1:The high school drama (first love and best pals) At the beginning of the film, we learn that Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is tired of his girlfriend (Amanda Bearse) putting off his advances. He wants to go “all the way” until he spies a couple of men carrying a coffin into the basement next door. When Amy decides she is ready to go “all the way,” Charley is distracted. This causes a rift between the couple. A few days later at school, Amy serves Charley a Sloppy Joe in the kisser after being ignored by him once again. Charley’s best pal “Evil Ed” (Stephen Geoffreys) teases him with the classic line, “You’re so cool, Brewster!” Speaking of “Evil Ed,” he gives Charley tips on how to prepare against a vampire even though he thinks Charley is nuts (Why Charley doesn’t know this information already I will never understand since he watches so many horror movies). Amy and Ed are loyal to Charley and team up to help him. They assume he is delusional because he claims that his next door neighbor is a vampire.
2: The night club scene (It rules!) Even though Charley appears to live in a small town, Charley and Amy find themselves chased into a happening night club by Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon). While Charley is focused on a call with Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), Jerry seduces Amy on the dance floor. No woman could resist Jerry on the dance floor! Dude’s got a vibe that can be felt across a room! I’ve spent quite a bit of time, over the years, wishing I was dancing with the seductive Mr. Dandrige. Dang Charley for spoiling the entire moment!
3: The throwback to old horror films (Peter Vincent aka Peter Cushing plus Vincent Price) At the beginning of the movie, the audience meets horror movie host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowell) aka the Great Vampire Killer. He made tons of vampire flicks back in the day, and now he is reduced to hosting a late night horror movie show. Charley, of course, is a huge fan and attempts to get Mr. Vincent to help him dispatch his super suave neighbor who just happens to be a vampire. Unfortunately, Peter Vincent is a complete coward and doesn’t actually believe in vampires…until he is paid to pretend he does. His lack of faith, however, comes back to haunt him…”You have to have faith for this to work on me, Mr. Vincent!”
4: The small town feel (It looks like fall too!) Charley lives on a quiet street not too different from the one I grew up on except I never had a sexy vampire living next door. The last thing Charley expected on his quiet, idyllic street was a vampire and his daytime protector (Jonathan Stark) moving into the fixer upper next door (sounds like a new HGTV show to me…Dandrige and Cole’s House Flipping 101).
5: Jerry Dandrige…Of course! First of all, he is smoking hot! The sexiest vampire on film in my humble opinion. Charley’s mom and Amy are immediately charmed in his presence, and who could blame them? He is also a snappy dresser! Dandrige’s wardrobe is fantastic! No stuffy tuxedos or black capes for this 80s vampire! He has cool sweaters and a gray leather trench coat. He is charming too! Sure, he tries to kill Charley, but to be fair, he warned Charley what would happen to him, and those he loved, if he did not stop bothering him. He actually gave Charley a choice: stop harassing him, and he would leave Charley alone. Charley brandished a crucifix as a response…the moron! Jerry also has a great sense of humor. When Charley comes downstairs to find Jerry drinking a bloody Mary with his mom (Dorothy Fielding), the look on Charley’s face is priceless.
Bonus: Speaking of humor…
One of the things that sets this vampire movie apart is the use of humor (This was done again, with great success, in 1987’s The Lost Boys).
Evil Ed, “Yeah, then he’ll be able to suck his way through the entire town… not that it would be much of a loss…”
Evil Ed, “He got me, Charley! He bit me! You know what you’re gonna have to do now, don’t you? Kill me. Kill me, Charley… before I turn into a vampire, and… GIVE YOU A HICKEY!”
Detective Lennox, “Sure, and I’m Dirty Harry. Now let me tell you something kid. If I ever catch your ass down at the station house again, I’m throwing it in jail FOREVER!”
Peter Vincent, “Where is Charley’s mother?”
Evil Ed, “Oh, well, apparently she’s working nights. BUT!… she left a note.
Mmmmmm mmm! His dinner’s in the oven!”
Jerry Dandrige, “Welcome to… Fright… Night! For real.”