Do you know Jerry Dandridge? As a fan of vampire shows/movies (and books too, don't forget) I feel that, although there have been many great characters throughout the years based on Bram Stoker’s iconic character (that being Dracula), one stands out to me as one of my favorites — “Fright Night” vamp - Jerry Dandrige.
I have loved the movie "Fright Night" since I was a kid. Being introduced to this film sometime around the year of its release (1985) at a tender age, I always felt it was a near-perfect mix of horror and comedy. Jerry Dandrige, as portrayed by Chris Sarandon was a modern day blood sucker, which, with the exception of just a couple of films from the 1980's, was unheard of.
Jerry Dandrige may have been the first suburbanite vampire in cinema history. To me this made him even scarier, because he could have been my next door neighbor! His nemesis in the film, Charlie Brewster, was your typical dorky 80’s high school kid (portrayed by Zach Galligan look-a-like William Ragsdale), who as a vampire movie fan himself would naturally be more in tune to any odd goings-on, was the perfect foil to the suave Dandrige.
In the film, Jerry, upon finding out that this high school kid was on to him, made it his mission to take Charlie out with extreme prejudice. One of the things I really liked about Jerry Dandrige was his keen sense of style. Gone were the all-black get-ups that plagued previous vamps.
The writers of “Fright Night,” I feel, took the original story of Dracula and placed it in a modern setting (at least modern to 1985). Jerry does display many typical vampire qualities, however. He turns others into vampires, he seduces women with his magnetism, and he can turn into a bat!
Jerry Dandridge did not wear a cape, either! He wore sport jackets and turtle necks, which as I am sure you know, was the epitome of style in the 1980’s. Jerry Dandridge also had a live-in servant type, very similar to Dracula’s Renfield, although he doesn’t eat small creatures! In fact, Dandridge’s “helper,” Billy Cole, is less a slave to Jerry, but more of a roommate!
This bat, however, is rather large and, simply put, butt-ugly. If real bats looked like this creature, I don’t think I would ever leave the house at night. Chris Sarandon, I felt, was a very charismatic night walker, and I can only hope that more people rediscover him and this film, after seeing the Fright Night remake that was just released in cinemas a few months back.
In particular, the night club scene (where Jerry is wearing a yellow V-neck shirt) is just fantastic. He trounces two big bouncers who try to throw him out of the club — you didn’t see stuff like that in Dracula.
Fright Night is an excellent, scary vampire movie that you should go see when you have the chance.
" Terrific. A bisexual dominant vampire with kidnapping expertise." -- J.R. Ward, Lover Unbound