In an exclusive interview with Villain Media, writer Ben Meares talks about the vampires and nostalgia behind Fright Night: The Peter Vincent Chronicles #0. Tom Holland’s Terror Time continues the popular cult classic with an all-new terrifying adventure featuring our favorite crucifix-wielding hero!
As we previously mentioned, Fright Night: The Peter Vincent Chronicles is a 24-page original comic book, based on a story by Tom Holland. The zero issue will focus on the adventures of Peter Vincent (originally played by Roddy McDowall). The story takes place immediately after the events of the first film, and serves as a bridge into future Fright Night comic books.
With Fright Night: The Peter Vincent Chronicles out in stores now, Ben Meares talks about bringing the popular vampire slayer to life through storytelling and dialogue. Not only do we share our love for the original film, we’ll be talking about balancing the horror and comedy in the comic, and what that particular Easter Egg really means!
Villain Media: With such a cult following, Fright Night has had an official sequel and there’s even a Bollywood remake! What drew you to this project?
Ben Meares: First and foremost, Tom Holland did. When I met Tom, I was really impressed — and quite frankly surprised, in a good way — by his continued passion for the film, and for the creative process as a whole. I knew that he was interested in pursuing Fright Night as a comic, and the opportunity to attempt to carry on the legacy of the film, alongside its creator, was simply too cool to pass up. And his enthusiasm and passion for continuing the story is positively infectious. Additionally, I knew that Riley Schmitz, who I’ve worked with for years and is my most frequent collaborator, is a diehard fan of the film. So much so that the stylistic sensibilities of the movie are imprinted in his own art style. It just seemed like a perfect match. Plus, how could I say no to making a Fright Night comic?
And–wait–there’s a Bollywood remake? I guess I’m going to need to find that.
VM: I loved the scene in Fright Night where Peter Vincent takes down Edward “Evil Ed” Thompson. During the transformation, Peter Vincent looks like he’s in awe of the supernatural, but he feels guilty for hurting this innocent but misguided kid. Was that a challenge to find the complexities of the character in the story?
BM: That is my absolute favorite scene of original movie, for the exact reasons you stated. There’s a depth to it that is never really elaborated on in the film. It’s a scene I found myself obsessing over. It is one of the big reasons that Evil Ed is featured in the comic (I mean, besides the fact that it’s Evil Ed; he’s awesome). I want to explore Peter’s utterly conflicting feelings of guilt from that scene. We didn’t get to explore it in this issue, though. There simply wasn’t enough space to get into it. But, come future issues, I know one of my goals is to really explore that, since I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of Evil Ed in the comic.
VM: Peter Vincent has been played by Roddy McDowell and David Tennant. Because their performances are so different, was it tricky or easier to put your own spin on the dialogue?
BM: I only studied Roddy’s performance as Peter Vincent. Truth be told, I’ve never seen the remake. Nothing against it, I’ve just never gotten around to it. I became a bit obsessed with trying to capture Roddy’s voice as Peter Vincent. So much of the performance isn’t about what he says, but rather the inflection in which he says it. That’s very, very difficult to pin down in comic book form. So, what I ended up doing–and this will probably make me sound insane–was basically muttering to myself in a bad Peter Vincent impression as I wrote his dialogue, trying to figure out where he would roll his R’s, what word he would accentuate; things like that. My hope is that when people read the comic, they read Peter’s dialogue in Roddy’s voice in their heads. If they do, I did my job.
VM: I loved how the comic plays out the jump scares for real, much like the movie does, which is why the humor works. Tell me about balancing the horror and comedy during the vampire attack on Peter Vincent’s television set.
BM: That sequence was my favorite thing to write in this issue, by far. I personally love the blending of humor and horror. And so, it’s really a joy for me to try to capture that in stories that I write. It doesn’t feel like writing, it feels like playing. And I think that it’s a huge factor in the staying power of Fright Night as a cult classic: it’s playful in the way that it approaches horror. The horrific scenes in the film have a genuine innocence to them, while also hitting the true “horror” notes. Don’t get me wrong, I love to be told stories that repulse me to the core, but there is something really magical about playful horror.
VM: I spotted the easter egg of Child’s Play. Whose idea was it to bring Chucky, who stole the show in Ready Player One, into the story? Was it yours, Riley’s, or Tom’s?
BM: Well, firstly, that’s not Chucky. That’s simply a killer doll (wink).
That one was my idea, if I remember correctly. It started as something purely functional. The TV crew needs to be doing something so Peter could take a break and leave the set. Then it occured to me that a concept like a killer doll would be absolutely ridiculous in the eyes of Peter Vincent, who considers himself a purveyor of classic horror. The idea of introducing, even for a brief moment, Peter Vincent to the concept of a killer doll movie, and having him basically brush it off as being absurd and silly, just felt right. All that being said, I wrote it in as a throwaway line, and Riley was the one who decided to actually show the doll. This is one of the many, many reasons Riley and I work so well together. He is able to pinpoint little things in what I write and expand on them in a visual way, and I am able to write scenes that I know he’ll illustrate well.
VM: I don’t want to dive into spoiler territory with the ending, but I do have to say it broadens the scope of the story. Was that intentional — to start Peter Vincent with his own mythology?
BM: It was 100% intentional, yes. The hope is to take the foundation laid by the film and expand it as far as we can, and to set up Peter Vincent as a proper comic book character. He’s infinitely fascinating, and a deeper character than people give him credit for. I’m ridiculously excited to keep telling stories about him and his adventures.
VM: How did this project change you as a storyteller?
BM: I’m not certain that it did, truth be told. I mean, I learned some techniques specific to telling a story in the Fright Night universe, of course, but beyond that I treated it like every other writing gig I’ve ever had: try to make it loyal to the source material, try to make it good, and for the love of God make it fun to read.
VM: What are you working on now?
BM: Right now, I’m writing some issues of Grimm Tales of Terror at Zenescope Entertainment, in addition to some other projects I’m writing there that haven’t been announced yet. I’m always working on side projects; short comics and such that I occasionally find homes for in anthologies. I’m also currently working in editorial at DC Comics, which is a blast and a half. And I love working, so I’m always looking for more stuff to work on. So, hey, if anyone reading this needs a writer or an editor, hire me!
Fright Night: The Peter Vincent Chronicles #0 is available from www.terrortime.shop.
[Writer’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity. Links are highlighted in bold.]