The first thing that always comes to mind when I think of the FRIGHT NIGHT (2011) remake is that I love the cast. Anton Yelchin, Colin Farell, Toni Colette, and David Tennant, superb choices. Yes, I’m that one-in-one-thousand people that like Colin Farell (really interested to see how he is in the second season of TRUE DETECTIVE, but sadly I don’t have HBO). Toni Colette and Anton Yelchin both starred in Showtime series (Yelchin as the son in HUFF, and Colette in THE UNITED STATES OF TARA), Yelchin is also in the rebooted STAR TREK franchise as Chekov. So even though I knew I was seeing a FRIGHT NIGHT (2011) remake, I was consoled by the names in it. Although, as we all should know by now, a great cast does not automatically mean a great movie. While FRIGHT NIGHT (2011) isn’t groundbreaking or astounding, but it’s far from belonging in the same category as crap remakes over the last fifteen years.
I’m a big fan of the original (which was released 30 years ago as of this year), saw it dozens of times when I was a kid because they played it on TNT’s Monstervision and USA’s Up All Night constantly. I never tired of it though. It was fun, comedic, and in some parts, terrifying. The 2011 remake gets the fun and the comedy, but there was no real terror to be had out of it.
However, the thing that impressed me most about the remake was how it was definitely a remake, and it was the same as the original, it also was able to be completely different. From everything about the character of Peter Vincent, to the sequence of events (like when the best friend character is turned into a vampire, how the new script relies much heavier on the character of the mother, etc.) It felt new, but it also felt familiar in a comfortable way. A lot of FRIGHT NIGHT (2011) is things that build upon the foundation of the original film. This is a great example of how and why to do a remake. If you can switch stuff up, modernize the original, reveal more about the characters, don’t do it shot-for-shot (I’m looking at you, Gus Van Sant). If you can do all those things you have a strong case for remaking something in the horror genre, unfortunately next to nobody follows those rules as is abundantly apparent in at least 85% of horror remakes over the last 15 years.
I had always heard that the original film took on a bit of a homoerotic tone, however, I just got done re-watching it and I have to confess that I don’t really see it, other than the character of Evil Ed (who, funnily enough, actually went on to be a gay porn star for a while) MAYBE being gay, I don’t really see the proof in it. However, when I watch the remake, I can see several things that might make one feel it has tones of homoeroticism. The thing that stands out like a sore thumb is how Jerry, the vampire, plays with Charley (our neighboring protagonist) throughout the entire film, messing with him and—at times—doing evil specifically to show off to Charley how great he is. It almost seems that everything Jerry does is for Charley, especially the scene towards the end of the film when he’s biting/making out with Charley’s girlfriend, Jerry keeps looking at Charley. Jerry is—other than the vampire thing—kind of a creeper in the remake. Whereas in the original he desires to simply off Charley as quickly as possible because Charley found out he was a vampire. There’s a sense of messed up seduction between the two characters in the remake that didn’t exist in the original. Just my opinion, I could be wrong.
FRIGHT NIGHT (2011) is just as good as the original it’s based on. It doesn’t bore me by trying to follow the same basic structure as the original, it mixes it up in exciting ways. Which is why I enjoy this movie as much as I do, and therefore why I own it. But be warned, there is a direct-to-dvd sequel…but it’s not really a sequel at all. Get this, it’s actually ANOTHER remake of the original film, but this time with a female in the role of Jerry. I remember watching it and thinking how ridiculous the very premise was. It was also terrible, but I’m more hung up on how it’s a remake of a remake, so weird.
My suggestion, since they’re the same but very different, watch both the original and the remake, make a night of it, a ‘fright night’. Bwa ha ha!!! Terrible wordplay on my part.