14 February 2015

Vampire Day Soiree: The FRIGHT NIGHT Films

Haven't participated in a proper blogfest in quite some time, and since I had no idea for any Valentine-themed posts, mostly because I already did my share of Valentine Horror Reviews (here, here, here, here and here), I thought joining Holly's Horrorland's 4th Annual Vampire's Day Soiree is the perfect opportunity to do a frightful quadruple-feature-review about the fang-bulous "Fright Night" franchise. Yes, there are four of them and at least three of them are very watchable

Enjoy reading and Happy Valentine! :-)




FRIGHT NIGHT
 
German Title:
Die rabenschwarze Nacht - Fright Night

USA, 1985
Director: Tom Holland

10/10









After the massive popularity of Vampire-/Dracula-themed films in the late 50s,
the 60s, and the early 70s, the vampire-genre faltered after the unexpected success of religion-themed horror films like "The Exorcist" (1973) or "The Omen" (1976). In 1978, John Carpenter's "Halloween" kickstarted the slasher genre while George A. Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" revived the zombie genre - both movies/genres killed the audiences' interest in bloodsuckers and for the greater part of the 80s, theaters were ruled by masked maniacs and rotting corpses,
at least in terms of Horror.


Then in 1985, writer/director Tom Holland ("Child's Play") came along and single-handedly reanimated AND revolutionized the vampire genre with the uber-amazing horror-comedy "Fright Night", one of the greatest and most entertaining vampire-themed movies of all time, following teenage horror/vampire-fan Charlie Brewster who realizes that his new next door neighbor is actually a blood-hungry vampire. Since nobody believes him, he teams up with an elderly actor who once played a Van-Helsing-like vampire killer and together, they try to erase
the bloodsucking danger...

I have no idea how often I've watched this movie in my entire life. 20 times? 30 times? I have no idea, and I don't care. "Fright Night" is one of these all-time favorites I could watch over and over without ever getting tired of it. It's a fang-tastic movie, fabulously written, flawlessly directed, at times incredibly suspenseful, at times stunningly creepy, but most of the time so fucking hilarious, it makes me laugh just thinking about it.
 

It was the first vampire film that spent one million dollars on effects - and you can totally see that: it's packed with excellently developed and splendid-looking special / make-up effects, as well as amazing vampire-to-werewolf transformations. Also: brilliant production design, a glorious synth score by the great Brad Fiedel ("Terminator 1+2"), awesome cinematography by Jan Kiesser ("Beowulf & Grendel"), and shitloads of remarkable, unforgettable scenes, like the infamous "dance sequence" or the final battle in the basement.

Best of all: the perfect cast, consisting of William Ragsdale as horror geek Charley Brewster ("Where do you keep your coffin? Or do you have more than one?"), Stephen Geoffreys as the ridicuously amusing Evil Ed ("Oh, you're so COOL, Brewster!" / "Kill me! Kill me, Charley... before I turn into a vampire and... GIVE YOU A HICKEY!!"), the legendary Roddy McDowall as "Peter Vincent, the great vampire killer" ("Back, spawn of Satan!" / "Nobody wants to see vampire killers anymore, or vampires either. Apparently all they want to see are demented madmen running around in ski-masks, hacking up young virgins."), and Chris Sarandon as super-cool, and wonderfully charming vampire Jerry Dandrige ("Welcome to Fright Night. For real." / "Mr Vincent. I've seen all of your films. And I found them... very amusing!"). Also worth mentioning: Amanda 'Marcy' Bearse as Charley's girlfriend and Jonathan Stark as Dandrige's daytime protector.


As much as I love "The Lost Boys" or "Near Dark"... I can't help it: I love "Fright Night" the most; an unbelievable and unbeatable masterpiece!



FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2

German Titles:
Mein Nachbar, der Vampir / Fright Night II - Mein Nachbar der Vampir

USA, 1988
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace

8/10








The unexpectedly huge success of "Fright Night" (second highest-grossing horror film of 1985) led to the making of a sequel - unfortunately one that was doomed from the start, involving a drastically slashed budget (only $3 million
- part 1 had $9 million...)
and an extremely limited theatrical release, which makes "Fright Night Part II" one of the most overseen, most underrated and most forgotten horror films of the 80s - a fucking shame because it certainly is one of the best horror sequels of that decade.


Written by Tom Holland, Tim Metcalfe ("Kalifornia") and Miguel Tejada-Flores ("Beyond Re-Animator"), and directed by Tommy Lee Wallace ("Amityville II" / "Halloween III"), "Fright Night Part II" follows Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent who encounter a group of vampires, led by super-hot vampire chick Regine Dandrige, who seeks revenge for the death of her brother Jerry and desperately wants to turn Charley into a vampire so that he can face his punishment for all eternity.

The plot may be not that original and it's almost unexcusable that Stephen Geoffreys didn't reprise his role - but apart from that, it delivers almost everything you want in a good sequel and perfectly lives up to its predecessor. Roddy McDowall and William Ragsdale are back together and in some weird kinda way, they're performances are even better than in the first part. Stunningly intense chemistry, very well attuned to each other, constantly delivering ace dialogue
("I am after a vampire, my friend. No, a REAL vampire! Not one of those fantasy ones." / "What do you mean low grade melodrama? Did you SEE 'Bloodsuckers from Beyond'?? Then you don't know what you're talking about, do you?")
Also, fantastic performances by hottie Julie Carmen as the blood-hungry Regine ("Let's talk about blood, Mr. Vincent. It's very precious to me.") and cutie Traci Lind as Brewster's new girlfriend ("Communion wafers? The stuff you get from the church? Am I going to hell for this?").


There's once again lots of ace-looking special effects, ghastly gore, terrific vampire make-up, and a few other hilarious creatures, such as the silly, slightly lovey-dovey wolfman, the Roller-Vampire who looks a bit like Michael Jackson or the goofy insect-eater. Wallace's direction is spot-on, Mark Irwin's ("Scanners", "Videodrome") camera work is marvellous as always, and Brad Fiedel's music is once again excellent.
Highlights: the very first bite scene, the super-cool vampire party and the outstanding finale - which is even better than the one in the first part - involving coffins, communion wafers, fire, explosions, drama and elevator action. Awesomeness!


If only all sequels would be as great as this one... *sigh*
Oh btw, at one point there were plans for a third film, but sadly, they never came to fruition (read about it here).




FRIGHT NIGHT

Alternate Title:
Fright Night 3D

USA, 2011
Director: Craig Gillespie

3/10









A 3D remake of one of the greatest horror films in history? There was no way this could work out, and eventually, it didn't work out - at all. The 2011 reboot of Tom Holland's classic turned out to be a charmless, lifeless, dull, vapid and entirely forgettable piece of boredom that feels as if director Craig Gillespie ("Lars and the Real Girl") and screenwriter Marti Noxon ("I am Number Four") took a rejected script draft for an unrealized "Disturbia" sequel that, and turned it into a "Fright Night" reboot for whatever reason.


There's hardly any suspense or atmosphere, the pacing is way too tedious, the movie plods along at snail's pace, the oh-so-amusing geek humor totally doesn't work, and due to the fact that it's packed to the brim with unbelievably awful-looking CGI effects and slightly sterile settings, it's an eye-insulting flick that probably causes eye-cancer, or something like that.

The acting ranges from okay to unbearable, and nearly every character is a douchebag, especially Peter Vincent 2.0, a frighteningly terrible Russell-Brand-imitation, played by the horribly overrated David Tennant, a terribly miscast Christopher Mintz-Plasse as awfully unfunny Evil Ed 2.0, Anton Yelchin as unlikable and douchy Brewster 2.0 and a surprisingly embarrassing Colin Farrell as unintentionally laughable wifebeater-shirt-wearing serial-bloodsucker who's performance is almost aggravating.


I also hated the supposed-to-be-cool Indie-soundtrack that totally doesn't fit. In fact, all the songs from 'oh-so-hip' artists like 'Foster The Kids' or 'Young The Giant' feel as if they were just randomly thrown in. I dug the pretty gorgeous cinemaotgraphy by Javier Aguirresarobe ("Blue Jasmine"), a couple of okay scenes in the first half and a cool cameo by Chris Sarandon - other than that, "Fright Night" is a worthless, superfluous and forgettable rip-off.




FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD

German Title:
Fright Night 2 - Frisches Blut

USA, 2013
Director: Eduardo Rodriguez

6,5/10









I have no idea why, but apparently someone thought it's a great idea to greenlight a sequel in-name-only sequel to the reboot of Tom Holland's 80s classic "Fright Night", or in other words: another(!) remake of the original including several elements of the 1988 sequel, set in Romania where Charley Brewster 3.0 encounters good old Countess Báthory...

Sounds awful, huh? Surprisingly, it's not as awful as expected. Director Eduardo Rodriguez ("Stash House") and screenwriter slash sequel-expert Matt Venne ("White Noise 2" / "Mirrors 2") created a decent little vampire flick that works as a homage to the 80s, as well as a stand-alone film - and it's obviously way better than Craig Gillespie's bad re-crap.


It starts quite lame and boring, gets better and better in the middle and ends with an incredible finale in a blood-filled bathing pit. The acting isn't perfect, but nearly all of the actors deliver solid performances, especially Will Payne as Brewster 3.0 (lightyears better than Anton Yelchin), Chris Waller as Evil Ed 3.0 (lightyears better than Mintz-Plasse), Sean Power as Peter Vincent 3.0 (lightyears better than the insanely overrated David Tennant) and super-mega-hottie Jaime Murray as Báthory. Sacha Parkinson is rather mediocre as Brewster's GF, but when her character becomes a vampire, she's suddenly really, really impressive. Great looks, great mimics, splendid performance!

The CGI effects are absolutely horrid. Gladly, there's still enough 'real' blood and gory kills to enjoy. There's lots of eerie and tense scenes (Báthory in the subway, the chase through the catacombs, Brewster hiding in a coffin, the animated History-of-Báthory scene), as well as many ridiculously awesome moments (Evil Ed's "Cross App", Evil Ed's pizzaface). The camera work is ok but could have been more imaginative, but I really liked the violin-driven score
by Luis Ascanio ("Curandero").

Oh, and did I mention all the wonderful nudity? Lots of boobs, lots of super-hot pole dancers and strippers... Heaven! ;-)


A surprisingly diverting re-remake, highly recommended to everyone who hates rhe remake about as much as me :)

22 comments:

  1. Glad I passed on the reboot!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome reviews as always, Maynard!

    I've seen the 80s flicks but not the modern remakes...nor do I think I'll bother. Thank you, once again, for watching such rubbish, so we don't have to.

    Happy Vampire's Day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Well, the sequel to the remake is pretty decent, so I definitely recommend it to you. Happy belated Vampire's day! :-)

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  3. Perfect for planning a horror movie night. Happy Vampire Day.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the original Fright Night, it always gave me the creepy shivers. Happy Vampire's Day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, the original is one excellent piece of creepy fun. Happy belated Vampire's Day!

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  5. I like the 'Fright Night' remake. I can understand why diehard fans of the original wouldn't like it, but viewed without the baggage of the original, I think it's entertaining. (I already know that no one agrees with me.) The only bit that I didn't like was the CGI vampire effects, which were completely unnecessary.

    Happy Vampire's Day! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen it two times - both times, it was simple impossible to get the original films out of my head. And the CGI... *yuck*

      Happy belated Vampire's Day! :-D

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  6. I loved the original Fright Night, especially Roddy McDowell. Not so much the sequels and remakes though. But they're watchable. Thanks for the reviews and the pics! :)

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    Replies
    1. Ha, yeah, McDowall is a god in these flicks. Thanks for your comment! :)

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  7. I've never seen any of the Fright Night series but just looking at that woman in the first one with the mouth full of teeth, I can already tell I'd have my hands over my eyes for most of it! :)

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    Replies
    1. Oh, that girl is actually pretty lovely... it's Amanda Bears, better known as "Marcy" form "Married... with Children" :-D

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    2. Nooooo way! Good Lord, I'd never have known from that picture!

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  8. I like the original sequel the best

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Understandable. It's a damn great sequel!

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  9. I LOVE the original Fright Night and the sequel! Thought about checking out the first remake. Glad I didn't now. I may check out the second one though, and no, not just for the nudity! lol.
    Thanks so much for attending the Soiree! Hope you had a happy Vampire's Day! ^♥^

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The latest Fright Night installment is definitely watchable - not just because of the nudity ;-) Would love to hear what you think of it.

      Thank you, I actually had a terrific Vampire's Day :-) Can't wait for the next blogfest!

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  10. HAHAhahaha....absolutely awesome reviewing! I haven't seen any of the Fright Night movies, but now I know which to avoid I shall :D XXX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe, thank you, always here to help and recommend :D xxx

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