Think back to a time before films like
. A more innocent time, when men were men and movies weren’t stuffed full of CGI.
We’re talking about the ‘80s here. See, back in the ‘80s, the biggest taboo wasn’t having short cropped hair when everybody else had mullets, or, you know, NOT liking Madonna. It was the idea that horror and humour could co-exist in the same filmic adventure.
royally put paid to that notion. Two years before The
took its tentative ideas and ran with them,
combined the laughs with the screams to riotous effect. The story of a teen who thinks a vampire has moved in next door has become a bona fide cult classic, and deservedly so.
“I thought the idea of a gonzo horror fan becoming convinced that a vampire lived next door, which of course no one would ever believe him, and it was true. I just thought it was deliciously funny, and what I had always wished would happen to me!” quips director Tom Holland.
Doing It '80s Style
We love the ‘80s! Like
The Lost Boys
is gloriously and defiantly of its time. With its funky disco beats, its dodgy fashion, and its punky parlance, it’s a beautiful ode to the trash of the era that taste forgot.
“I will tell you the genre was dead,” says director Holland. “The last vampire movie before
Love At First Bite
. It was a farcical comedy with George Hamilton. When they do farce, it means the genre is played out. It is exhausted.” Trust the ‘80s to reinvigorate it.
Just look at that diner. No McDonalds chain here….
You can’t buy movie chemistry in a shop. Which makes the tag team of horror movie star Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) and teen horror lover Charley (William Ragsdale) all the more special.
Sharing a relationship that goes from fan and star to terrible, vampire-slaying twosome, this duo are an absolute hoot.
According to Holland, the character of Peter Vincent was key to the movie. “I thought of the Roddy McDowall character Peter Vincent,” he recalls. “And the minute I had that the kid went to the
horror host, I had a story! And it just sort of jumped in my head finally after thinking about it for a year, like the entire script was there.”
The late McDowall was, according to Ragsdale, a fantastic co-star to have. “He was really great! And really generous,” he enthuses. “I had grown up on the
Planet Of The Apes
stuff and I had grown up on
and thought he was a real icon for me. And for him to be as available and generous, and fun as he was, was great.
“He said to me once, [
in Roddy’s voice
] ‘I like you so much. I don’t know why!’ He was wonderful, and his comical timing was great.”
What’s a monster movie without its monsters? Just a plain old movie of course. Which
certainly ain’t. Saving its big budget effects for the last quarter,
comes barrelling at us with some truly spectacular beasts.
Of them all, the impressive werewolf death scene, in which actor Stephen Geoffreys had to don all manner of prosthetics, is a particular highlight.
“It’s one thing when you’re there on the set making it,” notes Stephen Geoffreys, “and then when I saw it for the first time put together with the sound, it just – I could not believe how incredible it looked.
“And that scene, with the stake, I guess that was shot in post production after everybody had left. It was agonizing. It was almost inhuman the stuff that they put on me. But ya know, it turned out great, so it was worth it.”
Ragsdale likes that scene for its pathos. “Usually that’s the heroic moment,” he notes, “when you kill the beast. And in that moment, there’s so much sympathy.”
Your Disco Needs You
There’s nothing that can’t be said without music, and
’s standout disco moment is here to prove it. Updating vampire seductions, vamp fiend Jerry uses some funky ‘80s beats and the moody lighting to his advantage, enigmatically bringing Charley’s girlfriend Amy into his fold.
“Vampire movies have to keep rewriting the rules,” notes
Fright Night 2
helmer Tommy Lee Wallace, “otherwise we’re still stuck back in what Bram Stoker invented for us.”
And who could forget the awesome segment when Amy spins in Jerry’s arms, glances at the mirror and watches enraptured at her own reflection twirling alone in the disco lights? “It’s a seduction,” notes actress Amanda Bearse, “it was the beginning of the seduction.” Pure magic.
Chris Sarandon’s villainous vampire neighbour is no cardboard villain. A suave, macho presence (who’s also bloody scary in places), his is the regal kind of fanger who likes to think before he bites. Sarandon also proved pivotal in fleshing out his flesh-chomping fiend.
“Chris wanted to deepen the character,” director Holland reveals. “Chris did not want just a black and white, 'the vampire is bad’. It was Chris’s idea, I know he was asking for shades in the character.
“I put [
] the portrait, Amy’s portrait – that was Chris’ idea. And once you had that Amy looked like a lover from the past - perhaps a lover from the past - then you’re doing the Bram Stoker Mina.”
Unlike other actors who are embarrassed by their dabblings with the world of cheesy horror, Sarandon still looks back fondly.
“I remember very vividly,” he says of first receiving the script. “I was living in New York and I got the script.
"My agent said that someone was interested in the possibility of my doing the movie, and I said to myself, ‘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.’
“Not a first time screen-writer, but first time director. And I sat down and read the script, and I remember very vividly sitting at my desk, looked over at my then wife and said, ‘This is amazing. I don’t know. I have to meet this guy.’” The rest is history.
“It was awesome. The writing was incredible. Sometimes you read a script… but this one, I just got this really awesome feeling about it,” says Stephen Geoffreys. “I read it and thought I’ve got to do this. I called my agent and said ‘I would love to audition for the part of Charley Brewster!’”
Ah how differently things could have turned out. Instead, Geoffreys bagged the iconic role of Evil Ed. Everybody loves the comedy sidekick, and Ed is no different. His squeaky laugh, his comic one-liners… And the fact that pretty sharpish he turns into a massive threat…
“He took chances,” Holland says of Geoffreys. “He was big. He scared the hell out of me! And it worked! The character choices he made, they were very, very great character choices. He was the one that was the farthest out. Everybody was wonderful, but special kudos to Stephen.”
You can read a massive reunion interview with the cast of Fright Night and Fright Night 2
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