In the 1980s, vampires left their castles and European hideaways for American suburbs and small towns. In this episode, Andrea and Alex examine what happens when the monster you fear is part of your community and discuss what is to be done when they want to borrow more than just sugar….
Fright Night. Dir. Tom Holland, 1985.
The Lost Boys. Dir. Joel Schumacher, 1987.
The Growth of the Suburbs. An overview of the suburban expansion following WWII.
The Films of the Eighties: A Social History by William J. Palmer – A look at sequels and nostalgia in the 1980s.
Check out Alex and Andrea‘s guest spots on The People’s History of Film for some more of our favorite nostalgic movies over at GoodTrash Media.
Intro song: Nail Ballet from Nightmare Picture Theatre, courtesy of James Zirco Fisher.
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OK, I know I’m rearing my ugly head even faster than usual, but I have to stand up for Colin Farrell’s version of Jerry because I kinda love it.
I think the biggest thing that worked in his favor for me was that I saw the remake for Fright Night before seeing the original (don’t judge me). So I wasn’t comparing Colin Farrell to Chris Sarandon.
Beyond that though, I just love the way that Farrell plays Jerry like a total douche bag. And maybe I was reading too much into it, but I thought they were playing with the notion that Jerry originally had his eyes on Charlie’s mom, which under normal circumstances would make Charlie question his intentions. The fact that not only is Jerry an evil vampire, but he’s also kind of an asshole, made it fun to watch.
Having since seen the original, I of course love Sarandon’s take, but I’ll continue to defend Farrell’s take as well.
This was such a fun episode. The first time I saw ‘Fright Night’ was about 20 years ago when the SciFi Channel would do a month-long marathon of horror movies in October, playing an important role in developing my love for horror movies.
The 80s wasn’t just an interesting time to grow up in, it was a wild time for films too. A stronger economy meant that studios forked out bigger budgets to experiment with new technology. The quality of the special effects in ‘Fright Night’ was pretty fantastic; I use the scene where after a wolfy Evil Ed reverts to human after being stabbed by Peter Vincent as reference. Not only technically remarkable, and gruesome, but thanks to Roddy McDowell’s stellar performance, it was also powerfully tragic. I connected through the conflict of those two characters at a much more visceral level in that I was conflicted about the outcome of the final battle at Jerry’s house. Sarandon creates a brilliant monster and I didn’t appreciate how committed he was to the role until my re-watch.
This was the first time I had seen ‘The Lost Boys’, mainly because I just can’t click with Joel Schumacher films but this one was really engaging. I really liked how our introduction to Santa Carla was sort of like this assault to the senses with this carnival atmosphere, cutting to the posters of missing children. It was a nice juxtaposition of this manic liveliness and crumbling-ruin-feel of the setting. I was curious about the song ‘People Are Strange’ (covered wonderfully by Echo and the Bunnymen throughout the film) and how it tied in with the huge portrait of Jim Morrison in the vampire’s den. Was it just foreshadowing or suggests a deeper connection between the experience of us mortals and that of the vampires?
As usual, Alex and Andrea you both have given me joy and also a bit of sadness. Joy in the fact that you two have produced yet another wonderful podcast episode, sad that I will have to wait another month until the next one.
Thanks for shedding some further light on what makes both these choice contributions to vampire cinema (a category I generally hold lower stock in than other monster categories, though the high marks are certainly bright spots). The ideas about single mothers and fluid sexuality I found especially intriguing. And many thanks for standing up for Dianne West’s character. Suspicious how she’s been a target over the years while Brewster’s mom not as much–their main distinction seems to be that Lucy is looking for personal relationships as well as maternal.
And very cool you’re going French Extreme next. I recommend Alexandra’s book to anyone reading this thread. My homework is done (guess that makes me, for the first time in my life, one of THOSE students).
I don’t have much to contribute to the discussion this time but just want to say that I’m hecka stoked for New French Extremity and am looking forward to purchasing a copy of Alex’s book to help study up for it.
I recently started listening to your podcast and I love it.
I do need to defend the remake of Fright Night however. I was sceptical when I first watch the movie but I wound up loving it. I’ve watched it repeatedly and have come away with the same conclusion: I like it better than the original. I know that probably seems sacrilegious but I was blown away by how much I loved the remake.
I’m in my early 30’s, and I grew up with vampires that were more romantic than scary. Interview With The Vampire and Coppola’s Dracula were watched every weekend with my best friend during sleepovers, I was obsessed. As I got older though I started to actively dislike Coppola’s Dracula, I hated how Dracula was portrayed as this tragic romantic figure. I used to love him, but life experiences change how you view everything, and fictional characters are no exception. I started to view him as a villain, a rapey, violent, manipulative monster. I rooted Jonathan Harker (as I do in the book, which I love) and I wanted Dracula to die.
I say all of this because when Twilight came along, I really was driven over the edge in regards to the romantic vampire trope. I won’t get into the myriad issues I have with that loathsome series, but as a feminist it really bothered me.
So when Fright Night came out, I was ready for a different type of vampire and I got what I wanted. Collin Farrell’s Jerry is a gleeful asshole, he really enjoys being a vampire and he has no problem being an absolute dick. We don’t stop and go “Ok, he kills all of these women, but you guys, he has a long lost love, there is still some humanity in him, he’s sympathetic!” No, we view him as a definite problem. He is an unrepentant dick and I love him for it.
Other great things about Fright Night: Toni Collette is awesome as a mom who actually believes her kid. She’s not dickmatized by this gorgeous man next door who seems to be into her, she trusts her son enough to listen to him, even if what he is telling her is outlandish. It was refreshing to see a parent listen to their child who was in distress and not brush them off.
I thought Amy was great, she was supportive but also strong willed. Charley was a sympathetic character as was Ed, they didn’t come off as the usual annoying teenagers. I really liked the updated Peter Vincent.
I thought the movie was really funny and everyone was quite likable. Even the hot neighbour lady who becomes one of Jerry’s victims was good. She goes from being an object of lust victim to being an adult women who helps the young protagonist escape at the cost of her own life. They humanised what could have been just a tropey minor character who was put there just to be a victim.
I like the original Fright Night, Chris Sarandon is amazing, but I found myself not really liking many of the characters and as I said before, the long lost love thing doesn’t fly for me and he too came off kind of rapey. Admittedly, I watched the original after the remake so I didn’t have that kind of connection to the movie.
I still love vampire movies, but my tastes have changed, I prefer movies like Suck and What We Do In The Shadows now, my favourite sympathetic vampire movie is Let The Right One In. I was never into The Lost Boys, my favourite 80’s vampire flick is the under-rated Near Dark.
Sorry for the novel I’ve written in your comment section, when I post comments in the future I will try to keep my rambling to a minimum, haha.
The podcast is amazing, it’s now one of my favourites.
[…] this, there’s a documentary I haven’t seen yet, and the Faculty of Horror podcast did a very good episode on the film. That’s where I learned that Chris Sarandon actually researched bats for his role […]
Loved this episode. So much great discussion on two of my favorite films. Well done, ladies!
I just watched Lost Boys for the first time the other day (I was born in ’83), and this was another great episode. I thought, however, I detected some disdain for Hook in Alex’s voice? I know it sounds absurd because Hook is amazing, but that’s what I thought I heard.
I’ve been binge-listening to your entire catalog & was SO STOKED about this one. I was 14 when this came out & it’s always held a special place in my heart (my 13 yr old sister & I use to scream & TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE PREVIEWS when they came on TV – she was obsessed with the Coreys, but I was obsessed with the LBs, especially David, & we talked an older cousin into taking us to see it when it came out in theaters). Your comments about the carny/gypsy appeal of the style of the Santa Carla subcultures but especially David & the LB are spot-on, as well as the transgressive qualities of Schumacher’s take on the vampire mythos. Such a fun episode, planning on checking out Fright Night now! 🖤