Release Date(s)1985 (March 27, 2017)
Studio(s)Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures (Eureka!)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A
[Editor’s Note: This is a UK REGION FREE Blu-ray release.]
Outlasting many of its peers in popularity over the years thanks to home video and repeated cable viewings, Fright Night was the directorial debut of Tom Holland, who had previously written Psycho II, The Beast Within, and Class of 1984 (and would go on to direct Child's Play). Shot on a low budget, its simple premise of a teenage boy who discovers that his next door neighbor is a vampire was a surprise hit with audiences and horror fans alike when it was originally released in 1985.
While it would be easy to site the cult appeal of Fright Night as the reason it’s stuck around all these years, you could also say that it’s aged well because of how seriously it treats its horror elements. This is not a straight up parody, nor does it go for blatant laughs instead of chills. It manages to have fun with the genre without making fun of it. It also takes its time telling the story, never rushing through it but allowing for key moments to play more effectively. Both Fright Night and The Lost Boys also re-popularized the idea that a vampire can only come into a house if invited, that crucifixes only protect their possessor if they truly believe in them, and that a vampire’s appetite isn’t strictly relegated to blood. With wonderful performances from the entire cast, including Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowall, Fright Night stands as not just one of the best of its era, but one of the most enjoyable vampire movies ever made. It helped to set the standard for a section of the genre that, at the time, was in need of a boost amid an overwhelming glut of slashers.
The movie has been released on Blu-ray before through Twilight Time here in the U.S., not once but twice. Getting one’s hands on a copy of either of those releases once they went out of print has been an expensive venture. Thankfully, Eureka! out of the U.K. has not only made this Blu-ray a Region Free release, but has taken advantage of the same 4K restoration that Twilight used. The quality is spectacular. It's thoroughly filmic in appearance with solid grain and texturing with a high level of fine detail on both foreground and background elements. Colors are fairly robust, and skin tones, though not perfect, exhibit mostly natural qualities. Black levels are deep and inky with wonderful shadow detailing, and contrast and brightness levels are perfect. There are no obvious digital enhancements of any kind on display, but I did notice some extremely minor scratches that were gone just as soon as they appeared. Besides being a different encode with better compression, it's also slightly darker than the Twilight Time release and, in my opinion, is better. The audio comes in English 2.0 and 5.1 LPCM tracks. Both are solid selections, but personally, I'm happy just to have the movie's original soundtrack in lossless quality. I actually prefer it over the 5.1; not because it's technically better, but because that's how I'm accustomed to hearing it. The 5.1 track is good and widens out the soundtrack a bit, but not a whole lot of extra activity is present other than what's already present. Dialogue is perfectly discernable and both sound effects and score are crisp and crystal clear with excellent separation, on both tracks. Some subtle sound placement is definitely noticeable, but it feels more natural on the 2.0 track (or it's simply a preference on my part). Either way, having multiple soundtrack options is always preferred. Subtitles are also included in English SDH for those who might need them.
The bonus materials on this set are also impressive and satisfying, but not complete. What you do get is footage from the movie’s Fear Fest 2008 Reunion Panel; the 3-part Shock Till You Drop Presents Choice Cuts: Episode XXII with Tom Holland and Ryan Turek; the movie's original electronic press kit, complete with vintage interviews and behind the scenes footage; 2 theatrical trailers; a still gallery of behind the scenes shots and memorabilia; a condensed but extensive version of the You're So Cool, Brewster!: The Story of Fright Night documentary, which runs almost 2 1/2 hours in length; and three featurettes: What is Fright Night?, Tom Holland: Writing Horror, and Roddy McDowall: From Apes to Bats. This is a Dual Format release, so a DVD copy is included as well. The Limited Edition Steelbook release also came with an insert booklet featuring a new essay by Craig Ian Mann, but sadly that is now out of print. Missing from the Twilight Time 30th Anniversary Edition release is an isolated score audio track; two audio commentaries: one with writer/director Tom Holland, actors Chris Sarandon & Jonathan Stark, and moderator Tim Sullivan, and the other with Tom Holland, actors William Ragsdale & Stephen Geoffreys, special effects artist Randall William Cook, and moderators Jeremy Smith and Tim Sullivan; and the 8-page insert booklets with liner notes by Julie Kirgo. If most of this material had been included, it would have been a more complete package, but the documentary and featurette material that’s been included covers enough information and interviews a variety of different people that they aren’t painful losses.
While few horror movies could ever be considered perfect, Fright Night comes pretty close. Even though it was released in the 1980s, it doesn't reek of the era. The fashions and hairstyles on display don't scream of the decade that they were a part of, unlike many other horror movies from this timeframe. One also can’t overlook the top notch effects, courtesy of Richard Edlund and his crew, who were fresh off of Ghostbusters at the time. This new Blu-ray release from Eureka! showcases all of this quite well. It‘s a definite must-own for fans and (hopefully) a release that will stay in print for a little while.
- Tim Salmons