As a general rule, I don’t care for remakes. Reboots, I fully support, and sequels can be hit or miss, but remakes? Remakes rarely turn out to be a good thing. Which is why the latest trend of 80s remakes has been making my skin crawl.
DEAR GOD, NO.
And this announcement of a Dirty Dancing remake? Literally pains me on a spiritual level. My SOUL hurts when I think about it. So I was more than a little surprised to really, really dig the remake of the 80s horror/camp hit Fright Night (#29).
I have fond memories of the original 1985 version of Fright Night. When I was around ten or so, my dad and I would go through phases where, for a whole week, we’d rent and watch nothing but cheesy (and often awesome) horror films – the original Fright Night, House (With one of my still favourite tag-lines: “Ding dong. You’re dead.”), An American Werewolf in London, the Evil Dead trilogy, the Poltergeist trilogy, etc. Then, we’d grow weary of the constant gore and mayhem, so the following week we’d rent musicals and old school biopics – Cabaret, New York, New York, Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Gene Krupa Story, The Jolson Story, The Glen Miller Story, etc. In retrospect, these week long binges of COMPLETELY opposing film genres may explain a lot about the person I am now and why musicals and horror films always fill me with a certain nostalgic glee… but I digress.
I remember watching the film with my dad and loving it. Though, when I rewatched it earlier this week I found that I remembered very little about it – I knew Chris Sarandon was a vampire, that he moves next door to a kid who’s dating
Marcy D’arcy Amanda Bearse, he kills a bunch of people, Roddy McDowell helps the kids stop him, and to ten-year-old me, it was scary and funny and the sidekick best friend was the best thing EVER. (Note: turns out that ten-year-old me is not a reliable source.) So when I saw they were remaking it I thought, “Really? Is that necessary? Would anyone but me care?” (P.S. Turns out: They didn’t.) But guys, seriously, the movie is actually kind of awesome. And here’s why:
1) Marti Noxon – If you don’t know who Marti Noxon is, you suck. Ok, not really. But kinda. She wrote and produced on Buffy The Vampire Slayer for six years! This lady knows her vampires. She knows how to make them dark and funny and bad-ass; no sparkles for this lady. And when the end credits rolled and I saw “Written by Marti Noxon” on the big screen, I instantly went, “That explains it!” That’s how the remake managed to keep all the best elements of the original, wring out all the cheese, and make the remainder spookier, funnier, and just plain hipper. I’m sorry, the original Fright Night is fun and all, but timeless it ain’t. But Ms. Noxon managed to take everything that made the first film great, and dust it off with some modern updates to make it feel fresh, but still believable – at least, as believable as a film about a vampire can be.
2) David Tennant
Ok, I admit, I’m more than a little biased on this one. David Tennant is my Doctor. He was, is, and always will be the seminal Doctor to me. And I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to take him seriously as anything other than Doctor Who. But holy hell, did he make this movie for me. Swaggering through the film in leather pants, ridiculous hair pieces, and an almost Russell Brand-ian level of inexplicable ego and sexual confidence, he brings a breath of comedy and cheekiness to the film that keeps it from taking itself too seriously.
3) Colin Farrell – I think I have been in love with vampire leading men characters only a few years longer than I’ve been in love with Colin Farrell. So to have my favourite hunky Irishman play a bloodsucker pretty much guaranteed my ass in a theatre seat:
Colin Farrell is the long-since-stopped-beating heart of the film. He plays a vampire the way a vampire is meant to be played: Cold. Ruthless. Sexy. Charming. Deadly. At one point he’s compared to the shark from Jaws and the description couldn’t be more apropos. His Jerry (“Jerry? That’s a terrible name for a vampire. Jerry.”) stealthily stalks around the neighbourhood, watching, waiting, moving with a grace and strength that only a beast could possess. He is not brooding; he is not looking to be saved or redeemed. He wants to eat and drink and watch Real Housewives and be left alone. But he’s not above playing with his prey, as evidenced in a truly tense and delicious scene with Anton Yelchin’s Charley trying to sneak out of his house. Or, my personal favourite, Jerry’s incredibly clever plan to get to Charley and his family: Can’t get in without an invitation? “Don’t need an invitation if there’s no house,” Jerry smirks. Hell yes.
If I had one major complaint about the film, it would be this: 3-FREAKIN-D. Seriously people. This needs to stop. I am not above shelling out extra for the occasional 3D shlockfest (Hey there My Bloody Valentine! Remember me, Piranha 3D? See you soon, Shark Night!), but I tend to get a little irked when:
a) The movie I am watching in darkened glasses takes place almost 80% of the time IN THE DARK. Useless and ill-conceived…
b) The option for a 2D viewing experience is TAKEN AWAY FROM ME. Not cool, Cineplex. If I want to watch a movie that takes place at night WITHOUT tinted glasses, I should be able to. Just saying.
It breaks my heart a little that this film is being considered a flop already. I’m hoping that this is one of those, “word-of-mouth helps it pick up steam” kind of cult classics. Because while it may be the epitome of all that is wrong in Hollywood today – tired remake, vampire movie, 3D – it is actually incredibly well done.