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In Fright Night (1985) Billy Cole is described as Jerry Dandrige's "day guard". During the movie Charlie mentioned Billy wasn't a vampire because Billy was seen walking around in the sunlight.

As part of the climax, Peter Vincent shoots Billy in the head and several other places, but Billy doesn't stop until Charlie stakes him in the heart which causes Billy to melt, turn to sand and then explode.

What exactly was Billy if not a vampire? Some kind of golem?

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According to the Fright Night wiki, he was a vampire servant:

A vampire servant is someone who has been bitten by vampire and made into a loyal protector. They are not made into full vampires, but they have great strength and seem to survive nearly everything a vampire can. They can survive in the sunlight like an ordinary person.

While there is a clear distinction between vampires and the more-than-human ghouls that serve them it could be said that the vampires that are recently turned by older, more powerful ones like Jerry or Regine Dandridge are beholden to them. This master/ disciple relationship makes the younger vampires the thralls of their master's will much like the mortal ghouls Billy Cole and Bozworth.

Given the paragraph above, if given the choice I think I'd rather be the servant!

It is worth noting however that the above paragraph doesn't reference anything. The question was also asked over at the IMDB in the FAQ for the film, with the answer stating:

At one point, Peter Vincent notes that Billy can walk about in the daylight and proclaims that he is human. Near the end of the movie, however, Billy disintegrates into sand and green goo, definitely not human. Most viewers conclude that Billy was some kind of ghoul or possibly a 'half-vampire' who hasn't yet been fully turned. Another possibility is that he was a golem, made by Dandrige from sand and other matter in order to serve as his protector.

This seems to suggest that there is no definitive answer.

I like the idea of the vampire servant and how he has only been partly turned as it appears to draw similarities with characters like Renfield and Jonathan Harker in Dracula - being subservient and yet not fully turned.

However - it is never explicitly stated in the film and hasn't been explicitly addressed since. The most common answer seems to be a ghoul/familiar (i.e. half turned servant), with the only certainty about him being that he isn't a vampire as he can withstand daylight.

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"if given the choice I think I'd rather be the servant!" Yeah, no doubt! I was thinking ghoul more so than a golem since golems are usually not so "lively" as Billy was (talking, joking, human like). –  DustinDavis Mar 24 at 17:40
    
True. I had a look on some of the forums discussing the film, and many used ghoul, servant, familiar and golem interchangeably (whether right or wrong, I don't know - need to read up on my gothic terminology!) –  Andrew Martin Mar 24 at 17:41
    
I'm going to accept this answer and the term "vampire servant" because I think that it makes most sense. Master vampires creating loyal, strong and capable servants to protect them while they are in slumber (and weak). Billy fits all of those things and considering he was stabbed in the heart and died, it fits. –  DustinDavis Mar 24 at 17:44
    
+1 for the Bram stoker dracula correlation!! cant believe this is the first question on Fright night here. –  Dredd Mar 25 at 18:37

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