|Nightlife, as it was originally called, started out as a broad social satire about the choices you make entering adulthood (kind of the The Graduate, only stupid). It juxtaposed life in Hollywood, which was portrayed as vampiric (living only for yourself, feeding off of others, and selling your soul for eternal youthkind of like Hollywood in real life), versus a vision of safe, suburban choices (avoid the bad part of town, don't be different, marry the girl next door, keep out of trouble and stay where it's safe).|
The first draft of the screenplay ended with Russ and Jamie making the wrong (fun) decision (hooking up with bad girls, staying out all night, never growing up), and Mark and Robin trying to make the right (boring) decision (staying in the suburbs, being a day person and doing the "decent" thing) but getting foiled by the Countess and becoming vampires themselves.
But the script evolved over the next two years into a more conventional teen comedy, with the kids becoming the main characters and the vampires becoming the hook of the film, rather than the main subjects.
Here are some scenes from various drafts to show you the film's metamorphosis into the finished mess that you see before you on basic-cable, Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Download:
First Draft: The first act of Nightlifewildly overwritten, as you will readsets up our version of Hollywood as being a dark forbidding place. It's satirical, has nothing to do with teen sex comedies, and was gone by the second draft.
Nocturnal Outcall: In Nightlife, the Countess never leaves the safety of Hollywood, where she blends in with the punks, goths, and fringe-dwellers, and lures Mark back to her lair through his dreams. Meanwhile, we see her go through her nightly vampiric duties, and discover how tough it is to find new meat in Los Angeles. It was only in later drafts that she invaded the suburbs.
Amusement Park sequence: This is from the second draft (which almost got us fired), and it contains some of my favorite scenes. This would all be fairly easy to shoot today, but in 1985 it was deemed too difficult to do ("more cartoon than live action," was how Russ Thatcher put it), and in the finished film the carnival was replaced with a shopping mall. The rollercoaster stuff with Russ and Jamie was replaced with the laundromat scene, which we had written for another part of the story. Because all indoor malls all have laundromats, I guess...
Third Draft Ending: The third draft of the script, now titled Once Bitten, was designed to be more of a teen film and opened in a drive-in theater, where Mark and the chaste Robin were surrounded by people copulating in all of the other cars, and were watching animated fast food perform incredibly suggestive acts onscreen during the intermissionbuns opening for wieners, french fries jumping through onion rings, etc. (Sam Goldwyn, Jr., felt that drive-ins were too dated, and switched the location of Mark and Robin's attempted make-out session to lovers' lane with oil derricks pumping all around them.) Anyway, the ending returned Mark and Robin to the same drive-in, and also revealed the fate of Russ and Jamie. "Mr. Peacock" is the school's history teacher who had originally told Robin the history of female vampires in the script. We lobbied for Vincent Price to play the part. (In the finished film the character was changed to a bookseller with a fake Indian accent, for no apparent reason.) As for the Hall & Oates stuff, they were huge in 1984 and I played a lot of their stuff while writing the script. I envisioned their song "Maneater" playing when Mark met the Countess in the bar. I'm sure all the fans of the soundtrack would be outraged to know that, but hey, I was 23 years old, and those songs are still pretty damn good...
Script To Screen
Vampire Mark: In the first draft, Mark had black and white dreams throughout the course of the story that parodied old vampire movies; it was supposed to show the downside of being a vampire as a running subplot. The dreams followed Vampire Mark as he attempted to find a victim to bite in 16th Century Europe, becoming more and more frustrated at his own ineptitude, until villagers carrying torches and pitchforks track him down in his crypt. Eventually, the dreams invade his daily life and become hallucinations, climaxing at the school dance. But by the time they were going to film the screenplay, the dreams/hallucinations of Mark as a vampire had been reduced to one measly dream sequence with Vampire Mark attacking Robin, who appeared as a peasant girl wandering in the graveyard of his crypt. Then as they were about to film the scene, Sam Goldwyn, Jr., felt that the set didn't match the look of the rest of the film, so it was scrapped and the scene was re-filmed in an all-white, modernized setting. Unfortunately, in scrapping the classic vampire B-movie look, elements like an obviously fake bat seemed out of context, and just made audience members say (quite audibly in the screenings I attended), "Couldn't they afford a better-looking bat?!?" Anyway, fortunately, the photos you see here were taken of the original set and eventually used to promote the film when it was decided after the fact that it might have been a GOOD thing to look like a vampire film (in fact, an image from this photoshoot appeared on the Italian theatrical poster). Imagine the audience's surprise when it had nothing to do with the movie...
Wedding Dream: This dream sequence, occurring right after the school dance, was also created in our ill-fated 2nd draft. It was filmed and shown in early test screenings. This scene was WAY too long to begin with, but the finished product was an even longer, tortuous scene that kept growing and growing. Everybody wanted to add their own bits to it and it became way too unfocused, and a little mean-spirited.
This dream played to complete silence from the test audience at a theater in San Diego, and it was subsequently (mercifully) chopped from the film. Part of the cut footage can also be seen in the film's trailer. (Countess: "How would you like to spend eternity with me?" Mark: "I can't. I've gotta to go to college.")
Confessional Scene: This scene was in every draft of the script, but has a different payoff than you are shown in the finished film (this version is from the third or fourth draft, but it changed very little). Although Howard Storm says in his autobiography that he refused to film this scene as written, it was actually shot as-is, but re-dubbed because of a potential Catholic church backlash (the punchline here was replaced in the finished film with "You're in deep shit," which is obviously something you hear at Mass all the time). To prove my point, you can still hear the "wino" grunting and straining as he defecates in the next booth. So when you finish reading this, say ten 'Hail Marys' and think about what you have done...