Friday, July 27, 2012

Welcome Back To "Fright Night"

One of my favorite B movies is Fright Night (1985) starring Chris Sarandon as a vampire who moves in next door to teenaged horror film fan Charlie Brewster. As Sarandon puts the bite on some new victims, Charlie (William Ragsdale) tries to convince everyone there’s a real life monster in town, with little success. He enlists the aid of reluctant TV horror film host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) to battle the evil bloodsucker, who has his eyes on Charlie’s girlfriend Amy. It’s a fun film, mixing scares & laughs in equal measure, with great performances from Sarandon & McDowall. The film became something of a cable TV & VHS staple during the 80s & 90s. A not as successful sequel, Fright Night, Part II was released in 1988.

Jump ahead to 2011: a remake was released, also titled Fright Night, starring Colin Farrell as the vampire, and Anton Yelchin (who was featured in 2009’s Star Trek and Terminator: Salvation) as Charlie. This time, instead of a TV horror host, Peter Vincent is a Criss Angel style magician played by David Tennant, best known as the tenth Doctor on the BBC’s Dr. Who. The wonderful Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense) co-stars as Charlie’s Mom; English actress Imogen Poots plays Amy, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Kick-Ass) plays the ill-fated “Evil Ed.” Singer Lisa Loeb plays Ed's Mom, and there’s also a memorable cameo by a member of the original cast.

Farrell’s Jerry Dandridge is much creepier than Sarandon’s, and he brings a darker edge to the part. Tennant has great energy & comic style as Vincent, and Yelchin is effective as the beleaguered Charlie. The well-written script is by prolific television writer/producer Marti Noxon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Mad Men, Glee) and there are some nice visual nods & shout outs to the 1985 film, which was written & directed by Tom Holland. If you’re a fan, you’ll be pleased to see this version has respect for the original, but tells the story a bit differently. Director Craig Gillespie (Lars & The Real Girl) and cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe give the film an interesting look. There are some cool shots in the movie, and the final confrontation between our intrepid heroes & the vampire is well-staged, exciting sequence.

There’s nothing new or earth shaking on display here, but this is a solid little film with some good twists. It’s an enjoyable thriller, mixing the old school & new with effective results. Fright Night (2011) is a safe bet for horror fans that like their scares laced with a bit of black humor. The film was released in 3-D, but I viewed the 2-D version, and it plays just fine in that dimension. It’s now available on Blu-Ray & DVD.

Here are links to the trailer for the 2011 version and just for fun, the 1985 original

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