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WGUC Reviews

Fright Night 3-D

Fright Night 3-D
Rated R
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas

Just when it seems like another remake of a not-that-old film is a really bad idea, it turns out to be a really good film. Assuming of course you like horror films. The film is Fright Night, and is a remake of the 1985 film of the same title that is a big favorite of film fans who grew up in the 1980s. I haven’t seen the original since its first release, but from what I do recall, there’s not that much that’s been changed.

Our teenage hero Charley Brewster, who’s more than slightly nerdy, lives with his divorced mother in the suburbs and is smitten with the high school hottie, Amy. Charley and his friend Ed unearth the blood-curdling news that Charley’s new next-door neighbor is a vampire. The premise is that simple, and the bulk of the film is focused on what Charlie should do, and how he should do it.

In the original version, Fright Night was the name of a late-night TV horror movie show hosted by Peter Vincent. Roddy McDowall as the aging thespian, who also could be counted on to offer expert advice on vampires, played Vincent with great flair. In the new version, this character has been changed to a David Copperfield-style magician who offers up his act in a Las Vegas casino. At first, the thought of that change bothered me, but after discussion with others, I realized that the weekly TV horror movie host has, unfortunately, pretty much gone in the same direction as 8-track tapes, and current audiences would not relate. The new incarnation of Peter Vincent, played by David Tennant, is more reminiscent of Russell Brand than Roddy McDowall, but he is fine in the role. The rest of the new cast is equally good.

Anton Yelchin, from the 2009 Star Trek film, where he played Ensign Chekov, is fine as Charley. Christopher Mintz-Plasse covers his friend Ed, known as Evil Ed in the original. It would be easy for him to become typecast as the nerdy sidekick, but he’s capable of better than that. Oscar-nominated Australian actress Toni Collette is Charley’s mother, and British newcomer Imogen Poots, who bears a striking resemblance to an eighteen-year-old Kate Winslet, plays the necessary love interest, Amy. Oh… yeah… the vampire of our tale. In 1985 Chris Sarandon, who was terrific, played Jerry the Vampire. In 2011, Colin Farrell, who is just as terrific, now does Jerry. He’s not your grandmother’s Dracula, he’s just a mean, menacing, feasting machine out for his next meal.

Another nice surprise here is the score by Ramin Djawadi who scored the first Iron Man movie. It’s appropriately symphonic with more than a nod of appreciation to the work of Bernard Herrmann.

This is only the third film for director Craig Gillespie, who made his debut with the cult fave Lars And The Real Girl. He handles the action well, and creates some terrific visuals. Yes, there is quite a bit of blood and gore and dismemberment, since it is, after all, a horror film. And it’s all quite effective as seen in 3-D. Of course, there are a couple of the usual things thrown at the camera, but a lot of the 3-D is used for special effects that seem to float out into the audience. In this instance, the 3-D process is quite effective.

Another point of appreciation is that the new filmmakers didn’t dismember the original to do the update. It’s a do-over, but it’s not dumbed down, or changed to be unrecognizable. Fright Night is great time at the movies for fans of the genre.

The R-rated Fright Night is now staked out at a theatre near you, and some of them offer it in 3-D, which is worth the upcharge.


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