Quantcast FRIGHT NIGHT Reunion Panel From Dallas, TX FEAR FEST 2 moderated by ICONS Robg.


On March 8th, 2008, writer/director Tom Holland, Chris Sarandon (Jerry Dandrige), William Ragsdale (Charley Brewster), Jonathan Stark (Billy Cole), Amanda Bearse (Amy Peterson), Stephen Geoffreys ("Evil" Ed Thompson), Julie Carmen (Regine Dandrige) and writer/director Tommy Lee Wallace were all brought together for the first ever FRIGHT NIGHT reunion in Dallas, Texas for FEAR FEST 2. ICONS own Robg moderated the historic event, and now with the kind permission of John Gray, Pit Of Horror and the Dread Central crew, we present to you the complete transcription of the panel! (With video clips!) Read on FRIGHT fans! - By Robg. - 4/08

Robg.: First and foremost, why don’t we start with Mister Holland. Tom, obviously you started out as an actor and later became a screenwriter. You wrote THE BEAST WITHIN, PSYCHO 2, CLASS OF 1984, a couple of my favorites. Then you made the segue way into directing and FRIGHT NIGHT was your first directorial film. What was it about this story that made it the first film you wanted to direct?

Tom Holland: PSYCHO 2 was an enormous sleeper hit. And this was the first film where I had sufficient credibility in Hollywood to be able to direct it. And I have also – this is truth now, so I’ll try to be tactful. I had a film after PSYCHO 2 and before FRIGHT NIGHT called SCREAM FOR HELP, which… I thought was so badly directed that (directing FRIGHT NIGHT) was self defense. (Audience laughs) In self defense, I wanted to protect the material, and that’s why I started directing with FRIGHT NIGHT, because the previous script that I had written had turned out so badly. So, that’s the story.

Robg.: What was it that made you decide on a vampire tale. Because I assume you’re a big fan of vampire films, and for a lot of us here, FRIGHT NIGHT is one of our favorite vampire films, so what was it that you decided on this for the story?

Tom Holland: I had the idea of a horror fan who loved the Friday Night Frights like I did when I was growing up. They used to have on the independent channel, whatever town you were in, they’d run the terrible sci-fi, horror movies on Friday night. And you’d fight with your parents and everything else, and you’d stay up ‘til 11 o’clock and you’d watch it. And that was how my generation grew up. And FRIGHT NIGHT is my very, very affectionate memory of that.
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! (Audience laughs) I carried the idea around for a year and I could never work out the story. And then, and I don’t know how, I thought of the Roddy McDowell character Peter Vincent! And the minute I had that the kid went to the Fright Night 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. And I wrote it in 2 or 3 weeks. I’d been thinking about it for a year. I had the idea forever, but it Peter Vincent that gave me the key to the story.

Robg.: Can we go down the line and can each person explain how FRIGHT NIGHT came about for you, and your initial reactions to the script & how you became involved?

Chris Sarandon: Um, the script was sent to me, I remember very vividly. 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.” And so, I came out to LA. And I met with Tom (Holland) and our producer. And we just hit it off, and that was it.
Tom Holland: He took a chance. He took a big, big chance.

Chris Sarandon: On a very, very fabulous script and on a very talented guy, and by the way, Tom essentially sat there and described the entire movie to me in our first meeting. He said, “Ok, it’s going to open with this shot, and then this is going to happen.” He had the whole thing mapped out in his head. I thought, wow, I don’t have to worry about this guy! Let’s go to work.
William Ragsdale: I was working I think in a hardware store in San Francisco. (Audience chuckles) Not the same situation! (Audience laughs) My imaginary agent called and said “we have this thing.” (Laughs) Kidding. I had just gotten out of acting school in San Francisco and I had met a woman who was a casting director. Long story, she had a friend that was an agent in San Francisco and they were casting the movie MASK. And she said, “Do you know any kids that might be right for this role of Rusty in MASK?” So, she said, “I have this guy who might be a possibility.”
So, I came down and I met with her and Peter Bogdanovich and that didn’t work out. But, a few months later, Jackie Burch tells me “There’s this movie I’m casting. You might be really right for it.” So, I had this 1976 Toyota Celica and I drove that through the San Joanquin valley dessert for 4 or 5 trips down for auditioning. And in the last one, Stephen was there, Amanda was there and that’s when it happened. I had read the script and at the time I had been doing Shakespeare and Greek drama, so I read this thing and thought, “Well, God, this looks like a lot of fun. There’s no… iambic pentameter, there’s no rhymes. Ya know? (Audience laughs) Where’s the catharsis? Where’s the tragedy? (Laughs)

I ended up getting a call on Halloween that they had decided to use me, and I was delighted and about a week - 10 days later, I was on THE THREE STOOGES stage shooting FRIGHT NIGHT.

Jonathan Stark: Yeah, I remember when they sent me the script, I thought I should give this director a chance! (Audience laughs) No, it was my first thing, my first film and I was “Ok, ok. I knew he had to be a big guy, so I kind of had that covered.” And I actually put pads in my shoes, and put like 5 shirts on to look as big as I could. Back when I was actually thinner at the time. And I go in there and I read this scene where Billy (Cole) has to throw off the detective, and I thought,
“Gee, you know, if I was trying to throw off a detective, I wouldn’t be evil. I’d be as funny as I could be.” So, I threw this stuff in and Tom was thrilled. After that, he said “Hey thanks, you’re great.” So, 6 months go by, I don’t hear a thing and every day I’m calling the casting director, “Hey Jackie, do you really think they want me?” (Audience laughs) “They really want you!” “But.. nobody’s called me!” But he was true to his word and he used me and God, I think it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever been involved in, and that’s my story.
Amanda Bearse: I was doing a movie with Stephen (Geoffreys) where we were boyfriend and girlfriend. It was originally called WENDELL and then it became something called FATERNITY VACATION. (Audience cheers) Oh, I kept my cloths on, OK? Every other chick in the movie? Whatever. Um, I went through the audition process, as did a lot of other actresses and Jackie Burch was lovely. I had not been in the business very long. I had not been in Los Angeles for very long, this was a very new experience for me.
This was a major motion picture. This was Columbia Pictures and this was a huge, big deal. And yeah, she was very much my champion and that was the process as it often is. You go in to audition and you get called back and called back and low and behold, I got the film. It wasn’t until right at the end, or maybe even after, (Stephen) and I realized “Oh, we’re going to see each other next week on this other thing!” So, that was kind of cool too, to have a familiar face there, and off we went.

Robg.: Stephen, it seems she told your story for you! But what were your initial reactions to the script?

Stephen Geoffreys: I actually met Jackie Burch, the casting director by mistake in New York months before this movie was cast and she remembered me – my agent sent me for an audition for WEIRD SCIENCE. And Anthony Michael Hall was with the same agent that I was with, and she sent me by mistake. And Jackie looked at me when I walked into the office and said, “You’re not Anthony Michael Hall!” and I’m like “No!” (Audience laughs)
But anyway, I sat down and I talked to Jackie for a half hour and she remembered me from that interview and called my agent, and my agent sent me the script while I was with Amanda in Palm Springs doing FATERNITY VACATION, and I read it. It was awesome. The writing was incredible. Sometimes you read a script… but this one, I just got this really awesome feeling about it. 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!”
“No, Steve, you’re wanted for the part of Evil Ed.” And I went, “Are you kidding me? Why? I couldn’t…” (Audience laughs) What do they see in me that they think I should be this… well anyway, it worked out. It was awesome and I had a great time. And it’s great to be here with everybody again.
Robg.: For Julie (Carmen) and Tommy (Lee Wallace), how’d you both get involved with FRIGHT NIGHT 2? Tommy, how familiar were you with the first movie when you did the second? And did you go back and look at it?

Tommy Lee Wallace
: Um, I was a fan of the first movie, enjoyed it and laughed a lot. But a little bit of time had gone by. It seems like back then, sequelitis hadn’t quite swept the movie nation.

Robg.: I think the first one was 1985 and the second one was 1988?

Tommy Lee Wallace: Something like that. A little bit of time had gone by, and when the opportunity came up, I thought “Cool. That sounds like a great blast.” So, my friends over at Vista Pictures – it was kind of mutual, about the time I was thinking about calling them, they called me and I thought “Alright.” I went to see Tom (Holland). I wanted to get his blessing. And kind of get the torch properly passed. I think the only advice you gave me, Tom was something like, “Just don’t get too serious about it. Make sure it’s fun. It’s got to be scary, but it’s got to be fun too.” I took that seriously. And that was it.

Robg.: And Julie, your character (Regine Dandridge) is technically the sister of Chris’s character (Jerry Dandridge) from the first film. How’d you prepare for that and what’d you think when you first got approached about FRIGHT NIGHT 2?

Julie Carmen: And this is the first time I’m meeting Chris!

Chris Sarandon: Actually I came to the set once.

Julie Carmen: Oh, ok.

Amanda Bearse: (To Chris) Obviously, you made an impression.

(Huge audience laughs)

Robg.: Wow.

Julie Carmen: I… had never done a horror film. I had probably never seen a horror film. Things were coming in 2’s. I think this film was sent to me because I had just worked for the man who owned Vista. I did a movie with Raul Julia and Armand Assante called THE PENITENT, which was done in New Mexico and then went off to do THE MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR also in the area. All of a sudden a vampire film showed up, and not having any horror in my background, I looked at it as a whole new challenge. And we were very blessed to have a brilliant, brilliant costume designer Joseph Porro and a choreographer Russell Clark, and I have to say just in honor to Russell, he choreographed the vampire dance and he passed away in 2002, so it was a great loss. He was an extraordinary choreographer.

Tommy Lee Wallace: I do want to say that the casting of Julie had everything to do with Chris’s performance in the first one. Chris really set the bar pretty high for gorgeous vampires, ya know? (Audience applauds) And so, we wanted to hold on to that tradition as we went along. The original (Dandridge) was dead of course as he got killed right and proper by Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent.

Robg.: Oh it was a sequel, you could’ve brought him back somehow!

Tommy Lee Wallace: (Laughs) Well… To finish that thought off, we wanted to make sure that we kept that high standard and in came beautiful Julie.

Audience Member: Peter Vincent, was he a tribute to Peter Cushing?

Tom Holland: And Vincent Price. Yeah. What I paid homage to (with Peter Vincent) was AIP and HAMMER. And Peter Vincent was Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. That’s what I was doing exactly.

Audience Member: And what was it like working with Roddy McDowell?

Tom Holland: Oh boy. Yeah, everybody will… (Pause) I don’t really have anything bad to say about Roddy. Roddy was a walking oral history of Hollywood. He had started out as a child actor at 20th. He did HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY for John Ford. He was a little boy in that 8 years old. He may have received an Academy Award Nomination for that?

Chris Sarandon: Yeah.

Tom Holland: So, Roddy literally grew up in the business, and it’s terribly difficult to transition from a child actor into an adult and keep your career going. And that had been the biggest problem in Roddy’s life, and solving that was a huge accomplishment for him. Roddy was everybody’s friend. He was friends with people who could help him, and he was friends with people who could do nothing for him. He was friends with the silent movie stars that were still living in at the Motion Picture Home, as well as people like Elizabeth Taylor. He had the gift of friendship. And he was famous for having a Friday night dinners at his house, on Wednesday and Friday night’s actually. I attended a few. I met Vincent Price at Roddy’s house. Ok?

(Audience wows)

Tom Holland: Yeah, I mean, because FRIGHT NIGHT is really the expression of the ultimate fan, which is me! I think that that is one of the reasons that it grows in people’s estimation because it touches the fan and that was me, and I felt that way about Roddy, and Roddy knew all the stories. When 20th Century Fox was closing down and being taken over by Sony, he walked me through MGM, through the old MGM, and he would say on this stage, this movie was made, and this happened, and so and so had an elicit affair in that dressing room over there. (Audience laughs) He would take me through the underground where they ran all the electrical cable and the gas lines, that’s also where they stored the nitrate film. It was still there. Hollywood has no history. Modern Hollywood and probably even Hollywood forever. It is really of “the now” and about the grosses of “the now”. Roddy kept the flame burning for the talented people who had come and gone. He still loved the people who were the actors and actresses who were the stars of the silence. And I never met anyone quite like him. He got work by his friendships, but he also loved the business. I met Phillip Dunn there and some other people that some of you younger people here wouldn’t know or probably care – Walter Matthau and his wife, Lee Remick as she was dying of brain cancer. To go to Roddy’s house was to get a vision of the business in terms of generations, especially with the actors. Along with that was a mean, waspish tongue that would cut you to ribbons in a couple of sentences too! (Audience laughs) He sort of took an eternal interest and he sort of helped me, because this was my first film. And he made it a delight for me and he protected me. So, he was a wonderful guy.

(Huge audience applause)

Robg.: For William, since we’re talking about Roddy, (and we had just watched a screening of the movie last night) I loved all of your interactions with Roddy. You have so many great scenes together. What do you remember about the shoot and working with Roddy McDowell?

William Ragsdale: Well, 2 things about what Tom said. I went to a few dinners over there too, and one time I sat next to Lauren Bacall at one of them. I was nervously asking, “Can you pass the potatoes, please?” (Audience laughs) But the greatest part of Roddy’s house, for me was his toilet! Because you go into the toilet by the front door and as you’re peeing (if you’re a male), there’s Laurel & Hardy’s bowlers that are up in front of you on the wall. Also, Buster Keaton’s bow-tie and stuff like that. It just… takes concentration to pee in that environment! (Laughs)

Tom Holland: And one autograph after another of everybody who had ever been anybody.

Chris Sarandon: Every great movie star in Hollywood history. It was really, really awesome.

William Ragsdale: But he was really great! And really generous. And I had grown up on THE PLANET OF THE APES stuff and I had grown up on NIGHT GALLERY 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. His tongue was, as Tom said was pretty amazing, and he said to me once, (in Roddy’s voice) “I like you so much. I don’t know why!” (Audience laughs) He was great. He was wonderful, and his comical timing was great. Someone had told me that he had done those APES movies and he was really covered up. His face was gone, except for his eyes, and so he sort of learned to communicate with his eyes, and learned the technicality exactly.

Audience Member: Was there every any discussion of having Amy (Amanda Bearse) or Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) in the sequel, FRIGHT NIGHT 2? Because you guys survived.

Amanda Bearse: Ok, from Roddy and the parties… to the sequel! (Laughs) I recall, and maybe somebody can help me out here, maybe I just made this up. I thought there was one script that was read. And that was thrown out. Maybe I made it up, I thought I was there? A reading of a sequel script and I was in it. Anybody?

Tommy Lee Wallace: That would have pre-dated my arrival. When I got there, I was certainly a fan of the original, and most certainly a fan of these two guys, so my expectation was that there might be some continuity, but somebody somewhere had made a decision, and you’d have to go back to Vista Pictures and the executive staff to get answers on that.

Amanda Bearse: Well, I mean, these things happen. It’s just kind of the nature of the beast. And I really, maybe I should’ve been more personally offended, but I was just glad that there was a sequel and ya know, I did have another little job that lasted a while and I was grateful for that! (MARRIED WITH CHILDREN)

(Audience laughs and applauds)

Amanda Bearse: Thank you. Thank you very much. But… it’s the story that dictates, and the thing about the script for me, there was such an obvious learningness. Tom knew this lore, and that was just rich all through out that first script. So, I just assumed it was the plot, the story, what needed to happen and it happened. (For the sequel)

Audience Member: This is slightly off topic, not about FRIGHT NIGHT but…

Jonathan Stark: Can you speak up, sir?

Amanda Bearse: Sing out, Louise!

(Audience laughs)

Audience Member: Not pertaining the FRIGHT NIGHT, but this is for Amanda? Do you still keep in contact with the Bundy’s?

Amanda Bearse: Who?

(Audience laughs)

Amanda Bearse: They’re around somewhere. No, yeah, we see each other here and there. But it hasn’t been a situation like this, which is really, truly remarkable about not only this evening, but this weekend, to have us all gathered in the same place and it’s a gift. It’s great.

(Audience applauds)

Audience Member: I’m sure you all knew it was a great film from the script, but was there any point where it first hit you that “Wow, this is even bigger then I expected it to be?”

Chris Sarandon: The first time I saw the movie with an audience in a theater in New York City. I was sitting in the back of the audience, and they went crazy. And I thought “Ohhh, hang on here. What’s going on?” Yeah, this was a real audience picture. And that was what sort of cemented it for me.

Tom Holland: I remember Chris telling me a story about a very famous boxer stopping him… tell the story if you remember.

Chris Sarandon: Sugar Ray Leonard. Yeah. I was walking out of the Beverly Hilton, some hotel someplace and uh, literally I’m walking across the driveway to get my car and somebody grabs me. And I go “What? What?” And there’s this great looking African American guy standing there and he says, (in Sugar Ray voice) “Man? I looove that movie! (Audience laughs) FRIGHT NIGHT! FRIGHT NIGHT!” And I thought, “Well? We’ve arrived.” (Audience laughs) Sugar Ray Leonard.
Jonathan Stark: I didn’t go to the screening because I was terrified that I sucked! (Audience laughs) So, I went to New York City to hang out with my friends, and they said you got to go see it! So, I go OK. They take me down to Times Square to see it. Now, back in the 80’s, Times Square was a lot different. But to sit in the theater, and hear “Oh my God, Billy Cole! Look out!” The entire time! (Audience laughs) It was the wonderful screening experience. I was so glad I was actually there instead of watching it in Hollywood. To hear those people scream and warn every other actor on the screen. (Audience laughs) It was great.

Robg.: And for Jonathan – I’ve been dying to know, and maybe you or Tom can answer this question…but what exactly is Billy Cole? Is he a vampire? What’s his story there?

Jonathan Stark: You know, I have no idea! (Audience laughs) I’ll defer to Tom on this one, he told me today I was a modern day Renfield, but Renfield didn’t melt. (Audience laughs) He was human. So, I’m going to let Tom talk about this one.

Tom Holland: Renfield. Renfield. Well, that’s who Billy Cole was. I thought he was half-human and half-vampire. But he hadn’t crossed over yet. So he could be Jerry Dandridge’s alter ego/helper. He could exist during the day and in daylight. That he had been bitten, but enough blood hadn’t transferred.
William Ragsdale: Someone asked me today “Is there anything about the movie that you realize now?” And I said that the people that watch it over and over again, the fans, they see things that we don’t see or that we didn’t see. And they make all sorts of connections and analogies and stuff. And one of the reviews made a connection between Jerry and Billy having this homoerotic relationship, and I remember reading the review going “it’s a vampire movie, what are they seeing in this thing?”
Jonathan Stark: Well, Tom – before we shot the thing, we had a week or two of rehearsal. I don’t really do movies anymore, so I don’t know how much of that is around, but I’m guessing not a lot. Chris and I really worked on the characters a lot. And I remember one scene where I’m washing his hand when he got stabbed with the pencil. Tom’s like, “Kneel down in front of him.” “Huh?” (Audience laughs) “Why?” “I just want you to kneel down in front of him.” (Audience laughs) “Ok.” So, when I watch the thing, I’m like… “Oh my God!” (Huge laughs from audience)
Tommy Lee Wallace: Vampire movies have to keep rewriting the rules, otherwise we’re still stuck back in what Bram Stoker invented for us. So, the idea that this guy could hang out in the daytime, I think everybody wants that sort of thing. I did a movie, a sequel to John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES and you want to keep inventing stuff, like blood transfusions, the cause of the blood transfusion is that they could stay out for a little while during the day time, so you could shoot a couple of scenes and surprise people. I love the fact that (Billy Cole) could hang out in the daytime. It’s sort of the adept I think of Chris Sarandon’s character.
Robg.: For Amanda and Chris, there’s a couple of sequences between the two of you, for example the dance scene in the club. But then also later when you bite her and turn her over, there’s a lot of subtleties in your performance, almost being hesitant about hurting her. I was just wondering how much preparation you both and for those 2 scenes considering how well they both played out?
Amanda Bearse: That was more in the moment as I recall. We did have the luxury of this rehearsal time, it was quite magnificent. We were on these bare sound stages in the studio, which has a lot of history which Roddy shared with us, where we ended up coming back to shoot the interiors of the film. Um, but we were there with just a table and chairs and it was just really raw bones and great stuff. But there’s some moments that just play out in the moment. They have very much to do with how the shot is set up and their intimacy. Those were more as I recall in the moment… oh, the director remembers…
Tom Holland: That is Chris Sarandon. Chris wanted to deepen the character. 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. But I put the portrait, Amy’s portrait – that was Chris’s 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. She was Mina, ten generations now. So, I put the portrait in that Charley discovers when he brings the policeman in to look at the house, and you know that Amy looks like someone he was in love with, God only knows how long ago.
And then I put the portrait again up in the house in the bedroom when he seduces her. And that gave him a sadness to play, and you felt the same kind of emotion come through when he offered his hand to “Evil” Ed. And he said, “You’re different.” Ya know. But “come with me and you’ll never be, nobody will ever mock you again, or beat you up or make you cry.” And that was following that line through. That came out of Chris’s desire to have the character, the vampire be deeper then the one I wrote.
Chris Sarandon: Also, it seems to me that, going along with what Tom was saying and also Amanda, was we were all looking for what was deeply human about all of these people. That we weren’t just after scaring the hell out of people, we were also after making them feel for these characters so that when something did happen to them, the audience is involved in some way.
That you have a stake, pardon the expression, in the outcome. And those were the things we did in rehearsal, one of the things that Tom insisted that we did for instance is that we all do very detailed biographies of our individual characters and we sat around and discussed them, and we talked about the ramifications of those decisions that we made for ourselves in terms of the inner relationships of the characters.
Tommy Lee Wallace: I want to put a footnote on that, but when Tom mentioned “Come with me”, it made me think of Brad Fiedel’s magnificent score, which we amplified in PART TWO, but wow. What a fine dimension he added to the whole thing.

Julie Carmen: Another thing we were influenced by, I don’t know what year it came out, but LESTAT, Anne Rice’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (the novel) came out right before. But I was really blessed to be able to read that and what hit me was the 2000 year old nature of the character I was being asked to play. And what do you do to keep the spark alive and basically entertain yourself through this extended life cycle by enjoying the little, tiny subtleties of interacting with people and one of the things I really appreciated in Tommy’s script, within a 2000 year cycle, there aren’t the same prejudices that we may have just in an 80 year old cycle that we may have. There was an opening up, what our society in terms of fear of homosexuality or fear of different races, there was just an opening up and I think Regine was very open to the Belle character who was more transgender/African American and I just appreciated that opening up.

Audience Member: Tom, I just always wanted to find out, that whole sequence we were talking about earlier, about Jerry and Amy – the dance. What was brilliant to me, here she was at 15, 16 and she seemed to grow up over the course of the entire dance.

Amanda Bearse: It’s a seduction, it was the beginning of the seduction.

Tom Holland: We changed hair style.

Amanda Bearse: And the music shifts.

Tom Holland: And we also changed the blouse.

Audience Member: Well, for a first time director, it was so brilliant.

Tom Holland: Well, thank you, but I had a lot of help. In order to show her awakening sexually to him, as they dance I sexualized her with a change in hair style and a change in blouse. It goes from a cotton blouse to a clinging silk blouse.

William Ragsdale
: She starts controlling the relationship there a little bit too. She says yes and no at different spots that he’s just kind of available for her.

Tom Holland
: These were all things that we discovered through the rehearsal process. I don’t know if – it was such an extraordinary opportunity. I don’t know if you can ever get anything like that again. How many days did we have, did we have a week?

Amanda Bearse: Maybe 2?

William Ragsdale: Part of the equation was that Tom was an actor for years and years before that, so in terms of the process, he respected that process of it.

Audience Member: It doesn’t seem very difficult to get you guys all together right now. How about another movie?

Tom Holland: That’d be great.

Tommy Lee Wallace: Talk to the boss.

Tom Holland: Once again, we care, but Hollywood doesn’t. It’s like trying to get them to release a box set, or getting the information to get them to do a behind the scenes. I have a luncheon later this month with a gentleman who is the head of Sony Screengems to discuss uh, a sequel and/or a remake of FRIGHT NIGHT. Now, they never called me. This is how it works. They’ve done 3 scripts trying to find a way to remake it, and apparently one script has been worse then the other. And so finally after a year and a half and 3 scripts, I finally have a luncheon meeting. But nobody would’ve thought to give me a ring before they started the 3 scripts!

Audience Member: Have you thought about (releasing a special edition) it in Europe?

Tom Holland: They own the rights though. Columbia, now Sony owns the rights.

William Ragsdale: And Tommy (Lee Wallace) called me about 2 or 3 years ago. I live in New Orleans part of the year, and he called me and said “Ya know, an interest in FRIGHT NIGHT has come up, but what’s the problem, you keep saying no to scripts.” And I said, “I’ve never seen a script! To any sequel.” But the rumor was that I had been turning stuff down for years and years, but I’ve never seen anything. So, it’s that sort of dysfunctional line of communication that informs everything.

Tom Holland: What they tried to do was throw the story out, change the script and set it in an amusement park. That is what the last writer told me, and I said, “That sounds a lot like Tobe Hooper’s FUNHOUSE from 1982 produced by Mark Lester” which somebody finally told the powers that be that that’s what it was. (Audience laughs) Then they decided they better call me in for a lunch, so we’ll see.

Jonathan Stark: If there’s a sequel, just a thought, maybe these two are married now (points to William and Amanda), have a family and move in next door to the old vampires home. (Audience laughs)

William Ragsdale: You’re a producer, he’s a director. We’re available!

Julie Carmen: I have a question, how many of you here have seen FRIGHT NIGHT 2 on the big screen? Raise your hands. 3, 4, 7, 8 people. Ok, how many have seen it on TV? Ok most of you. Do you know the history of why none of you saw it in theaters? I’ll tell you the history. We made it and it was being released by New Century Vista, and the opening per screen average was between 6 and 7000 average, which was terrific in those days, and that weekend, the head of the distribution company, Jose Menendez was assassinated by his sons. (The Menendez brothers) So, the whole distribution company went into a tale spin and their product kind of floated. And they pulled everything and tried to regroup from the inside. And then when someone figured out they had a good film on their hands, they sold it to whatever it was, Cinemax or HBO. Then it really found it’s life in video. I was just curious how many people had seen it on the big screen because it had a very short release and that’s why.

Audience Member: Are we ever going to see a special edition of FRIGHT NIGHT on DVD?

Tom Holland: I will plead the case. I will plead the case at the end of this month. Once again, my experience is they pull out the numbers, and they tell me how much it would cost to produce and how much money they could make and…

Audience Member: They put all that other crap out! (Audience laughs)

Tom Holland: Why did they spend 3 scripts and 3 writers and a year and a half trying to do FUNHOUSE. (Audience laughs) Just call Tobe Hooper up and Tobe can remake it!

Jonathan Stark: I was talking to Tom and I reminded him that Roddy had 50 hours, maybe a little less? This was 1984, he had his video camera, and he shot all this behind the scenes stuff. He was goofing around with the actors. I mean, I’m sure it’s somewhere! But… I’m going to try to track it down if I can and see.

(Huge audience applause)

Robg.: Tom, was there ever anything deleted from the film or is it pretty much what you set out to make? Any deleted scenes?

Tom Holland: No, that film is what I set out to make. That is scene by scene, word by word. It was an amazing experience and nobody messed with me! And I thought that was how it was going to be from now on. (Audience laughs) Little did I know.

A quick story and for those who may have a memory, FRIGHT NIGHT was the small film at Columbia that year. They were focused on what they were sure was going to be their big hit. It was called PERFECT. It starred John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis. (Audience laughs) Ok? And that was where the money and interest was, and they were so fixated on that, they left me alone. And… the big sleeper hit of that year for Columbia was FRIGHT NIGHT. Nobody knows anything. (Audience laughs)

Robg.: Question for Stephen Geoffreys. One of the most significant scenes in the movie is the death of “Evil” Ed. You turn into the wolf and Peter Vincent stabs you. But the thing that’s so interesting about that is that in most horror films, death scenes happen so quickly, and that one is very prolonged and painful. It’s a horrible death. Even Roddy’s reactions to your last breath, it’s something that stands out in this movie more so than in most other horror films. Can you tell us what you remember about your death scene?

Stephen Geoffreys: Yeah, and this goes with the question a long time ago about how I felt like when I first saw it. It’s one thing when you’re there on the set making it, 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. So, yeah. Does that answer…? (Laughs)

(Audience laughs)

William Ragsdale: The pathos of that moment. Usually that’s the heroic moment, when you kill the beast. And in that moment, there’s so much sympathy.

Stephen Geoffreys: Yeah, and I remember, it was really difficult thinking about what was happening. It was really hard, I remember. Not just the physical part of it. But it was pretty intense. Yeah, it was crazy. Thanks.

Tom Holland: Special word for Stephen Geoffreys. He took chances. 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.

(Audience applauds)

Audience Member: Is there any special reason that only Chris’s character turned into a bat? Where as “Evil” Ed was the wolf?

Tom Holland: (Pause) None that I can remember. (Audience laughs) No, what you do is you break it down and look at the special FX’s and you choose – we did the bat already when Jerry jumps off the balcony of the house. And the shadow which is an optical turns into the bat, then you go to the puppet. So, we’d done the bat. So, therefore, we did the werewolf with him. It’s as simple as that.
Audience Member: Yeah, there was a comic book series back in the 80’s for FRIGHT NIGHT from NOW COMICS. I think “Evil” Ed was a main character. Anybody have any imput on the comics?

Tom Holland: I’ll tell you what’s happened that’s sort of amazing. FRIGHT NIGHT… and God bless you all, but its reputation continues to grow. By leaps and bounds. And I was recently contacted about re-releasing the novelization and I informed Tore Books that I intended to do that. And I think the legality of it is they have 6 months to respond. And I also did the same thing with the comics. Because there is growing fan interest, I’m going to try to resuscitate both the novelization and the comic books.

(Huge audience applause)

Tom Holland: I had separated rights because it was an original, and it was the deal I made with Vista. I do not have the rights to the movies, the studio does. But the comic books and the novelization, I do and I’m going to try to resuscitate them.

Audience Member: First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you for being here.

Chris Sarandon: Thank you for having us.

(Audience applause)

Audience Member: I don’t know if any of you have experiences, or remember your first vampire movie? Seeing it as a kid, or what affected you?

Tom Holland: I will tell you the genre was dead. The last vampire movie before FRIGHT NIGHT was LOVE AT FIRST BITE. (Huge audience laughs) It was a farcical comedy with George Hamilton. When they do farce, it means the genre is played out. It is exhausted. For 2 or 3 years there were no vampire movies and FRIGHT NIGHT resuscitated it. And as far as I know, there’s never been another lag since 84 and FRIGHT NIGHT. So, the first one I saw was of course… DRACULA.

Chris Sarandon: Yeah, the first one I saw was the original Bela Lugosi DRACULA. Stunning movie.

William Ragsdale: I saw that one too. (Laughs) Yeah, I was sort of the next generation I guess, and then I grew up on Count Yorga and those guys, the real HAMMER guys. I grew up in South Arkansas where it’s real hot and real humid, so the theater was a real refuge. Yeah. And Yorga and Phibes and all those guys, grew up on them.

Jonathan Stark: I was never a big vampire fan. But I can remember when I was younger, my mother used to drop a bunch of us guys from the neighborhood off at this crappy theater. Give us money for candy for the whole day. We’d watch like 3 double features, and they were always HAMMER films, and they were unbelievable. They were just exactly what a 12 year old boy would want to see. Lots of cleavage and lots of blood. (Audience laughs)

Amanda Bearse: DARK SHADOWS came about… (Audience applauds) Vampires are sexy, because of their humanity and I think that’s what part of the allure of this film. The humanity is, it’s very sexual content, some of it more overt than others. And then the humanity is also the humor of the film which to me is what makes it such a unique piece. But vampires when I was a little kid, they were my horror. They were my bad dreams. But I think it’s because there was more reality to that, that humanity and that is was that close to who I was is what made it more terrifying. So, it was more the bad dreams I had than DAKR SHADOWS, but DARK SHADOWS was cool.

Stephen Geoffreys: This movie was pretty much the introduction to me of this type of thing. I wasn’t a fan of horror type movies before this, but where I’m from in Cincinnati, they had this talk show host, his name was the Cool Ghoul. And he was totally like a Peter Vincent type character, and I just loved the silliness of this guy and the over the top kind of weirdness of it.

Julie Carmen: I remember the first time I read Bram Stoker’s and the permission that it gave people in a Victorian era to be sexual. But I do also have to mention Catherine Deneuve in THE HUNGER. (Audience applause)

Tommy Lee Wallace: Everybody remembers that spectacular moment in THE WIZARD OF OZ when it goes from black & white to color. Well, there’s another movie that that happened in and it’s SON OF DRACULA. And in SON OF DRACULA, the big moment coming up to this open coffin with this woman, cleavage and blood in this thing – coming up to this woman with the big stake and the hammer, and when that hammer came down, it went to color! (Laughs) That was… my favorite. (Audience laughs)

William Ragsdale: I want to add one thing, my grandmother grew up in Appalachia. She didn’t know what a vampire was. So, she hadn’t seen a movie in ages, she went to see this movie and she was like, “Well… why did you hate the neighbor so much?” (Audience laughs) “Why did he bother you so much?” I didn’t see him drink blood, but the assumptions are everything!

Audience Member: Julie, this is for you. I think I speak for every man here that ah, you can draw my blood anytime.

(Audience laughs)

Julie Carmen: I say thank you!

Jonathan Stark: Can I just tell on thing? Anecdotes. Two quick things. I remember the scene where Chris is hit with that final sunlight, where he goes “Argghh” (flails arms about) (Audience laughs) I remember that day so vividly in my mind because he kept doing it. It’s like, “Let do another one ‘Arghhhh’” (Audience laughs) And he was on this thing where the camera would go down with him, and literally after 5 times, he looked at me and he goes, “Can you believe this is how I make a living?” (Audience laughs)

Julie Carmen: You know, the advocate in me has to get people activated here, but if everyone were to email or hand write a letter to someone at Sony and just say “Hey, bring back all these people in FRIGHT NIGHT.” Bring Tom and Tommy, they’d have to fight it out who’s going to direct. (Laughs) It makes a huge difference in Hollywood to hear from fans.

Audience Member: Now, there’s an ELLEN connection, right? William and Jonathan?

William Ragsdale: You know what? There are like 45 connections between these people here.

Jonathan Stark: Well, I was a writer on ELLEN, and I wrote the “coming out” episode for that show, and Billy (Ragsdale) was, you were the pizza boy, right?

William Ragsdale: I was Ellen’s last boyfriend.

Jonathan Stark: And you did like 3 of them, right? I didn’t get a chance to talk to him Billy. Because they don’t invite the writers down to the set too much. So, and Billy was just a jerk anyways. (Laughs)

William Ragsdale: Yeah, and there’s a Tim Robbins connection too, isn’t there?

(Pause) (Audience laughs)

Audience Member: This is for Stephen Geoffreys. How’d you make the transition to adult films?

Stephen Geoffreys: (Pause) What was that? (Laughs)

(Audience laughs)

Stephen Geoffreys: It was pretty easy, actually.

(Audience laughs)

Audience Member: Yeah, can we ever expect a Part 3 of the Tom Holland/Chris Sarandon trilogy?

Tom Holland: It’d be great if we could pull it off.

Audience Member: Like a whole different idea. There was CHILD’S PLAY, FRIGHT NIGHT…

Robg.: You guys have worked together 3 times, was it?

Tom Holland: Well, more then that. Chris – we did a terrific movie of the week called THE STRANGER WITHIN that starred Chris and Ricky Schroder and Kate Jackson. That’s a terrific movie. I would love to work with this entire crew again. I’d love to resuscitate FRIGHT NIGHT. And do a sequel. I really would.

Robg.: (To audience) You guys would like to see that, right?

(Huge audience applause)

Audience Member: If you guys rewrote FRIGHT NIGHT, would you have the whole crew come back together for the remake?

Tom Holland: Oh yes, I’d have that everybody comes back. Oh yeah. (Laughs)

Audience Member: Can everyone tell us what projects they have currently and what they’re working on next?

Tom Holland: I have something I can’t speak about that I did for the strike. It’ll be out in May. It’s me, it’s… it’s sort of a big deal…

Robg.: Let’s just say that Tom is going to make a wonderful return to horror soon.

(Audience applause)

Tom Holland: Yes. On the internet with a number of other Hollywood people that grew out of the strike in trying to put together shorts for charity, for a fundraiser. Then yes, I’m in negotiations for another horror movie to shoot this summer, yeah.

Chris Sarandon: I’ve been working in the theater a lot in New York. (Audience applause) And I’m looking for my next job, so if anyone’s making a movie?

William Ragsdale: On Wednesday, I was on a heliport in Los Angeles getting stabbed by Henry Thomas (audience laughs) for an episode of WITHOUT A TRACE.

Robg.: That’s true, he’s not kidding.

William Ragsdale: No, I’m not kidding. I’m serious.

(Audience Laughs)

Jonathan Stark: I’m really writing now and I’m finishing up a screenplay off of a book by a gentleman named Robert McCannon, I don’t know if any of you know who he is? He’s a brilliant writer, and I think equal or better then (Stephen) King. It’s for STINGER. It came out in the mid-80’s and it’s not in print anymore, but I bought the rights to it and I’m working on that.

Amanda Bearse: I went behind the camera on MARRIED WITH CHILDREN and I’ve been there for about 18 years, and I’m currently executive producing and directing a show for the Viacom Network called THE BIG GAY SKETCH SHOW. (Audience applause)

Stephen Geoffreys: Um, I have a film coming out called SICK GIRL, and I’m going to be working on one after that entitled LOS CONVINO. Thank you very much.

Julie Carmen: I did the mom in John Singleton’s ILLEGAL TENDER and just finished WONDERWALL.

Tommy Lee Wallace: I’m trolling the halls of Hollywood with two projects! One called HELLIVERSITY. And the other called SCARY LAND.

Robg.: Some of you have done FRIGHT NIGHT reunions at other conventions, but it’s only been 2 or 3 of you at a time. But I think this is the first time that all of you have been brought together, so…

Chris Sarandon: Yes.

(Audience stands and applauds)

(FRIGHT NIGHT crew stands and applauds the audience.)

Robg.: So…what has it been like for all of you to reunite this weekend?

Amanda Bearse: So cool!

Chris Sarandon: Talk about… talk about losing an exit. (Audience laughs)

Robg.: Sorry! Get out of here!

Chris Sarandon: We’re just all thrilled to be together, I think I can speak for everybody. Yeah, We’re just loving it. Ok, thank you everybody!


Special thanks to John Gray, the Pit Of Horror and Dread Central crews!
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