE. So, there was certainly some nostalgia watching this one again recently on Netflix Streaming, especially since I hadn’t seen it in years.
Its tale of an investigative team probing a haunted house, trying to prove or disprove the existence of ghosts, reminds me an awful lot of Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” and the movie THE HAUNTING (1963) which is based on the Shirley Jackson story. But it’s actually based on the novel Hell House by Richard Matheson, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie.
In THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, Dr. Barrett (Clive Revill) a physicist, leads the examination into Hell House. His team includes his wife Ann (Gayle Hunnicutt), a psychic Florence Tanner (Pamela Franklin), and a physical medium, Benjamin Fischer (Roddy McDowall), who has the distinction of being the only survivor from a previous investigation into the house.
legend of hell house - team
So, do ghosts exist or not? Dr. Barrett seems hell bent on proving once and for all that they do not exist, but the spirit that occupies Hell House has other ideas.
THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE is ghostly fun from start to finish. It’s full of spooky atmosphere and contains plenty of creepy scenes.
Director John Hough, fresh off his horror hit for Hammer Films, the vampire film TWINS OF EVIL (1971) starring Peter Cushing, pretty much strikes gold again. Both of these films are excellent horror movies. Hough would go on to direct the Walt Disney classic ESCAPE FROM WITCH MOUNTAIN (1975), as well as its sequel RETURN FROM WITCH MOUNTAIN (1978) starring Christopher Lee. Hough would also direct Peter Cushing’s final movie, BIGGLES: ADVENTURES IN TIME (1986).
Roddy McDowall leads a fine cast. McDowall is excellent here as Benjamin Fischer, the man with the most insight into Hell House since he had been there before. I was already a Roddy McDowall fan when I saw this at the movies in 1973 because of the PLANET OF THE APES films. THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE was probably the first movie where I actually got to see his face!
So that’s what Cornelius looks like!
Clive Revill is authoritative as physicist and lead investigator Dr. Barrett, and Gayle Hunnicutt is memorable as his wife Ann. Pamela Franklin makes for a beautiful and oftentimes vulnerable psychic Florence Tanner. Even Michael Gough shows up as a corpse, which is a nice way of keeping this Hammer favorite from his signature overacting!
All four of the main characters go through changes since they are all affected one way or another by the spirit occupying Hell House. McDowall’s character probably fares the best, as he seems to
be best equipped to fend off the ghost.
Clive Revill’s Dr. Barrett, on the other hand, the supposed the leader of the team, is influenced by
the Hell House spirit pretty much from the get­go, as he quickly becomes irritable, angry, and worst of all confused. Sure, these could just be personality flaws, but more likely, they’re the work of the ghost.
Barrett’s wife Ann becomes sexually aroused and continually makes advances towards Ben Fischer, while psychic Florence senses who the ghost is but no one on her team seems to believe her, probably because she too exhibits odd behavior.
Is this assembled team just a group of oddballs? Or are they all influenced and infected by the supernatural presence residing at Hell House? You know the answer to that question, and that’s what makes THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE so much fun.
The prevailing feeling throughout THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE is one of uncertainty and doubt. The supernatural entity makes its presence known immediately, and the characters all become affected quickly, even if they don’t realize it.
THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE is an excellent horror movie and is yet another quality horror film from the 1970s, a decade which is chock full of horror classics. Sure, there are the big budget  classics like THE EXORCIST (1973), JAWS (1975), THE OMEN (1976) and ALIEN (1979),  but it’s also the decade of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972), THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) and HALLOWEEN (1978). It’s also the decade of films
like THE FOOD OF THE GODS (1976), THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (1977), and KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS (1977), low budget films that didn’t become huge hits but provided quality horror entertainment all the same. THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE falls into this latter category.
As we look back today at the 1970s, a decade famous for its bad hairstyles and disco music, it’s quite clear that for horror movie fans, it’s one of the best decades ever. There are a lot of really good horror movies made in the 1970s.
If there’s one weakness regarding THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE it’s the film’s plot. Its haunted house tale is nothing I haven’t seen before, and even though the film has fun with it, and it all works, at the end of the day, it’s still just another haunted house story with all the similar
trimmings.
What makes THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE stand out among other films of its type is a talented cast, strong direction, and a decent script by Richard Matheson.
As you make the rounds this holiday season, visiting family and fiends­­­ er, friends, don’t forget  to stop by HELL HOUSE. There’s someone there who’s dying to see you.
­­­END­­­

Print edition of IN THE SPOOKLIGHT now available!

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InTheSpooklight_NewTextI’m happy to announce that my horror movie review collection IN THE SPOOKLIGHT, previously available only as an EBook, is now available in a print edition at https://www.createspace.com/4293038.

So, for those of you who don’t do EBooks and prefer the printed page, or if you simply haven’t purchased an e-reader yet, now you too can own a copy of IN THE SPOOKLIGHT, a good old-fashioned book you can hold in your hands (not that there’s anything wrong with electronic books, mind you.)

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT is a collection of 115 “In The Spooklight” columns, all originally published within the pages of the HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER.  It’s been a staple of the HWA NEWSLETTER since 2000, where it’s still published each month.

In this book, you’ll read about horror movies from the silent era up until today.  You’ll find articles on Lon Chaney’s silent classics, the Universal monster movies, Hammer Films (of course!), the horror films of the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and into the 21st century.  You’ll read about the greats, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., Lon Chaney Sr., Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Vincent Price.  You’ll read about the supporting players, people like Edward Van Sloan, Dwight Frye, and Lionel Atwill from the Universal movies, and from the Hammer years, Michael Ripper, Thorley Walters, Francis Matthews, and Andrew Keir.

You’ll read about the leading ladies, Fay Wray, Helen Chandler, Veronica Carlson, Barbara Shelley, Ingrid Pitt, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Sigourney Weaver.

You’ll read about the directors, James Whale, Tod Browning, Terence Fisher, John Carpenter, John Landis, Ridley Scott, Peter Jackson, Christopher Nolan, and even Ingmar Bergman.

You’ll read about Ray Harryhausen, Rick Baker, George Pal, Willis O’Brien, Roddy McDowall, Claude Rains, John Carradine, Peter Lorre, Fredric March, Robert Armstrong, Steve McQueen, Harrison Ford, Gregory Peck, Simon Pegg, and Donald Pleasence.

You’ll meet your favorite monsters, Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, the Mummy, Mr. Hyde, the Phantom of the Opera, Dr. Phibes, King Kong, Godzilla, the Ymir, the Blob, Michael Myers, the Alien, and Baron Frankenstein.

In addition to these columns, you’ll also be treated to introductions by both Judi Rohrig and the Gila Queen herself, Kathy Ptacek.

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT puts your favorite horror movies in the spotlight and treats them the way they’re supposed to be treated, with reverence and respect.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t share a laugh or two, because we certainly do.

I think you’ll enjoy IN THE SPOOKLIGHT.  Thirteen years of satisfied HWA readers says you will.

—Michael