Confession time: I love the film Fright Night. It’s an annual Halloween film tradition. Own the Blu ray. Owned the VHS, the DVD, used to have the poster until it was accidentally destroyed. I knew of the documentary film, You’re So Cool, Brewster! The Story of Fright Night when it released two years ago, but never watched it because I knew there would be sadness because Roddy McDowall wasn’t alive anymore to be involved. See, I’m a huge Roddy fan. The Planet of the Apes films and television series, The Legend of Hell House. Lassie Come Home. The Twilight Zone. The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Night Gallery. The list goes on and on.
But curiosity won in the long run.
You’re So Cool, Brewster! is a love letter to Fright Night. Directed by Chris Griffiths (RoboDoc: The Creation of Robocop, 2017), the film documents Tom Holland’s dream to make a vampire film that was scary and fun and something completely different from what audiences had seen before. In 1985, Freddy was just starting to invade our nightmares, but vampires were in a slump. Holland’s love of the classic horror films, especially those of Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, led him to write a script that refreshed the vampire legend while still paying homage to the timeworn tropes. The documentary features extensive interviews with Holland as he breaks down his inspirations, the early drafts of the script, casting decisions and pre-production. It’s interesting to note that McDowall was not his original choice to play television vampire hunter Peter Vincent, but he’s lucky he actually got the actor to eventually play the role. A first-time director without a proven track record, several studios passed on the project until many of the actors were cast.
Speaking of the cast, the documentary features interviews with William Ragsdale (Charley Brewster), Amanda Bearse (Amy Peterson), Stephen Geoffreys (Evil Ed), Jonathan Stark (Billy Cole), and Chris Sarandon (Jerry Dandrige). Placed next to the cast members are recreations of the some of the props of the film that align with their character. Each member of the cast brings their own memories of working on the film with behind-the-scenes anecdotes that give you an insider’s view of the film’s production. The film covers every aspect of the film, from the story, pre-production, casting, special effects, even the score. Exclusive footage of the special effects, with interviews from the crew, detail how they created some of the more challenging effects shown in the movie.
If there’s one aspect of the documentary that seemed a little tiresome, it was the Peter Vincent sketches, with Simon Bamford (Hellraiser, Hellbound, Nightbreed) portraying Vincent. Not that Simon isn’t a great actor, it’s just that they wore the joke out, and no matter how good he is, he’s not Roddy McDowall. Fortunately, those segments are short for the most part, and the rest of the film shines in comparison. Make no bones about it, Fright Night was a game changer for the vampire genre, proving you can still have laughs and scare the hell out of people at the same time. You’re So Cool, Brewster!, available on Shudder and other venues online, is definitely worth the price of admission for a deep view inside the making of Fright Night.