With amusing, tongue-in-cheek performances, Tom Holland's Fright Night is a highly-entertaining and clever homage to the classic, atmospheric horror cinema of yesteryear, reintroducing and modernizing the tropes of those cult favorites for contemporary audiences with cheesy fun and fright. Housed inside an attractive SteelBook, the cult comedy-horror favorite moves into the 4K Ultra HD neighborhood with a gorgeous Dolby Vision video, an outstanding Dolby Atmos track and an awesome collection of new and legacy bonus features. The three-disc limited edition SteelBook UHD is Highly Recommended and makes a beautiful addition to the 4K horror library.
Almost halfway into Tom Holland's Fright Night, the director essentially uses one of his central characters as a momentary mouthpiece to announce his disappointing outcry about the state of modern horror movies. It's an amusing sequence made all the more ironic when the lament comes from Peter Vincent (the always wonderful Roddy McDowall), a washed-up actor reminiscent of classic Hammer Films fare and whose name immediately recalls iconic genre figures Vincent Price and Peter Cushing. Mr. Vincent declares to William Ragsdale's suburbanite Charley Brewster that young moviegoers don't care about the stylishly atmospheric classics, preferring instead brutally gory violence inflicted by some crazed, perverse maniac in a mask. And it's these subtle layers of irony and tongue-in-cheek humor that make this movie a cult horror favorite, a little vampire flick that's surprisingly topical while simultaneously recalling what Holland saw as a missing ingredient in many modern horror titles, which ironically remains true today.
Simply put, Fright Night is an homage to the horror classics, a fond nostalgia trip to a time when the genre was filled with atmosphere, suspense and mystery. In fact, those films of yesteryear were heavily dependent upon those key features for generating frights, not just in-your-face brutality, bloodshed and a barrage of jump scares. Because violence had to be implied rather than shown, filmmakers were forced to be doubly creative with the camera, and special-effects gimmicks were used only when necessary, often reserved for the latter half of the movie. Much of Holland's movie stays true to this as well, giving his viewers only glimpses of optical and mechanical effects as the story progresses and postponing the best for last. Much of the runtime is devoted to character development, the mood and patiently building to a spectacular showdown. Holland's best camerawork can be seen during the nightclub sequence, just after Charley's friend, Evil Ed (a feverish Stephen Geoffreys), is attacked and continuing on when his girlfriend, Amy (Amanda Bearse), awakens in the house of Jerry the vampire (Chris Sarandon).
Holland's eye for style and composition remains highly impressive for a directorial debut, slowly showing Amy's submission to Jerry's seductions. Mixed with Kent Beyda's editing, the entire sequence has a great rhythm and flow, another instance of Holland demonstrating his objective to not only create an homage to gothic horror but to update it for modern audiences to delight in. Other than McDowall's Peter Vincent, the rest of the ensemble also borrows from familiar archetypes, such as Charley and Amy being caricatures of the two teen lovers who stumble onto a terrifying mystery. Think of the opening as the two kids necking at "Make-Out Point" and interrupted by the perfectly cued falling meteor or the alien invasion. A nice added touch is seeing the good-girl, plain-Jane Amy come to her sexual awakening later on. All the characters are sly, sarcastic performances subtly poking fun at film tropes. Even Sarandon's Jerry brings back the enchanting appeal and charm of the iconic Hammer vampire writhing with sensual undertones.
Released at a time when theater screens were flooded by depictions of meaningless violence and gore inflicted by some crazed maniac, Tom Holland's Fright Night serves as a witty tongue-in-cheek homage to classic horror cinema. Invoking in particular the style of Hammer Films, the 1985 vampire flick is essentially a clever celebration of and a tip-of-the-hat to movies that were more subtle, mysterious, and atmospherically gothic. Now a cult favorite, the comedy horror remains an amusingly entertaining feature for genre enthusiasts everywhere.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings Tom Holland's Fright Night to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a three-disc limited edition SteelBook combo package. The dual-layered UHD66 disc is joined by two Region Free, BD50 discs, both of which sit comfortably on the opposing panel with one atop the other. The first Blu-ray disc contains the movie with a few special features while the second BD contains the rest of the bonuses. All three are housed inside an attractive collector's SteelBook package. At startup, viewers are taken directly to an animated menu screen with music and full-motion clips.
The cult comedy-horror favorite moves into the Ultra HD neighborhood sporting a sleek and gorgeous HEVC H.265 encode that was struck from a fresh, newfangled remaster of the original 35m camera negatives. Although not the sort of significant upgrade from its Blu-ray predecessor that we've come to expect, the native 4K transfer nonetheless flaunts a welcomed uptick in overall definition, exposing every nook and cranny of each character's rooms. Fine object and textural details are outstanding and often striking, from the interior design of Jerry's house and the threading of costumes to the foliage around Charley's neighborhood. The occasional moments of softness are to be expected for a film of this vintage and when taking into consideration the photographic style of Jan Kiesser.
The Dolby Vision HDR presentation also arrives with a nuanced yet richer palette than its HD SDR counterpart, consistently showering the visuals with deeply saturated and energetic primaries while various animated neon hues ironically furnish the horror with vibrancy and eye-catching zeal. A pitch-perfect contrast balance comes with crisp, radiant whites while specular highlights supply a tight, narrow glow in the hottest spots, allowing for excellent clarity of the finer aspects. Likewise, black levels are inkier and truer than the previous HD video while the minor details within the darkest corners and the poorly-lit sequences maintain great visibility. Awash in a thin, unobtrusive layer of natural grain, the 2.39:1 image comes with appreciable depth and a lovely cinematic quality, making for a fantastic and worthwhile upgrade of a cult favorite. (Dolby Vision HDR Video Rating: 88/100)
Like the video, the comedy-horror flies into home theaters with a fun, noteworthy Dolby Atmos soundtrack, offering a welcomed improvement over its DTS-HD MA predecessor. While remaining faithful to its original front-heavy design, the presentation occasionally employs the surrounds and the ceiling channels. But it's all done very selectively to subtly expand the soundfield and mainly reserved for atmospheric effects like the wind blowing in every direction or leaves rustling lightly above the listening area. The best moments are when Jerry flies through the air or walks across the roof convincingly panning overhead to generate an awesome hemispheric environment. The nightclub scene and Amy's transformation are other highlights with the music spreading all around and setting a bizarrely erotic mood.
Speaking of which, imaging continuously feels wide and broad as the music and background activity fills the entire soundstage while lightly bleeding to the top heights, creating a highly-engaging half-dome space. Delivering superb warmth and fidelity throughout, acoustical details are crisp and distinct with sharp definition in the instrumentation while maintaining superb clarity in the upper ranges and during the loudest segments. The low-end remains a bit wanting and not particularly noteworthy, but it is adequate with enough weight to provide Brad Fiedel's original score with depth and presence. With crisp, precise dialogue that never falters, the object-based mix makes for a great listen that fans will appreciate. (Dolby Atmos Audio Rating: 86/100)
For this UHD edition, Sony has rolled out an awesome collection of new and legacy bonus features, all of which are spread across the two accompanying Blu-ray discs.
Blu-ray Disc 1
Blu-ray Disc 2
With amusing, tongue-in-cheek performances by the entire cast, Tom Holland's Fright Night is a highly-entertaining and clever homage to classic horror cinema. The film and narrative is not only a throwback to the atmospheric styling of those movies, but an attempt to reintroduce and modernize their tropes for contemporary audiences with cheesy fun and fright. Housed inside an attractive collector's SteelBook, the cult comedy-horror favorite moves into the 4K Ultra HD neighborhood with a gorgeous Dolby Vision HDR presentation and an outstanding Dolby Atmos soundtrack, offering fans an excellent, noteworthy upgrade over its previous Blu-ray predecessors. Featuring an awesome collection of new and legacy bonus features, the three-disc limited edition SteelBook UHD is highly recommended for cult enthusiasts and makes a beautiful addition to the 4K horror library.
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