You're So Cool, Brewster! The Story of Fright Night (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)


Just released this December, we have You're So Cool, Brewster! The Story of Fright Night, an almost four hour documentary on both Fright Night and Fright Night 2 from the UK outfit who also made Leviathan, the Hellraiser 1 & 2 doc.  It's another Kickstarter-funded project, and the first 1000 copies are a pretty swagged out blu-ray/ DVD combo pack with a comic book and everything, which I believe is still available as of this writing; and you can bet we're going to break down every little aspect of this pretty terrific 3-disc set.  But for starters, let's just take a look at the documentary itself.
Fright Night is a really popular cult film.  I mean, it's even pretty big as just an 80s mainstream film.  So it's pretty surprising that this film has always been barebones until Twilight Time's 30th Anniversary Edition finally created a special edition of it last year.  I mean, the filmmakers had even leaked audio commentaries they made for the film themselves online and they couldn't get Sony to include any extras until then.  So we were really starved for content.  And now, following the healthy but somewhat limited collection of features from Twilight Time (covered here), with this all-inclusive, completist documentary, I'd say fans have finally gotten what we've been waiting decades for.
And personally, I've been even more excited for this documentary's coverage of Fright Night 2, because that hasn't had any kind of behind-the-scenes coverage until now.  And this doc really gives this film the respect of equivalent coverage.  I mean, it's maybe 55%/ 45% between the two films.  They do briefly address the remake as well, but they don't talk to anyone from that version (except they do get Chris Sarandon to discuss his cameo), and oddly they make no mention of 2013's Fright Night 2, almost as if they didn't even know it existed ...which, given all the impact it had, is possible.  But really, for these two films, coverage is thoroughly extensive.  Everybody alive who worked on either film is included, even actors who played minor roles like the cop in part 1 and the mental patient in part 2.  Only Traci Lind stands out as a conspicuous absence, but given she hasn't acted since 1997, I guess she wasn't so easy to find.
But given they're covering two films and talking to so many people, the pacing for this 350 minute doc actually feels pretty brisk.  We're constantly cutting in and out of interviews, showing clips and behind-the-scenes photos; time really flies as you watch it.  well, except for certain scenes.  Look, I respect that the filmmakers decided to put in the time and budget to create a real production beyond simply your standard talking heads doc, and they added some little animations which are cute.  But they also produced these long scenes with a new actor playing the character of "Peter Vincent" introducing each segment of the doc in a comical way, and they're... a little bit excruciating.  It's so hammy and over the top, I can't imagine Roddy McDowell would be flattered by the interpretation, and it's pretty much the same joke over and over again in every scene: he's vain.  You could easily cut these and maybe a few other little trims and bring this documentary to under three hours.  But, with that said, they're utterly worth sitting through, because everything else about this doc is terrific.  It's well shot, full of terrific, good humored anecdotes and insight by everybody from Steve Johnson to Amanda Bearse.  Everything you're hoping for is in this film and it looks great.
2016 Cult Screenings DVD on top; blu-ray below.
So yes, this is a combo pack, meaning disc 2 is a DVD copy of disc 1.  Naturally, they're the same except for one being in SD and one in HD; but I have to say, they DVD copy looks even a little softer than I would expect a compressed DVD version of a blu to look, I guess because of the film's length.  So the benefit of the blu-ray is just that incremental bit more here.  Overall, the picture looks quite strong.  It's primarily presented in 1.78:1, but shifts to accommodate the film clips' original aspect ratios.  The footage from both the Fright Night films is taken from strong, 2.35 HD sources.  They maybe look a little softer than their official blu-ray releases, and there's a tiny issue of duplicate frames in the film clips; but considering this is insert footage for a doc rather than an official release of the films, there's absolutely nothing to complain about.

There are no subtitles or audio options, just your single AC3 English audio track, which sounds pretty clear.  There's clearly a lot of room tone and hiss in a lot of the interview recordings, which they attempt to cover with music, but is still noticeable.  It's not distracting, and I'd say an issue more to do with the filmmaking itself than the blu-ray presentation, but you'd think a little run through Soundtrack Pro could've fixed it.  Oh well.
There's absolutely nothing else on discs 1 & 2 besides the movie itself, which is entirely appropriate given its length, but disc 3 is a whole 2 hours or so worth of additional features, some of which you should really check out.  There's also a little more than was listed on the official website, which was a nice surprise.  Let's look at it piece by piece:
  • What Is Fright Night? A brief collection of interview outtakes where every interview subject is briefly asked the titular question.  This is probably a scrapped opening to the film, which is just as well, since no one watching this wouldn't be familiar.  Not bad, but you're not missing much if you skip it. 
  • Writing Horror: Tom Holland The first two or three minutes are completely redundant clips from the film, but after that we get some interesting interview clips about Holland as a writer that are worth checking out.
  • From Apes To Bats: Roddy McDowall A really nice retrospective on McDowall from everyone in the film.  I could see, pacing wise, why this wouldn't fit in the film itself, but it's great to have as an extra.
  • Tom Holland and Amanda Bearse Talk Fright Night This is a pretty long and in-depth talk between the two. Holland repeats a few stories (expect to hear about his dinner with Vincent Price several times in this set), but also gets into a lot of different areas, including how he had to threaten to sue the producers of the remake in order to get characters and story by credit.
  • Round Table Discussion with Tom Holland, William Ragsdale and Stephen Geoffreys Not as good as the one with Bearse, but along the same lines and with some good new moments.  Worth checking out.
  • A Beautiful Darkness Just a fun little clip where Julie Carmen shows us all the cool costumes she kept from Fright Night 2.  Short, so definitely worth the watch.
  • Full-Extended Peter Vincent Segments ...As in the new actor they hired to do the impersonation of Roddy McDowall's character. It's 30 minutes long and sorry, but you couldn't pay me to watch this.
  • Peter Vincent Host Behind the Scenes A short, amusing little look at the fake Vincent segments.  Obviously I'm not a fan of those, but this was cute, watching him get into the make-up etc.
  • The Peter Vincent Trailers Something shot exclusively for the bonus disc, these are fake movie trailers for the movies the character of Peter Vincent would've made, created with their imposter PV, of course, and a bunch of other actors in front of green screen.  I'm surprised they went to the trouble of making these.
  • Peter Vincent Trailer Outtakes Self-explanatory.  If you were amused by the trailers, you'll probably get a kick out of these.  But if you found it all annoying, skip this too.
  • An Interview With David Madison The director of an obscure, indie horror flick called Mr. Hush starring Stephen Geoffreys talks about how much of an inspiration Fright Night was to him. I'd never heard of Mr. Hush, and from the clips they show it looks cheap and awful, but it's worth watching just to see the clips of Geoffreys playing a vampire again.
  • Weekend of Hell With Amanda and Stephen This is like a 30 minute convention panel with a host and some audience Q&A. Sound and picture quality isn't the best, and a lot of the anecdotes are repeated from the movie. Worth watching if you're still hungry for more, but nothing essential.
  • Rob Cantrell Interview This is actually a terrific inclusion.  Cantrell is one of the effects artists on the original Fright Night who committed suicide in 1985.  This is an audio recording he made for his friend, telling his story. It's very personal, and talks as much about the death of his brother and a car accident he was in than anything else, but he also talks about his career as an effects artist and is very candid about some of the people he worked with. I'm surprised they didn't work this into the film itself, but it's great that it's here.
  • Photo Galleries A healthy collection of stills and behind-the-scenes photos from both movies.
  • Official Trailer
Apart from all that, this limited edition includes an 8-page comic (though there's really not much of a story to it) and an exclusive slip cover.  Pre-orders also included a large poster for one of the fake Peter Vincent films they made a trailer for on the bonus disc.
This has all been a lot of words to say that this is a wonderful documentary that all Fright Night fans should see.  You might even come out of it as a bigger fan of Fright Night 2.  At least a little bit.  And the bonus disc has some terrific stuff on it, so don't just settle for seeing the film by itself.  The UK release of Fright Night from Eureka includes a 2-hour cut of this film (which I'd guess means they just chopped off the Fright Night 2 half); but if you love Fright Night, you'll still want this blu-ray.  I'm not sure if there's going to be a non-limited edition down the road without the bonus disc, or if once this 1000 sell out, it's all gone. But for now, the limited edition is still available with everything except the pre-order poster.  Oh, and yes, it's region free by the way.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you as ever for your invaluable reviews of these releases! I was going to wait for the Eureka April release of Fright Night, but you've convinced me this is worth the purchase. Didn't realise that release wasn't getting the full doc, and with no FN2 release on the horizon...

    Not everyone agrees with you about the frame issues, by the way - http://forum.blu-ray.com/showthread.php?t=275666&page=6

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    1. I have to say, I really didn't think the frame thing stands out to the degree they're making it sound like. Casual viewers will surely never notice it. Frames aren't interlaced or anything, they just double-up every so often, and I can see why the filmmakers themselves didn't even realize it until forum members contacted them. And since it's just insert footage in a documentary rather than the actual Fright Night film's blu-ray, it doesn't seem worth bothering over at all, IMHO. And I think most people would call me a bit of a detail-oriented nitpicker on this site, so that's saying something. ;)

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  2. Nice review. The redacted version of YSCB found on the Eureka edition of Fright Night is runs for 146mins, in spite of what other sites print. It looks like they have only taken out the FN2 material and anything relating to the remake.

    The frame-skipping is still there on the cut-down version, but given that all of the interviews are static in nature, it only affects clips from the movie(s). The UK Blu also contains a three of the bonus features found here, as well as the half of the photo gallery relating to the first movie.

    I had a review disc of the Eureka disc, and it'll be well worth picking up when released in April if you missed out on the 2 Twilight Time discs. It's region free, too!

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