I’m really looking forward to the remake of Fright Night that’s hitting theaters this Friday. I have very fond memories of the original Fright Night, even though over the years I think I’ve let other people’s opinions talk me out of thinking it was very good.
So I was very happy to see that the Egyptian Theatre here in Seattle had the original as a midnight movie this past weekend, so I could see it again to refresh my memory, and I’m really glad I did.
I spent about the first half of the movie thinking that it was pretty good, but just not quite as good as I remembered. The pacing was a bit slow — the movie gets the kind of long build-up that you just don’t see in movies these days. It was occasionally kind of scary, but not that scary. And every now and then, it shows off the limitations of its budget — like when the vampire next door informs our lead character that “I’ve just destroyed your car,” which has happened entirely off-camera, and we just simply never see the car again.
But then when the story reaches its hinge point — when someone other than our lead character finally becomes aware that he’s not crazy, that vampires really do exist — then we’ve reached the top of the roller-coaster, and it’s time to hang on. Everything that happens after that is a very fun ride, often very creepy, often downright scary, never letting you take your eyes off the screen.
Roddy McDowall was just as good in this as I remembered — again, especially in the second half, when his character has a lot more to do than just bluster and be annoyed. Even though his character is very funny, he manages to bring a lot of emotional weight to it, a lot of sadness and fear and awe and determination.
We’ve seen so many vampires in movies over the years that their threat has become a bit diluted — or removed entirely, when vampires are cast as sympathetic. It’s nice to see a story where just two vampires — really, mainly one vampire — are presented as a serious, major, almost unstoppable threat. This is presented as a modern Dracula in many ways, with the vampire as a powerful figure who has invaded your comfortable, normal surroundings, who is a threat not just because of his physical strength, but because he can fascinate — turn your friends against you, lure your loved ones away.
I’d completely forgotten how effective the music in this is. Edgy, sinister, seductive and dark. Even though it is, yes, stylistically dated. If the fact that the music is very much a product of the 80′s is going to bother you, then you’re really going to laugh at some of the fashion choices the costume designer made.
One thing about the “dated” aspect of this movie, though, that really had me nostalgic for the era, was the extensive use of special effects make-up and latex creatures, fake blood and ooze. The remake, I’m sure, replaces all this with state-of-the-art CGI, and to some eyes that’s going to look more “realistic,” but to me, nothing can beat seeing a real, physical object that the actors are really interacting with. Even if I can tell it’s just the product of someone’s hours of sculpting and casting, it still does a better job of convincing me, of grounding me in the story.
I hear the remake is really good, and I definitely want to see it. But I’m glad I took the time to re-watch the original, and I would definitely recommend you do the same.previous post: Twitter Too Constraining? Try Noveller | next post: In The Night Kitchen