Thursday, March 22, 2012

Movie Night: Fright Night (2011)

Welcome to Fright Night.

I’ve been fed a steady diet of scary movies since birth.

Okay, since the uterus. My mother went to see Halloween: Season of the Witch while she was pregnant. We think that’s how my fascination for terror and gore got started. Straight through the umbilical cord.

Some of my earliest memories involve curling up on the couch, next to mom, and snickering through the puns in the Nightmare on Elm Street series or making random observations during Friday the 13th.

In the last few years, Hollywood’s seen fit to run roughshod over much of my childhood by going back and remaking the horror movies I grew up with.

Fright Night (2011) poster
Among them, Fright Night, a classic, campy 80s horror tale in which horror-buff teen (Charley Brewster) suspects his handsome new neighbor (Jerry Dandridge) is a vampire and enlists the help of washed up actor turned nighttime horror-show host (Peter Vincent) to help him put said neighbor in the ground.

Fright Night
was one of the first vampire movies I ever saw. So I have a bit of a soft spot for teen slayer Charley and reluctant hero Peter. (And, of course, kooky sidekick Evil Ed.)

When I found out there was a remake forthcoming, I admit I had a bit of a “Grr” reaction.

Then I discovered Collin Farrell and Anton Yelchin were cast to play Jerry and Charley, thought “Well, maybe it won’t be too bad," and promptly forgot about the movie (due to running around like a headless chicken to prepare for a move).

Until recently.

While in the middle of a Doctor Who marathon, I hopped over to IMDB to check something and saw “Peter Vincent" listed as one of David Tennant's roles.

Now, what I pictured was a manic-and-cowardly-washed-up-actor turned-vampire hunter, in tan trench coat and tie. A sort of mishmash of the 10th Doctor and Roddy McDowell’s Vincent.

What I got, upon Googling, was this... 

Peter Vincent
Looks a bit like the impossible Love-Child of Jack Sparrow and Criss Angel, but I dig it.


To say the least.

But okay, I thought, if they’re going to have David Tennant in eyeliner and leather pants, I definitely have to see this movie.

(Am I that easy to hook? In this case.... Yes. Yes I am.)

So, a few days ago, I snagged a streaming copy and the husband (who I'd made watch the original Fright Night years ago) and I sat down to see what damage had been done.

I was pleasantly surprised.

The remake pays homage to the original but doesn't try to be the original.

The biggest changes are in the characters of Jerry and Peter (and Evil Ed, who’s no longer the kooky sidekick but more of a plot catalyst who helps rush the movie through its opening, which is one of my few complaints).

Jerry Dandridge (2011)
Jerry (Chris Sarandon in the original) went from the proverbial world weary, smooth talking, politely suave vampire to Colin Farrell’s flirtatious, twitchy—and predatory from the get-go—alpha vamp.

And Peter shifted from a sweet and somewhat melancholic washed up actor to a sexy yet vaguely repulsive, and definitely drunken, foul mouthed Las Vegas Master of Illusion and authority on the occult, who’s carting around a lot of emotional baggage.

Both portrayals are on target for the way the remake progresses.

The original Fright Night was part parable (Boy Who Cried Wolf), part vampire seduction story, part response to the genre's turn to masked killer slasher flicks.

The remake is a sleeker, faster, and visually attractive straight-up monster story a la Stephen King: extraordinary and nasty things happening to ordinary people.

This take on the story provided a more animalistic and sadistic villain, got rid of the "vampire's reincarnated lost love" angle (that seemed to be tacked on, willy-nilly, in the original) and gave me some characters who I didn't want to stake for being completely stupid and ineffectual. (That last one doesn't seem to happen often in the horror genre. I always find myself yelling at the screen.)

Do I recommend seeing it? Yes. If you like non-sparkly vampires. If you enjoyed the camp of the original.  (If you're a Tennant fan, I doubt I even need to make a recommendation.)

Oh, and, admittedly, there was one other thing the remake had which the original didn’t.

David Tennant’s hips.


I bow to the saucy, drunken swagger.


L. M. Leffew said...

Over from no mommy hop. Thanks for making my morning with these saucy hips! Have a great weekend

L. M. Leffew said...

 You're very welcome. :) I'm all about sharing the swagger.

Thank you for stopping by.

L. M. Leffew said...

Sounds like the kind of scary movie that I could ACTUALLY watch!  For some reason, I can't do horror.  Except Stephen King.  Which is logical, of course (sarcasm there).  Anyway, it's nice to hear that it didn't turn you completely off!

L. M. Leffew said...

"For some reason, I can't do horror.  Except Stephen King."

That's...a little bizarre. Yeah. :)

I've actually scared myself more with Stephen King short stories (though as far as movies go, IT terrified me as a kid) than I have with anything else in the horror genre. I think King writes in such a way that it feels like you could turn a corner and run smack into whatever creepy-thing he's writing about.

L. M. Leffew said...

I would bow to that drunken swagger too!

L. M. Leffew said...

 I have concurrence! I can tell me husband it's not just me. :)

L. M. Leffew said...

My experience with Nightmare on Elm Street was traumatic; an 11 year old sleepover party, hiding under the blankets most of the time.  I couldn't sleep for weeks!  I'm not a scary movie kind of girl, but I could be convinced to watch those hips :P

Stopped by from the Not Mommy hop.

L. M. Leffew said...

Oh, the over-the-butt dimples! *fans self*

I'm too much of a chicken for scary movies. ;)

L. M. Leffew said...

Thanks for stopping by. :)

I kind of wish I could be scared more often by horror movies. I miss out on that safe-fear, a lot. Granted, every now and then a movie comes along that completely creeps me out. (The Ring....I'm looking at you.)

L. M. Leffew said...

Not going to mention how badass the final showdown is?

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