Welcome to Fright Night! Before making his directorial debut in 1985 with the original Fright Night, Tom Holland was just getting started establishing himself as one of the Masters of Horror. Prior to creating his modern twist on Rear Window with vampires, Holland was a genre writer coming off of a hot streak of well-performing scripts including The Beast Within, Class of 1984, Psycho II and Cloak & Dagger.
When Holland created the story of Fright Night, he knew he needed to be at the helm of the project since the film was essentially his love letter to the genre he’s always loved. Once Fright Night hit theaters on August 2, 1985, Holland was well on his way to be one of the most respected horror filmmakers of his time.
Despite a somewhat limited release on only 1,545 screens nationwide, Fright Night managed to be the sleeper genre hit of the year, second only to A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, and we all know how high the anticipation was surrounding Krueger’s return to the big screen that year.
But Fright Night proved to be a calculated risk for Columbia Pictures as Holland’s first shot at directing took in $6.1 million its opening weekend and $24.9 million domestic gross overall.
But beyond the profits, with Fright Night Holland proved himself as a prominent new voice in the horror genre and introduced a whole new generation of horror fans to some of the most beloved characters of modern genre films from the last 30 years: failed actor turned TV-host Peter Vincent (played by beloved actor Roddy McDowall), sexy and dangerous vamp next door Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon at his finest), unassuming average 80s teenager turned vampire killer Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale), the virginesque Amy Peterson (Amanda Bearse) and awkward best buddy “Evil” Ed Thompson (Stephen Geoffreys).
In the first of Dread Central’s four-part look back at the original Fright Night, Holland talks about how the idea of Fright Night came about, his experiences getting the film made with Columbia Pictures and how a first-time director managed to assemble such an amazing cast of players for his feature film debut.
Check out the first part of our Fright Night video retrospective below as well as a few exclusive never-before-seen behind-the-scenes F/X stills courtesy of Holland himself that give you a unique look at the special make-up and creature effects on the film by a then up-and-coming Steve Johnson (ANOES 4: Dream Master, Blade II, War of the Worlds).
Also, make sure to come back tomorrow and the rest of the week for more of our exclusive in-depth interview with Holland on the making of his original Fright Night, his thoughts on the 1988 sequel and so much more!
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CLICK FOR PART THREE
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