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Fright Night (1985)

Written and Directed by Tom Holland

    I remember being so upset when I heard they were coming out with a remake of this film. Not surprised, but it had been this and The Lost Boys that first started my love of vampires films to begin with. Then when I heard Colin Farrell was the lead, I already knew how they were going to go about the film and couldn’t wait, not to see it. But ended up viewing before this review so as to discuss either way. But its simply not worthy of its own review, sorry. Actually, I did find some people who thought the remake was so much better and to that I say, nay; it must be unfortunate to have such taste in film. Now, the whole thing was not a complete bust. Christopher Mintz-Plasse was funny and really what made the movie bearable. As well, I have enjoyed many a films with Toni Collette and Anton Yelchin, so I didn’t mind watching them either. Hey, there’s even a cameo by Chris Sarandon (who was too great to replace) but is killed by well…himself I suppose. But what the frack was going on with Peter Vincent’s character? His image was a cross between Russel Brand and Chris Angel that listened to rap (not initially looking as does in the poster below). Had anyone even seen the promotional posters they came out with as well for the film? I mean…

  Whatever they tried to “improve” on didn’t work for me. I also presume it was released in 3D to explain certain unneeded shots. As well, the humor never seemed humorous and whilst I do admit that the original was a bit cheesy with the character of Ed, at least it wasn’t whatever they tried to bring in new audiences with. The intention with the story being somewhere between “The Boy who Cried Wolf” but with vampires. Simple enough but an old tale that worked well with the creatures of the night I thought. It is just unfortunate that now, I cannot take back the tainted images that I have already seen in the remake. In the original version, we follow William Ragsdale (Charlie Brewster) whose nights seem to be consumed with homework, making out with girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) and watching the great Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) nightly on “Fright Night”. The closest I had to that type of viewing was with Tales From the Crypt; I wish they still made shows in that same manner though (I blame the damn hipsters).

  Though it seems Charlie has his head in the clouds and tends to lose focus on Amy after taking notice of the new neighbors moving in late-night and starting first, with their…coffin? He takes an immediate interest in Jerry (Chris Sarandon) who he at a later day, sees with a woman through his window; taking notice to the oh so obvious fangs adorned. Anytime I see these type of scenes in films, I always find it silly that such would even happen. What kind of killer leaves the window open? The one that wants to get caught. Though it does seem a bit as though it was purposeful in how Jerry looks up at Charlie, almost toying with him. Hearing from his mother the next day that he had a live in carpenter and that with her luck he was gay. His “friend” Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) along with Amy believing him to be nothing more of a loon to suggest such. Resulting in his only other option; finding Mr. Vincent and asking for his help in vanquishing Jerry, the Vampire; has a nice ring to it huh? 

  Though it seems that Charlie had caught Mr. Vincent at his low. His imminent eviction notice, just having been fired; Peter Vincent not even being his real name. “Apparently all they want to see are demented madmen running around in ski-masks, hacking up young virgins.” He later receives a visit from Evil and Amy who had conducted a plan requiring Vincent to have Jerry take a test to show Charlie that he indeed, was no vampire. The whole thing seeming a bit silly until Amy offers 500 out of her savings. The three then calling up “carpenter” Billy (Jonathan Stark) and arranging a meeting for that next day, that it would all be fake, simply to prove a point. So really, they did him a big favor by bringing him to his house when he had been trying to get Charlie alone all along. The next afternoon Peter runs late but assures Charlie that he would only be needing the “holy” water, first having to prove he was who he was thought to be. So what happens if you turn out to be wrong? Once inside it seems Amy is smitten by Jerry’s charm and they share a moment that seems all to real for the malignant spirit, taken back with a familiarity about the woman.

  Hesitant throughout, which I loved that no one noticed or said anything, has satisfied Mr. Vincent as they proceed to say their goodbyes and leave. Billy heeds a warning to the clever boy as Jerry talked up Evil and Amy. Peter finding his mirror almost forgotten about and unsure of what to think next as he holds it up to find everyone present except for Jerry. Dropping it due to fear ends up being what gives him away as Jerry later finds a piece of glass, confirming the old man’s strange behavior as leaving the premise. The two boys walk Amy home, Evil going his own way convinced Charlie needed help and wouldn’t encourage his thinking any longer. A shame in that he practically gives himself when cornered by Jerry who knew what it was like to be different. The two running into a club to escape further wrath but ending up grabbing hold of Amy and making everyone scatter at the sight of doing away with the bouncers ever so effortlessly. This is also about the time Peter decides to start believing in the undead, with help of a late night visit from Evil. The final showdown occurring with the soon to follow cliche, yet expected happy ending.

  **Now I realize that ones taste in movies is subjective. But the remake to this film was a great example of what not to do when remaking something. If you have yet to see the original, I left out plenty, so no worries. And if you ended up preferring the remake to the original then you should just stop here.**

  This was Tom Holland’s directorial debut and later went on to cast Sarandon in Child’s Play. Though no stranger to movies by this point, it was with this film that it seemed others started to take notice of his talent, starring in 4 other personal favorite films of mine. I also liked the cheesy music that would play every time he entered a shot. He held a certain confidence and charm that created a wayy better sex appeal than whatever Farrell did with the role. At best his act was that of a paranoid junkie who consistently was looking around in what seemed as a horrendous attempt to make him appear “mysterious and sexy.” Funny enough is that this was the first vampire movie to use a six digit number concerning special effects and I much prefer old school movies because of the notion of everything being turned into a CGI game of who can fuck up a classic the worst. If anything, Sarandon looked the scariest with just the fangs and contacts because it was his presence that was being sold and that he surly had. I didn’t discuss the little dance number he and Amy put on at the club but it was completely ridicules in a sexy sort of way. As well, once Amy awakes in his house and is bitten; a great shot of the blood is seen dripping down her back.

  Evil does get bitten and in turn becomes one of Jerry’s lemmings. I personally don’t like when vampires turn into wolves in films but tend to overlook when the case is being their masters lapdog’s. Bearse, if I’m being honest, was a bit annoying for the majority of the film. I loved when she turned however and with her longer hair she looked great with the contacts and make-up, the image of her being what I always associated with this film. I also liked that it was something that Vincent and Charlie had to take care of on their own. The reason for stating being that in the remake, the vampire kills off quite a bit of people. He didn’t even have a caretaker; is the town really unaware of all the suddenly missing people? The end scene was ridicules as well, the CGI was made to resemble a shark like face…annd wtf for may I ask? Granted, not many people will love the giant bat that Jerry eventually turns into the original but it was 1985, give me a break. I loved the look when the caretaker is “vanquished” as well, the other major special effects scenes being when Evil transforms back from the wolf into human form. Which wasn’t too bad of a scene, Geoffreys maniacal and crazed version may lose some people but I suppose already liking movies from that era made sense to have those who thought they were funnier than the average guy. He wasn’t. The humor wasn’t outright but it was the genre and its look that I find more appealing than of today’s kids in school. There are clear and obvious reasons of how things have changed in the remake and it doesn’t necessarily make the film better but did quite the opposite. If you haven’t seen this before, a quick bit at the end does leave room for a sequel, which they did make. It wasn’t as strong as the first though and with no Chris Sarandon and silly execution, fell short. At least one installment was able to stand with its head held high.