Five Plot Point Breakdowns: Fright Night (1985)

By September 14, 2017Main, Screenwriting 101

Screenplay Genre: Thriller/Teen film
Movie Time: 108 minutes

1. INCITING INCIDENT

Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) and his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) are in the throes of passionate foreplay. On Charley’s TV, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), an actor playing a vampire killer in a cheesy horror show, does battle with a creature of the night. But just as Amy takes off her blouse, life imitates art as Charley spots two men, Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon) and Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark) carrying a coffin outside his bedroom window. Charley tells Amy what he sees but she storms out of his room. (00:06:09)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

In a brazen effort to deal with the threat next door, Charley brings a police detective (Art J. Evans) over to Jerry’s house. Nothing comes of it, however, as Charley tells the detective that he believes Jerry is a vampire. The detective then leaves. With nightfall approaching, Charley seeks help from his friend Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys). Later that night, Jerry sneaks into Charley’s bedroom and confronts him. He gives Charley a choice; leave me alone or die.

Charley answers the ultimatum by sticking a pencil through Jerry’s hand. Charley’s mother wakes up and calls for Charley. Jerry escapes, leaving Charley scared straight with no one to turn to for help. Except Peter Vincent, the renown vampire killer. (00:35:11)

3. FIRST CULMINATION (Midpoint)

Charley approaches Peter and asks for his help. But Peter scoffs when Charley tells him his problem. Later, Amy and Evil Ed convince Peter to help. Peter buys time for Charley by setting up a meeting where all of them can meet to give Jerry a “vampire test”.

The next day, they all meet at Jerry’s house. Peter gives Jerry a small bottle of blessed holy water, which supposedly is lethal to any vampire. Jerry survives the test after warming up the water by the fire in his fireplace and then drinking it. Dejected, Charley is forced to admit that Jerry is not a vampire in front of his friends.

As Peter checks his face in his compact mirror, however, he notices that Jerry, standing behind him, is not in the mirror’s reflection. He panics and drops the mirror on the floor, leaving a shattered piece. Peter, along with Charley, Evil Ed, and Amy, hurry out of Jerry’s house. Jerry realizes what’s going on when he steps on the mirror piece that Peter left on the floor. (00:53:19)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

Jerry tracks down Charley, Amy, and Evil Ed. He isolates Ed in a dark alley, subdues him, and then turns Ed into a creature of the night. Next, he traps Charley and Amy at a night club where he seduces Amy and kidnaps her back to his house.

Charley goes to Peter, who by now has fought off Ed as he attempted to break in his new fangs with a fresh bite on Peter’s neck. Meanwhile, Jerry and Amy share an devilishly intimate moment in his house. When the moment is right, Jerry sinks his fangs into Amy’s neck, leaving trickles of blood sliding down Amy’s back. Charley’s situation has now worsened. Both of his friends have been conquered by Jerry’s charms. (01:14:00)

5. THIRD ACT TWIST

Charley and Peter go into Jerry’s house, armed with vampire-killing weapons. They find Amy shivering on the floor. After killing Billy, they confront Jerry. Peter holds up a crucifix, but Jerry is not repulsed. He tells Peter that he has to have faith. Just as Peter musters up his faith and clutches his crucifix tighter, the myriad of clocks on the walls chime loudly. The rising sun peaks over Jerry’s shoulder. It’s Jerry’s bedtime. (01:33:54)


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