Charley Brewster is a teenage horror movie fan. One night he sees new neighbors moving in next door and they appear to be carrying what looks like a coffin. Charley shrugs this off until he sees his new neighbor Jerry Dandridge biting the neck of a young woman. He tells his mother what he saw but she doesn't believe him. He tries to tell his friend "Evil" Ed and girlfriend Amy but they also believe Charley is mistaken and begin to worry about his mental wellbeing. Charley calls the police claiming that he saw Dandridge killing his date and that there is a coffin in the basement. The police investigate and not finding anything wrong they tell Charley to never call the police again. 
 
Charley then decides to seek the help of veteran vampire movie star and local late-night horror showcase host Peter Vincent, who after a long and mediocre career has become cynical and dispirited. Vincent visits Dandridge with Brewster in order to persuade Charley that he's deluded, only to find that Dandridge casts no reflection in his mirror. When Dandridge lures Amy into his home, Charley persuades Vincent that they must confront Dandridge, igniting Vincent's long-slumbering faith and strength.

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