As slasher films dominated the 1980s, writer/director Tom Holland (not Spider-Man) sought to bring back the lore of old school monster movies, with a dose of self-aware humor. The result was 1985’s Fright Night, which remains a cult classic for many horror fans.
It boasts memorable characters, impressive special effects/makeup, and a charm that would be nearly impossible to replicate today. So, in honor of its 35th anniversary today, we thought it would be fitting to take a look at 35 fun facts, one for each year since its release! So without further ado, here are 35 fun facts about Fright Night:
1. The original idea for writer/director Tom Holland was the desire to do a vampire story blended with the The Boy Who Cried Wolf Story.
2. Fright Night was the directorial debut of Tom Holland. He was previously upset with the handling of his screenplays for Class of 1984, Psycho II, and Scream for Help.
3. Originally, the role of Peter Vincent was written for Vincent Price, however it was decided that the character wasn’t “in the same league” as someone as iconic as Price.
4. The character is even named after Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.
5. Charlie Sheen originally auditioned for the lead role, but Tom Holland felt that he looked too much like a movie star and not enough like an ordinary teenager.
6. Initially Chris Sarandon rejected the script, stating, “there’s no way I can do a horror movie.” But he was really impressed after reading the script.
7. Stephen Geoffrey’s got the part after giving a very strange audition for Anthony Michael Hall’s part in Weird Science. But it made an impression with the right people, and so he was suggested for Fright Night.
8. Tom Holland encouraged the actors to come up with a 1-2 biography for their character so as to help fully develop them.
9. The actors and crew were given 2 weeks’ rehearsal time prior to production, something unusual for most films, but it greatly benefited the filming process.
10. Chris Sarandon came up with the idea of Jerry eating apples because he felt that the character was probably part fruit bat in his DNA.
11. Tom Holland stated that Columbia executives largely left Fright Night alone during production, because they were so focused on the success of Perfect and The Slugger’s Wife. Thus it resulted in a great deal of freedom. Ironically, Fright Night outgrossed both movies and was the only one of the three to turn a profit!
12. In the background of Peter Vincent’s apartment, you can spot one of the masks that Roddy McDowall used from Planet of the Apes.
13. McDowall was described as a “walking history book” of movie knowledge by his costars on set.
14. The whole time on set, McDowall reportedly carried a camera and shot a lot of behind the scenes footage. Although no one knows what ultimately happened with that footage, or where it was ever released, if at all.
15. Chris Sarandon went as far as to refer to Roddy McDowall as “a kind of Yoda on the set”.
16. William Ragsdale (Charley) actually broke his ankle while running down a staircase in one scene.
17. Fright Night was the first vampire movie to spend $1 million on special effects, which was a large chunk of the film’s total budget.
18. Chris Sarandon came up with the idea of Amy bearing resemblance to his long lost love, as it gave Jerry a bit more depth. This same idea would be used again in another vampire movie, 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
19. Due to the long hours in the makeup chair (8 hours for the final transformation), Chris Sarandon practiced hypnosis and meditation to get through it.
20. Tom Holland used his own 1966 Ford Mustang as Charley’s car in the movie.
21. Makeup artist Ken Diaz would go on to do makeup for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, as well as Black Panther, and Training Day, as well as the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick.
22. Tom Holland specifically wanted Brad Fiedel to do the score because he was a huge fan of his musical score in The Terminator, a year earlier.
23. There was a novelization published in 1985. Authors Craig Spector and John Skipp were given Holland’s script to work from, and only had a month to complete the novel.
24. Fright Night remains the 2nd highest grossing horror movie of 1985 ($25 million), only behind A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge ($30 million).
25. Fright Night went on to win Saturn Awards for Best Writing, Supporting Actor (Roddy McDowall), and Best Horror Film. It was also nominated for Best Director (Tom Holland) and Best Actor (Chris Sarandon).
26. Chris Sarandon would go on to work with director Tom Holland again in 1988’s Child’s Play, where trades being the villain for being a police detective dealing with Chucky.
27. The film got an “unofficial” Bollywood remake in 1989 called Kalpana House.
28. In 1988, a sequel was released, having been directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, who previously directed Halloween III: Season of the Witch, and would go on to direct the 1990 It TV Miniseries.
29. Fright Night 2 went straight to video after the tragic murder of Carolco head, José Menendez and his wife Kitty by their sons Lyle and Erik. There had also been a planned third film, but following the murders and fallout at Carolco, the plans were scrapped.
Both Lyle and Erik Menendez were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and are currently inmates at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County.
30. In 2008, Fright Night got a stage adaptation which premiered in Pittsburgh, PA.
31. Most of the original cast got back together in 2008 to record an unofficial pirated commentary of the film, since they had never been asked to do one before. The commentary track was released as a free mp3.
32. The 2011 remake starring Anton Yelchin, Toni Colette, Imogen Poots, David Tennant, and Colin Farrell was a box office success, many of the cast/crew of the original felt it was lacking the heart and humor of the original.
33. Tom Holland himself praised the remake for its “professionalism” but felt that it should have been a standalone film with a different title, as it bore so little spiritual resemblance to his film. He even called what they did to Jerry and Peter Vincent’s characters “criminal”.
34. In 2015, Tom Holland expressed interest in doing a sequel/reboot to the original film (much like 2018’s Halloween) with Charley now as a single father with teenage children of his own. And their next door neighbor is Evil Ed, trying to resurrect Jerry.
35. Fright Night remains such a cult hit that when the limited edition 30th anniversary bluray was released in 2015, all 5000 copies were sold in less than 2 days!
Which of these did you already know? Which ones surprised you? What’s your favorite thing about Fright Night?! Let us know in the comments!