Chris Sarandon as Jerry Dandrige
|Created by||Tom Holland|
|Portrayed by||Chris Sarandon (1985)
Colin Farrell (2011)
|Relatives||Regine Dandridge (sister)|
Jerry Dandrige is a fictional vampire. He first appears in the 1985 film Fright Night portrayed by Chris Sarandon, which was later spun-off into a comic book series that utilized Sarandon's likeness. Dandrige, portrayed by Colin Farrell, also appears in the 2011 remake both of which he is the main antagonist. The original screenplay and film credits spell his last name "Dandrige", but some secondary sources, including the makers of the tie-in comics, use the spelling, "Dandridge" (with a third "d").
Fright Night (1985)
Jerry Dandrige moves in next door to teenager Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) and his divorced mother. Charley begins to suspect Dandrige is a killer after seeing a news report about a murdered woman whom Charley had seen in Dandrige's house, and the boy later makes the horrifying discovery that Dandrige is a vampire while spying on him through a window. Danridge soon learns about Charley's investigation of him and threatens his life, which leads Charley to seek out a TV host named Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) to help him find a way to kill Dandrige.
Fright Night (Comics)
Aside from using the alternate spelling of his name, the comics remain consistent with the original film. After his death, Dandridge's ashes are collected by The Legion of the Endless night, a powerful vampire organization. With the aid of a witch and using the body of an all-star NBA player named Moves Wilson, the Legion are able to resurrect Dandridge, who is now blessed with the ability to withstand the rays of the sun. As the Legion falls apart, Dandridge flees to France and begins to amass his own legion of vampires, beginning with a Parisian prostitute named Lili.
Fright Night (2011)
The character also appears in the 2011 remake of the film, also called Fright Night. Neighbor Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) comes to suspect that Dandrige is a vampire and responsible for the disappearances of several neighborhood residents.
In other media
Jerry Dandrige is portrayed as classic-type vampire who drifts from town to town to feed on the blood of living human victims. In both 1985 and 2011 film versions, he has all the ordinary powers that vampires in both contemporary literature and screen have which includes super-human strength and speed, sleeping in a coffin by day, not being able to enter a person's private house without an invite, turning into a vampire bat, being repelled by crosses, holy water, and can be killed by either sunlight or a wooden stake through his heart. In the 1985 version, Dandridge is said to be over 1,000 years old and comes from a long-extinct vampire clan based in Europe. In the 2011 version, Dandridge is said to be at least 400 years old and belongs to a similar extinct vampire clan based on an island in the Mediterranean Sea. In both versions, he has a vampire form of grey scaly skin, red-colored eyes, and rows of sharp teeth and sharpened fingernails that he hides with handsome human features. In the 1985 version, he has a part-human part-ghoul companion and daytime protector named Billy Cole who travels with him. In both versions, Dandridge appears reluctant to kill and feed off human blood, but seems to accept it as his means of survival. On top of that, Dandridge will do anything, including committing murder, to protect his secret. In one scene of the 1985 film, when Dandridge confronts Charley Brewster about him spying on and investigating him, Dandridge offers Charley a one-time choice to keep silent about his being a vampire and of his recent kills—a lifestyle that Dandridge claims not to have a choice in the matter himself. The 2011 version portrays Dandridge in a more sinister and less sympathetic light than in the 1985 version, as the Dandridge in the 2011 film keeps his victims alive in a secret section of his house where he feeds on their blood on a nightly basis.
In the original film, Jerry Dandrige has been variously interpreted as gay, bisexual, and "metrosexual". Literary critic John Kenneth Muir noted instances in the original film in which Dandrige and his human-slave protector are posed in potentially sexual positions. These include a scene in which Dandrige's male companion and daytime protector, Billy Cole, kneels before Dandrige. Cole is dressing a wound Dandrige has received, but Muir found the position reminiscent of fellatio. Dandrige's speech to "Evil" Ed Thompson, in which Dandrige convinces Ed to become a vampire, is also cast in the language of homosexual seduction. Ed is placed in a physically submissive stance, and Dandrige speaks of Ed's outsider status in language that echoes the outsider status of homosexuals in the 1980s.
Anthropologist Paul Clough and cultural critic Jon P. Mitchell characterized Dandrige as "beautiful but strange" and a man interested in seeking out relationships with young boys and young girls. Dandrige introduces Charley to homosexuality, bisexuality and, through his victims, prostitution. They called Dandrige's actions a metaphor for sexually transmitted diseases in general and HIV in particular.
According to Fright Night editor Kent Beyda, writer-director Tom Holland deliberately set out to insert homosexual imagery and themes into the film. He confirmed that the scene in which Cole goes to his knees in front of Dandrige was intended to evoke homosexuality as part of Holland's intent to explore every sexual aspect of the vampire myth.