Fright Night

Beware vampires named Jerry...

“That is a terrible vampire name. Jerry?” – Charley Brewster

The original Fright Night (1985) is one of the greatest vampire movies of all time. A teenager named Charlie suspects his next door neighbor Jerry is a vampire but no one believes him. While trying to prove his claim he finds himself in over his head and seeks the aid of Peter Vincent, host of Fright Night. Somehow the pair manages to destroy Jerry the evil vampire and save the neighborhood. The concept is pretty simple but the execution is what made this such a great vampire movie. The film draws as much inspiration from old horror movies as it does from the modern cinema of the 1980s. The movie is smart and terrifying while also being equally humorous in healthy doses. Tom Holland made a masterpiece. Anyone daring to produce a remake was taking a very big gamble because the original set a very high bar.

So when I learned about the remake to be released in August of 2011 I was both excited and scared at the same time. I got a little worried when I learned Craig Gillespie was going to direct, a man I knew nothing about and early investigation he had spent most of sixteen years directing commercials with a few other films I had never heard of. I am not against giving mostly unknown directors a shot at big movies but I was nervous about Hollywood giving him a chance on a movie like this one.

Marti Noxon was the saving grace who encouraged me to keep an eye on this film and really give it a chance. Her resume as a producer and writer is a long and distinguished one including such popular shows as Glee, Madmen, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Those last two are what gave me the most hope.

As the cast became known to me I knew the movie was heading in the right direction. Anton Yelchin (Charley Brewster) has been acting for quite some time but I was most familiar with his work in Star Trek (2009) as Chekov and Terminator Salvation (2009) as Kyle Reese. Collin Farrell (Jerry) is well known to most movie goers and Toni Collette (Jane Brewster) was a great addition to the cast. Imogen Poots (Amy) was excellent in 28 Weeks Later (2007) and she is the kind of actress that I think should do more work in the horror genre. I was even happy to learn that Chris Sarandon was going to make an appearance in the movie which makes him the only actor to appear in all three Fright Night movies (he appears in flashback scenes in the second one). And last but not least I believe David Tennant was a brilliant choice to play Peter Vincent.

They had all the right pieces to make a great movie but did they accomplish their goal? I think they did.

Fight Night (2011) does an incredible job of capturing the feel of the original movie while updating it to the 21st century. The vampires in this movie are sexy and terrifying at the same time. Unlike the original Peter Vincent (his name is a play on famous actors Peter Cushing and Vincent Price for those who don’t know) who would fit perfectly well in any Hammer film the new Peter Vincent looks more like Criss Angel, the pop icon of modern magic and illusion (or “bullshit” as Peter puts it in the movie). The movie did an excellent job of capturing the essence of “teens” today without falling into the trap of too much angst or melodrama. The writing did not disappoint and the special effects were quite excellent.

The movie also does an excellent job of establishing itself as a different kind of vampire movie when compared to the current status quo for vampires in movies and television (Twilight, The Vampire Diaries). While Fright Night‘s vampires are more than capable of seducing their victims they are more likely to fang out and start ripping their victims to shreds. The movie takes an early shot at Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series as Edd and Charley search for their lost friend Adam when Edd gets mad that Charley would even imply that he had read those books. I also could not help but notice the vampire Jerry had a love for apples but only the green kind, not the bright red ones which appear on the covers of Meyer’s books.

The new Fright Night not only managed to live up to the original but I feel it improved on the franchise because it updated the story for new generations of movie goers. If Hollywood stops now I am a happy horror movie fan but if they announce a Fright Night Part 2 remake I will be the first in line to see it as well.