Bloodsuckers: Fright Night
"WELCOME TO FRIGHT NIGHT... FOR REAL!"
The first movie in our Bloodsuckers collection is Tom Holland's 1985 Vampire masterpiece Fright Night. Fright Night is one of our absolute favorite movies and from the moment we started Toxic Coffin we knew we had to do a Fright Night release. This movie holds so much significance in our love for horror and here is the story.
Stephen and I (Lance) went to high school together and we loved horror but it was much more of a casual fascination and less the obsession it is now. We marveled at the VHS cover art for movies like Dead Alive and Evil Dead, but mainly we just went to see every horror movie that came out in the theater at the time like The Ring and Freddy VS Jason. When we went to college at VCU in Richmond, VA that changed. We went to the same college because we loved each other so much we couldn't be a part, that's not exactly true but we did end up going to the same school. When we got to college the whole pantheon of horror really opened up to us thanks to the recommendations of new friends.
One night Stephen and I drove about 30 minutes to our favorite mexican restaurants to get margaronas (a margarita with a Corona in it) this was the pinnacle of importance for our ridiculous college brains. At this dinner Stephen starts telling me about this movie he just watched called Fright Night. Now to know Stephen is to know his overflowing enthusiasm for things that excite him in any way. He's telling me about this movie and I'm getting stoked, like how could there be this movie I've never seen or heard of that sounds so perfect and fun. During this time Netflix was really getting into online streaming and the selection of horror available was incredible. This was before all the best horror got split all over the various streaming sites and licensing for the films was far less competitive. Reeling off the margarona magic we went back to my apartment and watched Fright Night.
There are some movies combined synchronistic circumstances that just change the way you see the world and propel you into a passion that you will have for the rest of your life and this was one of those moments for us. Fright Night was everything we loved about horror movies it's so much fun but there's also so much to the characters and storytelling that elevate this movie to an all-time favorite.
Charley (William Ragsdale) was us, a good kid in love with horror and making out with his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse). What would we do if a Vampire moved in next door? One of the aspects of this movie that sets it apart is the hero's journey that Charley embarques on through the film. In most horror movies the main character is beset upon by some outside force with no real choice in the matter. In Fright Night Charley is given a choice by Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) the vampire to just leave it alone and they can just go on living their respective lives. Charley chooses to fight and risk his life to defeat this evil plaguing the world.
As Charley struggles to find help and combat his vampire neighbor of course no one believes him, not Amy or his best friend Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys). Ed is the consummate weirdo by 80's movie standards but in Fright Night Tom Holland develops him into a truly tragic character seeking acceptance in a world that he feels doesn't want him. There is so much sadness in Evil's character that watching his ultimate demise will break your heart.
With no one else to turn to Charley seeks out the only man he can think of who believes in vampires Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall). Charley's innocence here, that he believes a TV personality and actor is an actual vampire killer is hilarious by today's standards. However, I can remember watching characters on TV and believing they were the mythic heroes they pretended to be. Peter Vincent breaks all illusion and again Charley's hopes for help are dashed and he is alone in this fight.
Eventually the truth of Jerry's vampire status is revealed to Peter Vincent, Amy, and Ed. Jerry takes everything from Charley. The final battle is so much fun and full of incredible practical effects. To really get a complete picture of how much engenuity went into the practical effects in this movie please watch the documentary "You're so cool Brewster!". The story of the making of Fright Night is fascinating.
One of the best aspects of this movie is the score. Brad Fiedel, who composed the Terminator 2 score, provides so much mystery and atmosphere to the movie. Fiedels themes convey the dreamlike quality that much of the film has and it completes Tom Holland's masterpiece of 80's cinema.
In many ways Fright Night approaches cultural themes way ahead of its time. Exploring LGBTQ ideas and struggles in a way that was rare for an 80's film. The ideas of homophobia and sexism were alive and well in many 80's movies and Holland was able to give a portrayal in oblique ways that can hold up to today. For example, when Jerry invites Ed to not be afraid and to join him, where he can be accepted for who he is. And the mysterious relationship between Jerry and his "roommate" Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark) that is never fully explained. These ideas in Fright Night are not jokes they are part of the story, incorporated and accepted.
Our love for this movie cannot be overstated and we felt a tremendous amount of personal pressure to give this movie a fitting tribute. The window framing the design is the portal through which Charley's life changes. Tom Holland was influenced in his writing of Fright Night by "Rear Window" and this element is so important in the story. There might not be a better movie poster than the one for Fright Night. The house with a single window illuminated filled by a shadowy figure, with an amazing collage of misty monster faces rising above, it's perfection. Incorporating the poster art was really important to showcase our love for this movie.
We couldn't be satisfied if we didn't also pay tribute to the incomparable Peter Vincent. We wanted to have a design that represented the movie star hero that Peter Vincent was. This design is what we would hope the Real Peter Vincent would want his fans wearing in the wild!
All these years later Fright Night is our comfort movie. It's the movie we have to watch on Halloween, all the elements and atmosphere makes us feel like Halloween. The misty night, candles, horror movies on TV, and monsters complete the ideal of what Halloween means to us. We are so excited for this collection and we hope you love it as much as we do!