Fright Night Director Tom Holland and Star Chris Sarandon Reflect On Film (Exclusive)

We spoke to the Fight Night creators & Rosario Dawson at a recording of Manifest Media's Table Read podcast.

Manifest Media's Table Read podcast has finally released its highly-anticipated Fright Night episode. Back in April, the original cast of Fright Night was joined by Mark Hamill and Rosario Dawson to record a reading of the 1985 horror camp classic. ComicBook was lucky enough to be in attendance during the live reading, and we got the chance to chat with the film's director, Tom Holland, as well as its star, Chris Sarandon (Jerry Dandrige). Holland spoke about the film's initial release while Sarandon reflected on working with Roddy McDowall, who played Peter Vincent in the film. McDowall passed away in 1998, so his role was played by Hamill during the recording.

"It was the best experience I've ever had directing a film," Holland revealed to ComicBook. "I mean, none of them were as easy as this was, and that's because of a whole bunch of wonderful things coming together, and I was too inexperienced to know it. See, I had Richard Edlund doing the effects, and it was the whole Ghostbusters crew that literally Columbia wanted to keep employed because they thought they were going to do a sequel to Ghostbusters right away. And of course, it was years later, so they held Richard Edlund, Steve Johnson, Randy Cook, I mean, brilliant in-camera effects guys." 

"We did this movie at a time when the vampire movie genre was sort of in ill repute," Sarandon shared with ComicBook. "And it had a wonderful kind of salutatory effect on the genre and also on the return of fans who love these movies ... The first time I read it, it was the sample script, and I looked at the title and I said, 'No, I can't do a movie called Fright Night. I'm a serious actor.'" 

"As soon as I started reading it, I went, 'Oh my God, this is great. This is really well done, well written. I have to meet this guy, Tom.' I flew out to California and he and I sat and talked for a couple of hours, and as soon as we finished talking, and he literally described every shot to me, he said, 'Okay, here's how I'm going to shoot you.' And then he went, 'This is the opening and this is happening and this, and I'm coming in close on this.' ... And when he finished, I said, 'Jesus, this is a first-time director?'  He's a cinephile and had a history of having written a number of movies and I just thought, 'I got to work with this guy.' It's been a love affair ever since." 

Tom Holland Talks Fright Night's Success


Amanda Bearse as Amy in Fright Night.

- Columbia Pictures)

"They thought the film wasn't going to do any business," Holland added during his chat with ComicBook. "But they had a place on their schedule for a little film. So they gave me that idea, $9 million, and they didn't bother me because there were no stars in it. There was not a lot of money riding on it. They didn't expect anything. The film of the time that everybody was looking at, I think it was called Perfect with John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis." 

"So they didn't even think about me, and so I had no interference," Holland continued. "They pushed me towards the very end to cut when Jerry Dandrige was on the roof and slams the chimney with his elbow. But outside of that, I got everything that I wanted. So nobody pushed me about casting ... So it was an extraordinarily wonderful experience ... The more money goes into a film, the more they put the executives on the set, and the more you get pressure and interference." 

Chris Sarandon Shares Stories About Roddy McDowall


Roddy McDowall in Fright Night (1985).

- Columbia Pictures)

"Well, my wife had worked with Roddy on a tour many years before with Vincent Price and his wife, Coral Browne, and she was on the road with them for a long time, so she became close friends with her," Sarandon told ComicBook when asked about McDowall. 

"And so I got to know Roddy in a way, kind of tangentially through my wife. And then we did the movie together and he became a close friend to the point where we would be invited to Roddy's famous dinners at his house where some of the people who came were just extraordinary," he continued. "But he would create these alchemic kinds of dinners where screenwriters and movie stars and directors and producers and writers would all get together. And he was a font of history of this town, and in a way, a wonderful representative of the history of this city."

"And we would talk about some of the old movies he did and some of the movies that he was in. How Green Was My Valley? Still my favorite film," Sarandon shared.

Rosario Dawson Shares Love For Fight Night


The cast and crew of Manifest Media's Fright Night Table Read podcast on April 20th, 2024 in Los Angeles. 

- Lexus Macon/Courtesy of Manifest Media)

During Manifest Media's table read of Fright Night, Rosario Dawson (Star Wars: Ahsoka) joined the cast to read multiple roles in the script. While chatting with ComicBook at the table read, Dawson spoke about her love for the film.

"Oh my God. Huge," Dawson shared when asked if she was a fan of the film. "I saw it all the time and I was joking about how wild that was. I used to put this on Channel 11. We used to watch it after school ... And Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. With the tassels at the end and you're like, 'How is this after school?' This was definitely when it was an adult world and not in a children's world, but they would let this play and you'd be able to watch it with commercials in between. It was totally normal. It was great."

You can listen to the Fright Night episode of the Table Read podcast here.