Fright Night (Remake & Original)

 

So this weekend, I finally sat down to watch the remake of Fright Night.

I should point out that until Let The Right One In came along, the original Fright Night, from way back in 1985 and the one and only The Lost Boys, from 1987, were my all time favorite vampire movies, but I will try to keep the rose-tinted nostalgia to a minimum for this post.

I therefore admit, that going into the remake, I was already biased against it. The original was just that… original. It took the idea of the vampire, and dropped him in as your next door neighbor, you knew about it and no one would believe you.

I think the last part is what rang so true to me, though I always loved a good vampire story. The idea of knowing something, and no one believing you, just, to me, felt very much like my youth and teen years, possibly every teen feels like that, that you know more about the world than anyone thinks, and no one believes you when you share something about it.

Now admittedly, looking back, I never knew as much as I thought I did, but still knew more than I thought.

The story of Fright Night remains the same in the remake. A vampire moves in next door, and slowly begins to make his way through his neighbors. One person knows the truth, and no one believes him.

In the original, written and directed by Tom Holland, Charlie Brewster is played by William Ragsdale. His Charlie is a horror buff, he spends his evenings trying to balance romancing his girlfriend Amy (played by Amanda Bearse) and watching his idol Peter Vincent (played by the ever awesome Roddy McDowall) host the local tv channel’s horror film show called, aptly, Fright Night.

It’s he who first begins to suspect that there is something off about his neighbor (Chris Sarandon) and it’s up to his friends Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) and Amy to prove him wrong, going so far as to roping in Peter and Chris Sarandon’s Jerry Dandridge into a fake vampire test.

The bodies begin to pile up, Jerry turns Ed, seduces Amy, and finally Brewster and Peter go stake to fang with Jerry.

Although there are adults in this story, Charlie’s mom is kinda pushed to the periphery, appearing now and again to remind us that she’s there, leaving Jerry, Peter, his aid Billy Cole, and the occasional police officer, keeping the film very much in the teen’s world, as it flits with the idea of sex, growing up and the leaving behind of what people see as childish things, faith and belief in oneself.

But of course time’s change, and Hollywood likes to plunder its past because people don’t watch old movies anymore, so it must be time for a remake.

Happily, the remake tends to work except for a couple of points.

Gone is the whole teen experience in this film, Toni Collette brings Charlie’s mother to the forefront as a single hardworking realtor mom who is quite taken with the new neighbor, who works at night, Jerry Dandridge (now played by Colin Farrell).

I will say this, I did like the idea of moving the location to the suburbs of Las Vegas, it made sense, as most of the activity there would naturally take place at night. The perfect stalking grounds for a vampire.

Anton Yelchin is an actor who will have a long career ahead of him. I’ve thought so, since I first came across him in Hearts In Atlantis. If you can hold your own against Sir Anthony Hopkins… you’ve got chops! Yelchin’s take on Charlie differs from Ragsdale’s because he’s trying to leave his love of geekdom behind, kind of denying who he really is, all to impress a girl (Imogen Poots). To the point that he ignores his geek pal Evil Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) when Ed comes to him for help to investigate the disappearance of classmates and friends. I felt it was kind of a betrayal for him to try to be a semi-cool kid, forced into finding out what was going on. In this day and age, geekdom is celebrated, sure high school is its own world, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have still been a bit of a geek. Now the character does admit to this through the course of the film, and Amy admits to knowing he’s a dweeb all along, and that’s what she likes. So I guess part of the moral there is to thine ownself be true.

Ed is the believer in this film, and gets turned a lot quicker by Jerry to vanish for a large portion of the picture. Which, I was actually ok with. Before being turned Ed was an ok character, nowhere near as fun as Geoffreys’ turn in the original, but semi-tolerable, though it’s also easy to see why Charlie would want to leave him behind. Sadly, when he turns up as a vampire, he’s a little more annoying, and one of the only aspects of the remake that I didn’t care for.

I was very delighted to see that the update had been penned by Marti Noxon, who worked with Joss Whedon on Buffy and Angel, so I was assured that she would know the material at the very least.

And she does.

She makes sure that all the lines you think you want to hear from the original are in the update, as well as taking sly jabs at other vampire franchises… (“I’m so angry you think I read Twilight”).

There is also a cool little cameo by Chris Sarandon, which I enjoyed.

One of the other downsides to the film is that there are moments that rely on that old(?) 3D standby, things flying off the screen towards you, those didn’t translate so well to a 2D presentation.

But the one thing I wanted to see, no matter what, was David Tennant as Peter Vincent, who was my favorite character in the original movie.

David’s Vincent is a different animal. He’s not the host of a cable television horror show, he’s a big Las Vegas act, an illusionist in the vein of Criss Angel, a drunk and a coward, who stares into the illusion of darkness to push back against the memories of his youth that haunt him.

I’m a huge Tennant fan, he wasn’t my first Doctor Who, but he most definitely IS my Doctor. He’s funny, wry, and doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously.

I was delighted therefore to find myself really enjoying his turn as Peter Vincent, and honestly, I thought there could have been more of his character in the film he was just that fun.

Is it a perfect film? No. There are a few dropped balls and missed opportunities but overall the film is really enjoyable, gives a new twist on favorite moments from the original and brings back the idea of vicious, evil, bloodsucking vampires who aren’t there to romance you, they’re there to rip your throat out and feed on you.

I still prefer the original, that will never be knocked aside, but I’m glad that I don’t have to pretend that the remake doesn’t exist.

But as a final note… I’ve noticed in my image searches that my David Tennant character poster is different from the one on the internet. ON the web, his poster reads “He’s raising the stakes,” mine, obviously the cooler of the two 🙂 says “Let’s Kill Something.” Does anyone know anything about that? I know different markets get different posters but I can’t even find mine online anywhere!

 

 

 

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One Comment Add yours

  1. bidango says:

    I actually saw this opening night in 3D and loved it. I haven’t watched it in 2D yet and am interested in what it looses.

    The crowd in the theatre let out a huge cheer when Chris Sarandon showed up.

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