Highlights from the midnight screening
“Welcome to Fright Night…for real.”
With that, a video greeting from Jerry Dandrige himself – actor Chris Sarandon – prepped fans for a midnight screening at the NuArt in Los Angeles of Tom Holland’s “vampire next door” horror-comedy Fright Night. Sarandon, due to an ailing 92-year-old mother, could not attend the event but fans of the ’85 horror movie were in for a treat as Holland, William Ragsdale, Stephen Geoffreys, Jonathan Stark, Chris Hendrie, editor Kent Beyda and FX artist Randall William Cook sat in to watch a handsome print play out before a sold-out audience.
It was the first time I had seen the film on the big screen since my father, and grandmother (!), took me to see it on August 2, 1985. I was nine, to give you some perspective, and on our drive to the theater, my father stopped in the middle of town (about a mile from my house) and told me, “Look, this film is going to be scary – if you want out, now’s your chance.” And by “if you want out,” he actually meant, get out of the car, at that very spot, and walk back home. He was just as die hard a horror fan then as I am today and didn’t want to miss the show time. I wasn’t going to fault him for that. My father’s offering this grim warning only spurred my curiosity on and I committed to seeing Mr. Holland’s opus that paid a modern nod to the Universal and Hammer Films I had, until that time, grew up on.
Fright Night, to this day, remains my favorite horror films of all time. And you could say the nostalgia of seeing the movie opening night plays a big part in my (undying) adoration of it. Needless to say, the NuArt screening plopped me back into ’85 with familiar friends Charley Brewster, Peter Vincent, Evil Ed Thompson, Dandrige, Amy and Billy Cole. Brad Fiedel’s score still gives me goosebumps (even though it plays regularly on my iPod). The only difference this time is that I actually had the actors who brought those characters to life sitting directly behind me, save for the late Roddy McDowall.
I certainly wasn’t alone in my fandom; the packed house stuck through the midnight screening until well past 3a.m. for the cast and crew Q&A moderated by Tim Sullivan and sponsored by the fellas at IconsofFright.com.
Here are some anecdotes from the discussion. For a complete photo gallery from the event, click on the image below or right here!
William Ragsdale on working with Roddy McDowall: “There was no sense of Hi, you’re going to be working with me, Roddy McDowall. From the very beginning it was chummy and friendly, with a video camera on his shoulder shooting family movies the whole time while we [were shooting]. He was great and wonderful, very accessible. He was a good friend.”
Tom Holland on Roddy McDowall: “Roddy was a walking aural history of Hollywood. I had the extraordinary experience the last day MGM [studios] was in existence, Roddy walked me through the backlot – the now Sony studios – and took me through the underground passageways of where they still store the nitrate film and utility pipes. [He] described to me what movies happened on what sets, what affairs happened in what dressing rooms. He told me stories about the silent stars, he went to see the silent stars, he was visiting Mary Astor to the end. He had a love of the business and carried the decades inside of him. He was a child star at eight-years-old and he survived it somehow. My one regret is he would not write his autobiography, he wouldn’t because he knew where the bodies were buried. That he just couldn’t betray the confidences. He was a wonderful, sweet man who cared about other people in the business and gave a great deal of time. He also was a collector. The vampire hunting kit [in the movie], he saved that and that’s at Boston University. In a lot of ways, Roddy was the ultimate fan.”
Randall William Cook on the “freebie”: “Tom came to me one day and said, Can you make a shark mouth on Amy? I said, Well, it’s not in the budget. And he said, Well, can you do it? I was a young kid, I didn’t give a damn, I was going to be doing something I wasn’t contracted to do and I wasn’t going to charge them, so I said sure. [The prosthetic] couldn’t be on for long because it couldn’t be very good, we were going to [shoot it] on Monday, it was Thursday now. [Tom said] it was only going to be a few frames. So I threw something together and worked all weekend for nothing. Not because I’m a good guy – I am [laughs] – because this is something you get excited about. We got this thing done and it was just passable. The forms were good, but the details were crap. But it wasn’t in a couple of frames! It’s on there for three-quarters of the movie. They put it on the f**kin’ poster. I just cringe when I see it. But, all in all we had fun.”
William Ragsdale on rumors of him injuring his ankle on set: “Not true, I broke my foot. Christmas Eve. We had shot all of the exterior stuff and were wrapping up for the day on Christmas Eve and Tom thought I could run down the stairs a little faster so he said, Let’s try this one more time and just really fly down the stairs. So I did and I fell. My ankle was swelling up a little bit, I got up on it and I thought I sprained my ankle. The sound guy came over and said, No, no…it’s a break. He played it back and you can hear it on the soundtrack snapping. You can tell in a lot of the interior scenes with my mom when I’m running out of the bedroom, I fall out of frame, that’s what that is.”
William Ragsdale on Fright Night Part 2: “We did it. [laughs] It was a couple of years later and Roddy and I were the only people who came back for that. It was interesting, but it wasn’t the original, it didn’t have quite the rapport of the actors at all. You can feel we were doing something different. It’s okay in its way, but it doesn’t stand up to the original. It was fun, and it was nice being offered a job as opposed to having to try and get one.”
Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor