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Monday 10 October 2011

Burl reviews Fright Night! (2011)

Ha ha! That’s right, it’s Burl talking! As I write, it’s one of my favorite seasons of the year: the time of the late-summer horror releases! For years, Hollywood seems to have held a couple of horror movies in reserve for August, and this year is no exception! Back in August of 1985, the original Fright Night came out, and now, following that pattern twenty-six years later, a new remake comes along! In 3-D, ha ha!

Of course there have been some changes made! The original took place in a kind of Spielbergy back-lot neighborhood, like in The ‘burbs, and this one takes place in more of a Spielbergy tract-home neighborhood, like in Poltergeist: a little square in the middle of the desert that seems like some sort of drunken city planner’s error! The bright lights of Vegas are not far away from this benighted place, but you have to drive through a stretch of dark desert to get there, and so there is a distinct sense of isolation patrolling the streets of the drab sub-suburb!

And of course isolation is the last thing you want when a vampire named Jerry moves next door, as happens to poor Charlie Brewster! His ex-pal Evil Ed, who is less of an outrageously h*moer*tic monster enthusiast and more of a straight-up nerd in this version, is the first one to twig to the presence of the fiendish hemogobbler, but all his attempts to persuade his now-cool buddy Charlie of Count Jerry’s evil intentions come to naught!

Some restructuring of the plot and incidents means that we get significantly less Evil Ed in this version than in the original, and now that I think of it, I don’t even know if he is referred to as “Evil” in the new one! That would be a bit of a loss, but also in keeping with what I see as the deficiencies of this remake! A guy who was a horror fan in the original is now a garden-variety nerd; the horror star whom the hero turns to for vamp-killing help in the original is now a cheeseball Vegas magician! But while I decry these alterations in the severest terms, I can also understand why they had to be made! In 1985 Peter Cushing was still walking around, and Vincent Price and John Carradine too – all the great second-wave horror stars! But who would you plausibly model such a character on today? Robert Englund? Tony Todd? Those guys are great, but they don’t know anything about vampires! Ha ha, it’s not like you’re going to ask the cast of those Twilight movies, which aren’t worth a cruickshank if you ask me!

So while I’d like to say that the changes in this new version of Fright Night don’t amount to a butterberry, I just can’t condemn them too much! For the most part the movie is a solid and entertaining bit of disposable summer cinema and a worthy successor to a movie that is itself pleasant enough – and a personal favorite, ha ha! –  but no world-beater! I give it two and a half sharpened Century 21 signs! It’s a pretty good night out, so go on and give it a try!

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