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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Sep 16, 2011

Fright Night Movie Review

WE THOROUGHLY enjoyed the original version of “Fright Night”, a vastly entertaining modern vampire story combining campy humor and good scares, just like “Lost Boys” then with a young Kiefer Sutherland as the vampire. We can’t believe it’s been 26 years since it was shown in 1985. The new version deviates drastically from the first one as it’s now more action oriented. The basic story is still the same, but there are now many action set pieces that will please action lovers more than horror film fans.

In the original, the hero, Charley (William Ragsdale) is a teen in love with old horror movies shown in “Fright Night”, a TV show featuring vampire films hosted by Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), a name obviously derived from two prominent horror actors in the 60’s, Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. His fondness for vampire films pays off when he discovers that their new next door neighbor (Chris Sarandon, who does a cameo in the remake) is really a vampire, but of course, no one will believe him.

In the remake, the hero is still Charley (former child actor Anton Yelchin), a high school teen living with his mom in a Las Vegas suburb who’s formerly nerdy but now has a hot blonde girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots). A handsome hunk, Jerry (Colin Farrell), moves in next door and Charley’s former dork best friend Ed (Christopher Mints Plasse of “Kickass”) warns him that the guy is a vampire who had already killed one of their friends earlier. Of course, Charley won’t believe it, until he himself sees how Jerry bites Ed. He then asks the help of Peter Vincent to help him kill Jerry.

In the original, it’s Roddy McDowall who runs away with the movie as Peter Vincent, the most cowardly vampire killer ever. This time, Vincent is played by David Tennant (“Dr. Who”) and he’s now a Las Vegas showman with a phoney vampire show. The role has been rewritten so he doesn’t get to shine the way McDowall did then. Chris Sarandon is good as Jerry, but in the remake, Colin Farrell simply oozes menace underneath his charismatic presence in all his scenes. When Charley doesn’t invite him in, he blows up their whole house.

The original also generates more amusement in finding comic relief even in the film’s most tense moments, like telling a good vampire story with a lighter comic book treatment that works. It was such a hit that it generated a sequel, “Fright Night II”, three years later.

The remake is not as successful in attracting viewers at the tills here or abroad since most of the scare tactics used here have already seen in other horror films. It banks heavily on CGI special effects presented in shoddy 3-D and that’s not enough reason to remake an already fine entry in the vampire genre. Honestly, we don’t think the remake can hold a candle to the original, but if you go for action scenes in a horror flick, this movie is for you.