“I believe in vampires.”
“That’s nice. If only there had been more of you, perhaps my ratings would have been higher.”
“In fact, I have one living next door to me. Would you help me kill him?”
FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)
It’s always good to discover that an old friend is doing well. Case in point: Director Tom Holland’s 1985 horror movie masterpiece Fright Night which, for my money, is one of the better vampire films to ever hit celluloid. But I’m biased, as the following paragraph may tip you off to…
I did not stumble so much as I charged full-tilt boogie onto the story about a Midwestern high school student who believes a vampire has moved in next door to him. When Fright Night was released in the late summer of ’85 I had just hit the age where my interest in the horror genre was at an all-time high. I had not yet fully discovered the fairer sex and thus, drunk off of the Hammer and Universal depictions of Bram Stoker’s nefarious Count Dracula, I consumed anything I could land my grubby little mitts on that in any way pertained to the canine challenged phenomenon known as Nosferatu. This was an Indian Summer for this pre-adolescent and I lapped up writer-director Tom Holland’s clever play on Cornell Woolrich’s It Had to Be Murder (later adapted into Alfred Hitchcock’s immortal Rear Window) like a hungry gazelle at an open buffet. In short order, I was a fan.
The original Fright Night spawned a mini-cottage industry of sequels, remakes, comic books and other assorted paraphernalia. At the height of the film’s popularity, ye olde scribbler of words even had a handwritten letter published in the very final issue of the Fright Night NOW comic book, naively offering suggestions for future storylines, unaware that this particular iteration of Holland’s story was about to take a dirt nap of its own. And though the various permutations of the director’s original story took many twists and turns over the years, the original film still maintains a hallowed place of honor in the annals of the horror film genre.
Which brings us up to 2020, the (GULP!) 35th anniversary of Fright Night. Although celebrations recognizing the importance and nigh legendary status of the original film has been somewhat tempered by the worldwide pandemic, a few very nice events have already happened and are still occurring. Perhaps the biggest of these accolades is the upcoming October 30 virtual reunion of many of the principal players of the first film for an exclusive and live table read of Tom Holland’s Fright Night screenplay. And, to illustrate what true mensch’s the Fright Night crew are, the table read will be for a very good cause: Raising needed funds for the Michigan Democratic Party.
Participating in this one-on/one-off table read will be original Fright Night cast members William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon, Jonathan Stark, Amanda Bearse, Stephen Geoffreys, Dorothy Fielding, Chris Hendrie and Art Evans. Immediately following this historic reunion and read-through, the cast will participate in a live Q&A.
Of particular note is the addition of the marvelous actor Dorothy Fielding who, as the mother of our protagonist in Fright Night, singlehandedly stole every scene she was in. Dorothy had dropped out of sight in recent years and it is through the determined efforts of fellow cast member Jonathan Stark that she is returning to her fondly remembered role.
So, wanna make this Halloween season a special one? Those that are interested in joining this legendary film’s cast for the virtual fundraiser can register and donate any amount at this safe and secure site: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/frightnight The table read and Q&A is scheduled for this Friday, October 30, 2020 at 8pm ET. Links will be sent out to donors the day of the event.
On one more small personal note: I’ve been fortunate to – in a very small manner – communicate off and on over the years with Mr. Holland and a few other members of the original Fright Night and they’re some of the nicest folks you would ever want to meet, disproving that old adage once and for all that you should never meet your heroes. This survivor of the summer of ’85 encourages everyone to come out this Friday and reunite with this brilliant cast and contribute to a worthy cause.