Behind The Scenes Saturday: Fright Night (1985)

Welcome to Fright Night!… I mean welcome to Day 23 of Spooky Season!! Today is all about the classic vampire next door story, Fright Night! This film made its mark in the horror genre with its fun characters, absorbing story, and amazing practical effects! I hope you enjoy!!

(Trivia provided by IMDb.com)

(Pictures provided by google.com, facebook.com, and IMDb.com)

(SPOILER ALERT!!!)

(WARNING: PICTURES MAY CONTAIN GRAPHIC MATERIAL!!!)

  • When the movie was being filmed, the studio was focusing most of their attention on the movies Perfect and The Slugger’s Wife. The film’s director, Tom Holland saw this as a good thing. He stated, “Nobody paid any attention to Fright Night. It was wonderful!
  • The part of Peter Vincent was based on and even written for legendary horror actor, Vincent Price. However, Price’s health was declining, so he had to be more selective of the roles he felt he could do. Roddy McDowall didn’t consider Peter Vincent in the same league as someone like Price anyway. He stated, “My part is that of an old ham actor. I mean a dreadful actor.” The name of Peter Vincent was even inspired by Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.
  • To research for the part of Jerry Dandrige, Chris Sarandon looked up vampire lore and information about bats. He decided that Jerry had a lot of fruit bat in his DNA. It was Chris’s idea to have Jerry eating apples throughout the film.
  • Tom Holland came up with this story after wanting to take a vampire story and mix it with a Boy Who Cried Wolf concept. Holland didn’t want the special effects to outshine the story, so he made sure to include a lot of humor and warmth in the characters’ relationships. He also wanted to root it in a sense of reality for modern audiences, so he accomplished that with the suburban setting.
  • Before working on this film, Chris Sarandon gained theater experience and spent long hours in the makeup chair. Because of this, he was able to apply his own vampire makeup, and he worked on his finger extensions while the makeup artists put the appliances on his face.
  • Tom Holland was so impressed with the music created for The Terminator, that he sought out composer Brad Fiedel to compose music for this film.
  • Some of the cast and crew members recall Roddy McDowall videotaped quite frequently for extra behind the scenes footage. None of them saw his footage, and it’s said that the whereabouts of the videotapes are still unknown.
  • This was the first vampire film to spend 1 million dollars of the budget solely on special effects. The total budget for the film was 9.5 million dollars.
  • During the scene where Amy (Amanda Bearse) and Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) arrive at Charley’s (William Ragsdale) room and see it covered with crosses and candles, you might notice Ed looking paler than usual. This was because Stephen Geoffreys was suffering from food poisoning while filming it.
  • During filming, William Ragsdale injured his foot and they had to postpone his action scenes. In order to stay on schedule, Tom Holland shot other scenes until Ragsdale was healed enough to get back to work.
  • The vampire bat in the film started out as model for the library ghost in the film Ghostbusters. The model was rejected from Ghostbusters for being too frightening for a PG movie. Once the FX crew realized the model slightly resembled a bat, they refurbished it for this film.
  • Charlie Sheen originally auditioned for the role of Charley Brewster. However, Tom Holland felt that Sheen’s looks weren’t right for the character. He gave a tougher and more heroic demeanor than what the character of Charley was supposed to have.
  • Chris Sarandon wanted Jerry to have more depth instead of just being some bad guy. He was the one who suggested that Amy resembled his lost love.
  • Amanda Bearse was asked to remove her top for a scene so audiences could see her bare back and shoulders. She was uncomfortable with being topless in front of the crew members, so she covered her breasts with duct tape.
  • Tom Holland wanted to add an extra scare in the film, so he asked Randall William Cook, the film’s visual effects artist to create a shark mouth for Vampire Amy. With no time or money for this mouth piece, Cook agreed to make the piece anyway with the knowledge that it would only be seen for a few seconds onscreen. The shark mouth was not only shown for a significant amount of time, it became the centerpiece on the movie’s poster.
  • Being in the makeup chair for long hours almost drove Chris Sarandon mad. He had to try hypnosis and meditation just to cope with it.
  • For Jonathan Stark’s (Billy) audition, he read the scene where Billy was questioned by the detective. The scene was written as serious, but Stark made the decision to be comical about it. That decision won him the role.
  • When Stephen Geoffreys was approached to be in the film, he assumed that he was being asked to audition for Charley Brewster. When the casting director informed him that she wanted him to read for Evil Ed, Geoffreys was not only shocked, he was upset.
  • Tom Holland was inspired to have Billy creeping up behind Charley and Peter on the stairs after watching Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein.
  • When Peter Vincent had to fight off Bat Jerry, Roddy McDowall accidentally cracked the bat puppet’s skull. Shooting close-ups for the puppet had to be delayed as it took at least 2 days to reassemble the skull.
  • When discussing the character of Evil Ed, Tom Holland told Dread Central, “You could say Evil Ed was the gay kid who was bullied, but I wasn’t thinking that. I was thinking he’s the kid who reads all those EC comic books.” However, the relationship between Jerry and Billy were intentionally written with homoerotic undertones.
  • The original script had a completely different ending. As Amy and Charley watch Peter Vincent’s show, he says, “Tonight’s creepy crawler is ‘Dracula Strikes Again.’ Obviously about vampires. You know what vampires look like, don’t you? They look like this!” Then Amy and Charley look on in horror as Peter transforms into a vampire on tv. After transforming, Peter looks right at the camera and says, “Hello, Charley” and the credits roll.
  • For the final transformation of Evil Ed, Stephen Geoffreys had to endure 18 hours of makeup.
  • The contact lenses used in this film were hard plastic and handmade. They were practically unbearable for the actors who had to wear them. Stephen Geoffreys had severe scratches and was temporarily blinded. Amanda Bearse had to stop shooting because her second pair needed to be sanded down.
  • For Ed’s wolf scene, an actual full-sized wolf puppet was made. However, the puppet wasn’t used, and Stephen Geoffreys was in full wolf makeup for the scene.
  • During Billy’s death scene, Jonathan Stark had to be covered in red and green gore. There was unfortunately a plumbing problem in the building, so Stark was unable to wash the gore off there. On his way home, he had to stop for gas, and he ended up traumatizing the poor attendant there. The attendant helped him, but once Stark left, he noticed the terrified man calling someone. Stark was pretty sure the man was calling the cops.
  • Jonathan Stark was supposed to wear vampire contacts while sneaking up the stairs. However, the contacts blinded Stark and he kept tripping up the stairs, taking the seriousness out of the scene. Tom Holland had Stark remove one of the lenses to Stark could see better.
  • For the scene when Ed attacks Peter, Tom Holland told Stephen Geoffreys to go all out with it. Geoffreys ended up getting a little too physical, and Roddy McDowall was upset about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s