Horror fan Charley Brewster is convinced his new next-door neighbor is a vampire. Charley of course is correct. The fiend even has designs on Charley's girlfriend. In a decade already stuffed with great movies, Fright Night combined so many of our favorite things: chills, thrills, laughs, a late night TV horror host, vampires next door, Marcy Darcy from Married with Children and the dashing style of Chris Sarandon. Here we'll take a look at 10 things you never knew about Fright Night.
You're too handsome, Brewster!
William Ragsdale, who had no major roles under his belt, had auditioned for Mask, losing out to Eric Stoltz, before securing the lead role in Fright Night. Writer-director Tom Holland had met with a number of actors for the crucial part of Charley Brewster, including a guy named Charlie Sheen. In the excellent 2016 documentary You're So Cool, Brewster! The Story of Fright Night, Holland recounted that he wouldn't even let Sheen read, as he found him to be just too ridiculously good looking to be believable as the boy-next-door. Incidentally, the same year Fright Night hit theaters, Sheen starred in a movie called The Boys Next Door.
Saradon almost didn't bite
Chris Sarandon first revealed to Fangoria, back in 1985, that he nearly passed on the role of Jerry Dandridge. As he recounted in more detail during a 2008 festival appearance, he'd said to himself, "There's no way I can do a horror movie. I can't do a vampire movie. I can't do a movie with a first-time director." But the script was so strong that the Oscar nominated actor decided to meet with Holland. The director agreed to make a few tweaks to Jerry, to make sure he was multi-dimensional. (The subplot involving Amy's resemblance to Jerry's old flame is said to be one of those changes.) As Holland explained to Fangoria, "I made a promise to Chris that I would make Jerry sensual and into a leading man; to show that side of him." It was Sarandon's idea that his character be seen eating fruit. He dreamed up the premise that there was some fruit bat in his vampire.
The Price is Right
Actor turned writer Tom Holland had a hit on his hands with the screenplay for Psycho II, having crafted the story responsible for luring a once apprehensive Anthony Perkins back to Norman Bates more than 20 years after the original. This gave the unapologetic horror fan enough cachet to make his directorial debut with Fright Night, a story he's described as "The Boy Who Cried Vampire." Originally, he'd hoped to have Charley seek out Vincent Price. Unfortunately, Price was in ill health. The eventual character, perhaps the least fearless vampire killer ever, was named Peter Vincent after Price and another classic horror icon, Peter Cushing. In an interview with Shock N' Roll, Holland said he ran into Vincent Price after the movie was released. "He said it was wonderful and he thought Roddy did a wonderful job."
Roddy McDowall's input
It was Roddy McDowall's idea for Peter Vincent to be a "dreadful actor," a ham-fisted has-been, in stark contrast to silver screen legends like Price and Boris Karloff. "Basically, he played one character for eight or 10 films, for which he probably got paid next to nothing," he told Monster Land magazine back in 1985.
"Unlike stars of horror films who are very good actors and played lots of different roles... [T]his poor son of a bitch just played the same character all the time, which was awful."
There's a non-playable character in the vampire video game Castlevania (N64) and Legacy of Darkness named Charlie Vincent. He's a relatively inept elderly vampire hunter, who if a player isn't careful, can become a vampire after failing to subdue Dracula. Charlie Vincent is most likely named after Brewster and Peter Vincent.
When we meet Peter Vincent, he's a late-night horror host. Holland knew a bit about television acting himself. Before his writing career took off, he had bit parts in different soap operas and even and episode of The Incredible Hulk. Vincent was actually the second Holland-penned role filled by McDowall. The veteran character actor was in The Class Of 1984, directed by Mark Lester from a Holland screenplay.
You're so cool, Evil Ed
Stephen Geoffreys and Anthony Michael Hall shared an agent, who mistakenly sent Geoffreys to audition for Weird Science in place of Hall. But it was there that he met casting director Jackie Burch, who remembered him and got him the script for Fright Night. He read it while filming teen comedy Fraternity Vacation, alongside Amanda Bearse. Geoffreys wanted to audition for Charlie, but of course, he was destined to steal multiple scenes as "Evil Ed," who uttered the line that became the title of the fantastic documentary, You're So Cool, Brewster! The Story of Fright Night. In 1988's 976-EVIL, directed by Robert Englund (of Freddy Krueger fame) and costarring Stephen Geoffreys, a Fright Night poster hangs in his character's room.
The original Fright Night ending
Fright Night was originally going to end with Charley and Amy making out on the couch, as Peter Vincent's show played in the background. Peter would be heard to say, "Tonight's creepy crawler is Dracula Strikes Again. Obviously about vampires. You know what vampires look like, don't you? They look like this!" Suddenly, Peter would transform into a vampire, on live television, as our heroes look on in horror.
Critic loved it
It's not often that an FX heavy unapologetic horror flick was able to crossover from the convention crowd to the mainstream, both in terms of box office and reviews. While lamenting a mixed 1985 horror bag that included what they deemed "the pretentiously stilted" Cat People, The Hunger, and The Keep, Fangoria declared Fright Night a wonderful exception. "[It's] a slam-bang major-studio monster movie... It tells a straightforward vampire story, updates the premise, gives it some new twists and a few laughs, and wraps it up with a sensational extended climax. A solid summertime spook show." Variety praised the directorial debut of writer Tom Holland, as did the late Roger Ebert, who wrote, "Fright Night is not a distinguished movie, but it has a lot of fun being undistinguished." Ebert was also a fan of Holland's follow-up, Child's Play, which featured Sarandon in a non-villainous role.
Fright Night Part III
Producers nudged the studio toward making a sequel a few months before the first one had even been released. Changes in studio management led to that project being killed. Fright Night Part II eventually came to light in 1989, with a different director. The movie was a bomb, but Roddy McDowall was still interested in playing Peter Vincent, so long as he could co-produce and convince Holland to return for a third.
By then the rights had gone to producer Jose Menendez. As Holland recounted to the 13th Floor website, two weeks before a planned meeting to talk about Fright Night III, Jose Menendez and his wife were murdered by their two sons. The Menendez Brothers trial became one of the most sensationalized true crime stories in history.
Dreamworks rebooted Fright Night in 2011, with Colin Farrell and the late Anton Yelchin. They licenced the rights to 20th Century Fox, who released the direct-to-video Fright Night 2: New Blood with all new actors in the lead roles. Then, in January 2017, Tom Holland took to Twitter to celebrate the imminent return of the rights to Fright Night back over to him, thanks to the Copyright Act of 1976, which allows creators to reclaim their licensed works after 35 years. "2 more years and the Fright Night copyrights come back to papa," he wrote. Holland will skip over the 2011 remake and its sequel, reportedly planning a direct follow-up to 1988's Part II.