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Nordling Says FRIGHT NIGHT Doesn't Bite!

Nordling here.

Seeing the new FRIGHT NIGHT and then seeing the original again a couple of days later at the Graveyard Shift was interesting, comparing and contrasting the two.  If you want to know which film is better, I'll save you the suspense - the original's the better film.  There's a tragic aspect to Chris Sarandon's performance, and of course there's Stephen Geoffreys as Evil Ed, who if the character hadn't turned into a vampire would have probably met his end in some weird autoerotic asphyxiation accident.  There's a sexual vibe to the original that the new film just doesn't have - the 1980s, for better or worse, were just a different time than now.  We're far more sanitized when it comes to sex these days.  The original FRIGHT NIGHT pays much respect to the Hammer vampire films but we've come a long way since then - thanks to TWILIGHT, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, and TRUE BLOOD, in a way they've defanged the vampire a lot since the original was made.

That's not to say that the new one isn't worth watching - it is.  It's quite fun to see Colin Farrell play the shark in JAWS (Marti Noxon's take on the character) as an absolute remorseless predator, a vampire who isn't complicated by the gooey things.  He feeds, toys with his victims, and Farrell really seems to be having a lot of fun with the part.  Same for David Tennant as Peter Vincent, in Roddy McDowall's role.  McDowall played Vincent as a washed-up Vincent Price character - Tennant plays Vincent as a Criss Angel type of Vegas huckster, who because of past experiences turned a childhood obsession into a sell-out career.  The performances across the board are good, and the film surprises in a lot of ways.  FRIGHT NIGHT takes the basic plot template - young teen Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) begins to suspect that his next door neighbor is a vampire and rallies to save his girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots) before she is consumed by the forces of darkness.  As I said before, it's a different world we live in now, and the problems of a teen in the 1980s aren't the same.

The new film is set in Las Vegas, and that's a fairly genius addition to the story.  Many of the houses are already abandoned due to the Great Recession, and if a vampire were to set up shop Vegas would be the best of all possible worlds to do it in.  Charley has come into his own as a teenager - he's got the hot girl, new friends, and if he can just get rid of this annoying Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who won't leave him alone, he's all set.  Ed and Charley were friends since childhood, but as happens to so many of us, they grew apart, and Charley is no longer interested in the things Ed is interested in.  When a mutual childhood friend goes missing, Ed suspects Charley's new neighbor, Jerry Dandrige (Colin Ferrell), and Charley's mom (Toni Collette) has already taken a liking to him.  But Charley will have none of it.  It's only when Ed himself goes missing that Charley must deal with the truth - Jerry Dandrige is one of the undead, and if he can't get the help of Peter Vincent (David Tennant) everything Charley knows is in danger.

Yelchin plays Charley as a young man conflicted and unsure of his place in the world, and once events start unfolding he must take the initiative and try to stop what is happening.  What's especially fun is how Marti Noxon as the screenwriter tries to skirt the rules of vampirism - one of my favorite scenes is how Dandrige, denied access to the Brewster house because he wasn't invited, gets around that particular vampire weakness.  Farrell is both funny and scary as Dandrige, and he plays the part completely differently than Chris Sarandon played him.  Sarandon's take on Dandrige was decidedly Hammer old school, but we're savvy to vampires now and Farrell's Dandrige lives in a world of glittery, mopey vampires and he plays that to his advantage. 

I normally like Christopher Mintz-Plasse and he does the best with what he has, but this iteration of Ed simply isn't as interesting as the original.  In this one, Ed's a hopeless geek and when it strains his relationship with Charley it's fairly predictable to see how it ends.  The film doesn't flinch on the gore for the most part, but the film is strangely sexless - there was eroticism in the original and that's almost completely gone now.  If you've seen the original you know why Dandrige wants Amy so badly but in this one she's just another victim.

I must devote some time in talking about the 3D.  Simply put, the 3D of FRIGHT NIGHT is abysmally bad.  80% of the film takes place either at night or in darkened rooms, and frankly with the 3D you can't see anything.  It's all blobs hitting other blobs.  I took off my glasses quite a bit just to see what was going on much of the time.  It's one of the worst 3D conversions I've seen, and if this wasn't a conversion, those cameras were utterly wasted.  I hated the 3D and I urge you that if you're going to see it don't pony up the extra cash and just see it in good old-fashioned 2D.

FRIGHT NIGHT pays respect to the original in a lot of ways and although I still prefer the original there's enough new and interesting stuff here that I can recommend it.  It pulls punches, but most every horror film made by a major studio does these days and there are performances to savor here and enjoy.  FRIGHT NIGHT isn't anyone's idea of a horror classic but it's still got a lot to offer and it's better than it probably had to be.

Nordling, out.

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 19, 2011, 7:43 a.m. CST

    First Bitches

    by corplhicks

    I still will see it knowing all this.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 7:44 a.m. CST

    Couldn't agree more about the 3D

    by barnaby jones

    The film however was just as bad

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 7:56 a.m. CST

    Wanna take my 12 year old son to see it this weekend

    by steve

    But not sure whether to show him the original first. Hmmmm. It's True Grit all over again.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 7:57 a.m. CST

    Looking forward to this

    by Col. Tigh-Fighter

    Guess I must re-watch the original again

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 8:18 a.m. CST

    Finally, somebody who knows the difference...

    by AllThosePowers

    ...between original and remake and can disntguish between bad and good. Thank you Nordling, perhaps you can impart some of your wisdom on your fellow reviewers who have all obvisouly had their prostates inspected repeatedly by the studios and from the positive reviews they've written about the remake, it's clear that Harry and co each had throughly enjoyed the experience of their rectums being turned inside out

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 8:32 a.m. CST

    Good review thanks !

    by corplhicks

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 8:42 a.m. CST

    *We're far more sanitized when it comes to sex these days*

    by Shut the Fuck up Donny

    Really? Coulda fooled me.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 8:45 a.m. CST

    Oh hell, here we go....

    by LLcruize2

    Since Nordling is the only negative review, the little mocking bird bitches are coming out to hail it as the only true opinion. Geez folks, get a damn grip. If you want to see the mutha trucker, see it, don't let one review turn you off of it. BTW, not only is Nordling in the minority here, he is in the minority throughout the overall critic community. Do we have to really get the cliched hailing of a negative review as the only true critical representation of a film being good or bad? Damn this place stinks of sheep's wool.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 9:03 a.m. CST

    Fuck, why can't they make The Godfather in 3D instead of this shit.

    by Simpsonian

    All the classics are limited to two dimensions! It's NOT FAIR!!!!!

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 9:16 a.m. CST

    This isn't a negative review

    by D.Vader

    If it were, the title would have been "Fright Night BITES!"

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 9:17 a.m. CST

    Though to be fair

    by D.Vader

    Saying something "has bite" implies its mean and nasty. But saying something "bites" means it sucks. And God help me, both are vampire puns.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 9:18 a.m. CST

    I don't think we're more sanitized today...

    by kidicarus

    But our mainstream movies are definitely a lot less risky. Probably because production budgets have ballooned so monstrously execs don't want to take any chances.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 9:21 a.m. CST

    For an alternate take...

    by Tim Kelly

    Not so alternate actually, I think Nordling is pretty dead on here:

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 9:23 a.m. CST

    Good Review

    by Ryan

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 9:29 a.m. CST

    Saw it last week

    by slone13

    It's just not a good movie at all.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 9:31 a.m. CST

    Filmed in 3D

    by theBigE

    This was filmed in 3D - they have not been advertising it as such. <p> I avoid every 3D movie I possibly can, unless I think it'll help the experience, which is rare since Avatar. Transformers was the only thing I've seen in 3D this year.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 9:33 a.m. CST

    The 3D

    by Tim Kelly

    Is just awful. That, and the stupid script, ruin it. Still not convinced it needed to exist.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 10:21 a.m. CST

    Can't they please just remake Vampire$

    by Fawst

    You know, actually use the book as the launching pad instead of just taking some ideas from it? That movie was a pitiful version of a great story, one that certainly could have continued as a franchise for a few films. Of course, now in a post-True Blood/Twilight world, there's no real place for it. *sigh*

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 10:32 a.m. CST

    Boobs in the 80's

    by Shaun1138

    I am 36 and when I watched all genres of films in the 80's they always had tits. It didn't matter if it was Revenge of the Nerds or 9 1/2 Weeks. The films today don't have tits, and that is partly to making most films PG-13 to rake in as many bucks as it can. I don't blame the studios for making money because they always hit us with the "unrated" dvd that usually is just the R rates cut with tits. I for one havent seen any of the remakes in the last 5 years of cinema except for "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" which was the best film of the year for the genre as far as I stand. But hitting a remake out of the park just doesn't seen to work, just compare box office numbers to the original and adjust for inflation. Once again I loved the original Fright Night as a kid and even if it doesn't hold up today ( Havent watched it since I was in my early teens ) I will keep the memories of my child hood intact and pass on this one. Cheers!

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 10:33 a.m. CST

    LOL @ People who like to claim FIRST

    by doom master

    At least say something INTERESTING instead of just FIRST, otherwise people just ignore your post... DUH

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 10:34 a.m. CST


    by doom master

    Nice Companion Piece to this remake film - both are in desert settings both are modern. And Jack Crow kicks major ass...

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 10:35 a.m. CST

    fawst........dead on about Vampire$

    by thelordofhell

    I was told a story by the author of the book about his set visit to the film and having James Woods tell him point blank, "I wish we were shooting your book instead of this."

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 12:16 p.m. CST

    There are no tits in this one...

    by Flames gotta Eat

    FAIL. And I agree the most with Nordling on this site, his review is the most accurate folks. Go in with reasonable expectations if you're seeing it.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 12:53 p.m. CST

    Original film

    by purplemonkeydw

    Sorry, can't make it past the opening of this article. I've always thought the original in a 'so bad it's good' kind of way. Hope the new one is good, has the cast for it.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 1:52 p.m. CST

    How has TRUE BLOOD helped defang Vampires?!

    by Green

    I can see how you might say that about TWILIGHT or BUFFY, but TRUE BLOOD is in a completely different league. That series is dripping with sex, violence and some truly horrific vampire action. It out-hammers Hammer.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 1:57 p.m. CST

    VAMPIRES the movie vs. the book

    by Green

    I wish they'd stuck closer to the book. THAT was a cool read. None of the bullshit about a vampire plot to find away to stay out during the day (I can't remember if they stole that from BLADE or that movie was pre-BLADE). The original story really captures how utterly powerful and sadistic these creatures are. And Jack Crow is easily 100 times the bad-ass James Woods was in the film. He also had a tragic dimension which made the story actually emotional between the various blood-lettings.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 2:16 p.m. CST

    True Blood and Defanging the Vampire

    by Andrew

    I have to agree with thenewcastleincident. True Blood is mostly sex and violence and in no way does it participate in "defanging" vampires. I think it gets unfairly grouped in with Twilight because of the subject matter, but the two are very different things. I'll even defend Buffy, which had some hard core moments. It was after all, a TV show that was limited in what it could do. It wasn't like HBO, where they can do whatever they want.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 5:07 p.m. CST

    Who's the hot redhead vamp/waitress in True Blood?

    by Orbots Commander

    I caught an episode the other night, and I was smitten.

  • Aug. 19, 2011, 6:13 p.m. CST


    by Andrew

    That's Deborah Ann Moll. Totally agree, she's hot.

  • Aug. 20, 2011, 2 a.m. CST

    Using the phrase "popcorn movie" = plant.

    by Dennis_Moore

  • Aug. 20, 2011, 2:08 a.m. CST

    Re: VAMPIRE$

    by Droogie Alex

    Also wish they'd stuck more to the book; they had the tools to do it. The scenes in the book between Jack Crow and the Pope are amazing.

  • Aug. 20, 2011, 10:34 a.m. CST

    Sex is nastier today!

    by BuffyFaithtribyeah

    What are you talkin about!