Stephen Geoffreys was easily one of the coolest actors to come out of the 80’s horror genre. His work as “Evil Ed” in FRIGHT NIGHT was one of the most memorable performances I’ve ever witnessed. I can easily quote a few lines from the film and they are for the most part his. After working mostly in theatre, he quickly became one of the hardest working actors in the business, with FRATERNITY VACATION, AT CLOSE RANGE and the cult classic 976-EVIL. The dude was even nominated for a Tony Award.
After leaving the business for many years, recent interest in FRIGHT NIGHT has reminded people of Stephen’s talent. He returns to the genre with SICK GIRL and NEW TERMINAL HOTEL. It has been a long time, and I was very happy to get a chance to add him on as one of the Horror Legends I’ve been lucky enough to talk to. Sadly, the interview ended abruptly and I was left with quite a few questions that I never had the chance to ask. But with that said, I’m happy to see Mr. Geoffreys back where he should be, in the world of scares and nightmares. Welcome back Evil Ed!
So you recently had a FRIGHT NIGHT reunion… what was it like?
It was just so fun. It was the first time I’d seen it in a theatre like that since the summer of 1985. So it was really, really fun. I mean, I had a blast. And I’m pretty sure all the other actors and artists involved, we all had a wonderful time.
It’s amazing looking back at that film and how well it holds up today. It is a wonderful movie.
Yeah, and that’s not always the case with twenty plus year old films. I’ve seen it a million times and I still just love watching it and it never wears out.
You know what I really liked about the character of “Evil Ed”, is that you are kind of the “Renfield” [From DRACULA]. You kind of re-invented that classic character for a whole new generation.
Yeah, and it was… you know, I owed a lot to the great writing of Tom Holland and his direction. Actually, it was the writing, it was so well written. When I first got the script, it instantly clicked, you know and I felt really, really excited about the possibility of playing that part. And it was a blast working on it. It was kind of challenging but it was fun.
How old were you when you shot the film? Wasn’t it twenty or something?
Twenty… two or three I think.
Up until then you had done mostly comedy and that was your first horror film, although it has strong comic elements to it.
Yeah… my first instinct when I heard that I was auditioning for it was, ‘Oh my God, what the heck is this?’ I was used to doing classical roles, like in college and stuff, and here all of a sudden I’m supposed to pretend that there are vampires and I believe in them, and that they are biting me in alleys. I think I pretty much rose to the occasion and pulled it off. And to be honest, I didn’t think of it after awhile as a horror movie, or even as a vampire movie. It was a great story and there was a lot of depth to the writing and as far as the characters being really solid. And if that’s the case, I don’t really care what genre of film it is. If it’s a fun role and it makes sense and it’s well written… it just so happens that that turned out to be really popular and I ended up getting a lot of horror movie offers after that, but what the heck, you know, a good movie is a good movie.
And if you look back at that time, there were so many films in that genre that really stand out today… the early to mid-Eighties really seemed to be sort of a golden age in horror.
I’d have to agree with that. I mean, they really did break certain ground and definitely defined that era.
You had a very quirky nature about you, which is why I think you stood out. I think people have tried to replicate that, but not quite as successfully.
You know, again, I watch and it’s like, I can’t really remember how I came up with the choices that I made. You know, it’s been so long. But when you read something and you get a feeling inside about it… yeah, it feels like this, alive-ness to it and then you feel compelled to make it even bigger and more alive and that was definitely the case with that part. It was a good fit. It was fun.
Now after that, you were in AT CLOSE RANGE, which is another terrific film. To be a part of that cast, that must have been a pretty amazing experience.
It was just unbelievable. Again, it was a really, really well-written script. I believe Nick Kazan wrote it and Jamie Foley directed it and it turned out great. Working with Crispin [Glover] and Kiefer [Sutherland] and all them, it was… we had a very good time down there in Nashville.
You mention Crispin, you mention Kiefer… so many great actors came from that film. And Christopher Walken… come on…
And just to see him go from being like, real quirky and sarcastic like he is and kind of crazy. And then, getting close to shooting, at the scene he just instantaneously snapped into this incredibly frightening, terrifying person. I know the scene that I had where he actually shoots me on the hill, it’s kind of really still kind of scary thinking about it. I mean, he gets this look in his eyes and it’s just a real dangerous, kind of unpredictable look. There is really no one better at that kind of character then he was and is.
And he still seems to have a real sense of humor about himself and his work.
From what I gather, it doesn’t seem like he takes himself all that seriously. Which I find really admirable.
It’s actually quite refreshing with someone at his level.
Yeah, yeah, you know, it’s fun. It’s fun getting paid a lot of money to play. What a nice life.
Getting back to you and your career, you of course, did 967-EVIL. While it was not necessarily as popular as FRIGHT NIGHT, it is certainly a cult classic in its own right.
Yeah. They are really different although they do both fit into the horror genre. But [976-EVIL] is kind of hokey I think. The biggest kick I got out of that was working with Sandy Dennis who played my mother and she was just amazing. Great, great, great actress. When you get to work with somebody who really knows what they are doing, you’re really lucky. With her, and the same with Roddy McDowell, they are people who are real pros. And to get a chance to do a scene with these people… it was just unbelievable. I used to see her in New York, when I was going to school. Like, I’d see her in Times Square walking down the street, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God! That’s Sandy Dennis!’ A couple years later, I’m in a movie with her. So it was fun. It was fun.
Well you’re also a trained actor, you were nominated for a Tony…
Yes I was. It was for a musical called “The Human Comedy”. That was a great time and theatre is pretty much how I started. But the great thing about film is that twenty-three years later, you’re still going to a theatre and watching people still get excited about your work that you did a long time ago. And once the curtain is drawn, it’s pretty much memories. But doing theatre, especially musical theatre, its just… what a blast. It’s like being in heaven.
Let me know what you think. Send questions and/or comments to JimmyO@JoBlo.com.