Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fright Night (2011)

Full disclosure here – I did a review of this film back when it came out in August (check it out here), but as this month I’m moving back and forth through my experiences with the originals and the reimaginings, I feel I’ve got enough to say about the title for this post.

The original Fright Night was one of those rare horror comedies I loved as a kid – they had a few laughs, some great scares and were great “gateway” films for newcomers who might not necessarily like horror. Fright Night was kind of a double treat, as it worked great for newcomers but was filled with horror movie references for the long-time fans of the genre.

The original film involved a kid named Charlie Brewster, who over the course of the movie discovers that his neighbour Jerry is a vampire. The problem? No one believes him, not his friends, family or anyone else. Eventually he goes to a late night cable TV horror host, Peter Vincent (named after Peter Cushing and Vincent Price and played amazingly by Roddy MacDowell) to help him defeat the creature before its too late. The movie mixed comedy and horror incredibly well, including one of my favourite interactions in horror movie history:

Charlie enters his living room, sees Jerry (the vampire) and is obviously startled

Charlie's Mom: Charlie, this is our next door neighbour, Jerry Dandridge

Jerry: Hello Charlie (approaches Charlie and offers his hand)

Charlie's Mom: Well Charlie, shake hands

Charlie: (Obviously shocked) What's he doing here?

Charlie's Mom: I Invited him over for a drink.

Charlie: You what!?!

Charlie's Mom: I invited him over, why?

Jerry: What's the matter Charlie? Afraid I'd never come over without being invited first?

(Jerry and Charlie's mom laugh)

Jerry: You're right, you're quite right, of course now that I've been made welcome I'll probably drop by quite a bit. In fact, any time I feel like it. (Smiling at Charlie's Mom) With your mother's kind permission, of course.

Charlie's Mom: Oh Jerry, any time.

The reimagining of the film made a few significant changes to the story: 1) The story is clearly set in a new suburban development in Las Vegas, rather than a suburb in “Anytown, USA”, 2) Jerry (the vampire) is now played by a younger actor (Colin Farrell), who plays up the dark and sexy aspect, 3) Peter Vincent is now a stage magician, rather than a late night horror host (probably because those don’t really exist anymore) and his look is largely modelled after Criss Angel, 4) The film focuses more on action and atmosphere, rather than the comedic aspects of the original.

In the end I really enjoyed the reimagining. It was a lot of fun, had a nice cameo for fans of the original and although the humour is toned down, it still functions well as a gateway film from mainstream to horror.

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