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"Fright Night" - Ranked Against Other Remakes, a Defense of the 3D Work, Views on Teen Sexuality

By Christopher Campbell | Spout August 22, 2011 at 10:01AM

If you ignored Craig Gillespie's "Fright Night" over the weekend, letting it pretty much die in sixth place, I forgive you. It's an entertaining and much-improved version of Tom Holland's 1985 original, but it's not an immediate must-see title for theater viewing only. And with a lackluster use of 3D, you're better off saving your money anyway if that's your only option. Hopefully you'll catch it at some point down the line. Just bookmark this roundup until you've seen it, if you're worried about spoilers.
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If you ignored Craig Gillespie's "Fright Night" over the weekend, letting it pretty much die in sixth place, I forgive you. It's an entertaining and much-improved version of Tom Holland's 1985 original, but it's not an immediate must-see title for theater viewing only. And with a lackluster use of 3D, you're better off saving your money anyway if that's your only option. Hopefully you'll catch it at some point down the line. Just bookmark this roundup until you've seen it, if you're worried about spoilers.

As for those who did see it, do you agree it's better than its source? Dustin Rowles of Pajiba ranks it at #15 on a list of the '25 Best Remakes of the Last 25 Years.' Right between "Freaky Friday" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," and just below other vampire remakes "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and "Let Me In." Rowles offers no explanation for the placements of each, nor does he necessarily claim these remakes are better than the originals. Still, "Conan the Barbarian" didn't make the list, nor did any of the year's other rehashes except for Miike's "13 Assassins," so I guess that's an achievement.

More links, readings and two new clips from the film after the jump.


While most of us found the 3D aspect of "Fright Night" to be its main problem, Cinema Blend's Josh Tyler breaks its employment down in technical bullet points, concluding that if it weren't such a dark film it "could easily have been one of the best 3D experiences of the year." He still seems to say it's worth it based on his score. Here's a defense for what it subtly achieves in the screen-popping department:

Before the Window
3D can also be used to create the illusion that objects projected on to the screen actually extend beyond it. Fright Night makes a real effort to utilize all aspects of 3D technology and does a fair job of attempting this. In particular there’s a scene where burning ashes float in front of the camera that will really wow you, but it tries to make uses of 3D’s ability to extend beyond the screen throughout its running time. We’re not talking gimmicky scenes where a character throws stuff at the audience while winking at the camera, but rather something that just happens naturally in the course of the action. Things swing past the camera lens, explosions extend just a little further than they wood in another film. It’s rarely overt and pretty well done. In some cases they’re limited by budget and the computer generated effects used to accomplish this are obvious, but in others it’s almost seamless. Well done.


Over at Movies.com, Peter Hall offers a defense
of the movie as being refreshing and worthy of your time, calling it "a modern story about what it’s like to be a man today"..."when everyone else is trying to be a bro." From his reading:

Charley Brewster is a once geeky high schooler who is finally coming into good looks and earning the attention of a very attractive girl (Imogen Poots) who wants to take his virginity, which in turn causes him to turn his back on his best friend, Ed. Amidst this, Jerry, a handsome man’s man moves in next door. Brewster sees Jerry not as a physical threat, but a sexual one. He’s caught the eye of both his girlfriend and his single mother, though in a very welcome change of pace, Noxon doesn’t write Toni Collette as a desperate single mother who reverts into a willing school girl for Farrell; she’s an experienced, confident woman who sees him purely as a sexual object while recognizing that he’s just a womanizer not worth her time (I love that the movie even has fun with how pathetic the alpha male show is behind close doors by having Jerry take a bit to fully get his fangs up when going down on the neighboor dancer).


But Melissa Maerz at EW's PopWatch sees the remake being a little more "old-fashioned" while reading the 1985 original as the more interesting take on Jerry's threat to Charley's sexuality and manhood. On the new film, which she likens more to the chastity of "Twilight" and the anti-drug mentality of an after school special:

the new Fright Night is way more traditional in its values. This time, it focuses on Charley’s changing friendship with Evil Ed, his best friend from childhood, and his attempts to save his single mom (Toni Collette) from making bad choices with the bad boy next door. Amy (Imogen Poots) is still around, but Charley’s the one who’s the virgin. And the more time he spends hunting down Jerry, the less interested he is in sex, always pulling away from Amy in order to watch Jerry from his bedroom window. When Amy accuses him of not wanting to touch her, he breaks up with her, explaining, “I don’t want you to get hurt.” [...] If teen sex is verboten in this movie, drugs are way worse, especially out there in Sin City, where everyone’s a vampire, staying up all night and keeping their shades drawn during the day. Apparently, the only thing that can turn you into a vampire quicker than getting bitten is getting high.


More support for the significance of the original comes from Ted Douglass at The Stranger (via Mubi) -- enough that I don't quite get why he praises the remake so much.

It signaled a change in the way vampires would be portrayed in pop culture forever. That might seem a bit hyperbolic, but it's true: Fright Night was the first remotely successful horror flick to feature characters that lived in a world where vampires previously existed in fiction. Much like those in Scream a decade later, Fright Night's characters acknowledged and adhered to a preexisting set of rules they had learned from the movies. It was a precursor to The Lost Boys, Buffy, and Robert Pattinson's stupid weepy face.


Also a precursor to "From Dusk Till Dawn," which acts like it was the first movie to be so reflexively hip.

For a roundup of responses to the dismal box office take of "Fright Night" and other new films over the weekend, check out my latest Conversation piece over at Movies.com. Is this further proof that Hollywood needs to cool it on the 3D?


Send tips on other interesting articles and blog posts related to "Fright Night" to spouttips AT gmail.


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This article is related to: Remakes





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