I have been catching up with a couple of modern horror remake movies over the last couple of days and the first one was this new take on the cult 80’s comedy horror Fright Night from 1985. It stood apart from many other horrors at the time for being knowingly aware of the genre and twisting the vampire myth into modern America slightly, with great heavy latex FX work and wacky geek side-kick character ‘Evil Ed. The other big deal making it memorable was the inclusion of science fiction and B-movie legend Roddy McDowall as bumbling ‘vampire hunter’ Peter Vincent.
So while with this remake there was not the heavy and serious concern of not fully capturing the intense scares and horror because the original was not a straight classic horror such as Exorcist or Texas Chainsaw… here I wanted to hopefully see the balance of creepy atmosphere, chills and jumps mixed well with the camp humour and horror references.
It has been out for a couple of years now, long enough for a cheap sequel to go out on dvd, and I had already heard about this remake, and read the reviews on release. Time has passed but I still needed to see what they had done with the movie.
It looks big enough budget, there are great panning camera shots, we are given actors like Toni Collette, and a couple of new young teen actors including Imogen Poots as the beautiful girlfriend. Current cult favourite geek star actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse takes the role of Evil Ed as his own.
Soon enough along comes Colin Farrell, huge Hollywood hunk as next-door neighbour vampire Jerry. I think that was where I remembered that he may have been one of the problems that I had when it came out. I have not always thought Farrell was a very great actor, just often in the simialr position as Keanu Reeves as good looking male actor but lacking serious ability. More recently he has impressed me in a few movies and so here he is, fangs and charm.
Does it assume that we all have seen or know of the original movie? It makes casual nods to it gradually, and Farrell slowly begins to manipulate young Charley and his mum Jane, while Ed is concerned about the increasing number of local kids missing from school. Ed gets it in the neck from Farrell earlier than expected, which seemed a real disappointment but knowing the actor, I did guess he would return later.
The film then moves along slowly, some of the spark gone, until after Farrell finally goes all vampire wild, chasing the family in their car. It all gets serious, and Charley needs real help. Enter David Tennant.
Yes our very own lovable, charming mad dandy DrWho star hits the big screen here, actually spoofing another Brit dandy-Russell Brand in an exagerrated way, as he plays the Roddy McDowall rold of Peter Vincent, Vampire Hunter.
With Tennant on screen and teamed with the young male lead, things pick up speed again, and all kinds of elaborate mad gothic props and set-pieces enter the action. The laughs and jokes come on quick and steady thankfully, as Tennant manages to help take the known old ‘teens in peril’ horror plot to a conclusion in wild overblown style.
With earlier fear that possibly David Tennant might not have transitioned to big screen successfully, now I think I would actually really want to see him as lead in more bizarre genre films. In the final act we get some fantastic action sequences, great gasps and howls from Tennant as the vampires clamber and slither around them, and a great visual explosive last sequence with flames and screams galore.
It might slow down toward the middle with uneven pace, but overall this is great ghoulish cinematic fun.