In the original Fright Night there are some bad things. William Ragsdale’s Charlie Brewster is pretty much a frantic asshole especially to his friend Evil Ed. Over the years I accepted Chris Sarandon’s Jerry Dandridge and always thought he could’ve been scarier, but the fact that he wasn’t was part of the appeal because vampires were supposed to be scary monsters. But with all the bad, the good outweighed everything else. Roddy McDowall’s Peter Vincent brings so much heart and soul (even when he watches Evil Ed die) that makes you attached enough to care about these people surviving a horror flick. Now, there’s Fright Night Las Vegas. There are a few good things, but the bad far outweighs any good.
I guess what bugs me the most is that it hardly feels like this has any personality. It feels like a standard genre piece with no mounting conflict. It’s just like things happen for the sake of happening because they have the structure of the original to tell them basically what to do. For most of the film it does feel like there are a couple scenes that aren’t in the first. And the tone is different in the sense it does try to be scary, but honestly are we really afraid of vampires? Especially, blatant CGI-mouthed vampires? If you are then you have every reason to be scared because Colin Farrel does have that child molester vibe that’s needed for this and pulls it off well.
What probably could’ve been cut out was the Peter Vincent character. There is nothing interesting or appealing about David Tennet’s character unless you just want to watch Dr. Who in a horror flick, but really why would Charlie Brewster need to visit Peter Vincent in the first place if he was doing his own research anyway? So, why would he try to go and visit him to ask him how to kill a vampire? It kind of works in the original on account that William Ragsdale played it as more frantic and naïve. And if you’re trying to do a scarier and “smarter” Fright Night why would a big-ass Vegas celebrity give a shit about some kid? The only real piece of information that Peter Vincent provides is the alter that Jerry Dandrich has stashed in his house which leads him to believe Jerry is a 400 year-old warrior vampire—and a shitty one at that if he’s hunting teenagers. The reason the Peter and Charlie pairing works in the original is for one Roddy McDowall’s Peter Vincent is a failing local celebrity on late night public television show airing old horror flicks and needs the money. So, he helps him at first just for the cash and then he realizes he’s in over his head then Peter must now fight the good fight no matter how frightened he is. It’s true that David Tennet’s Peter Vincent is coward as well, but there is like no life to him. He’s a superficial celebrity with an even less interesting base character. There’s no sense of build to really get invested in him and would’ve been best if during all Charlie’s “porn” research he just came across these Mediterranean vampires in some old book. It would’ve eliminated the half-assed shoehorning of David Tennet.
Is it fair to compare two movies made 28 years apart? Well, when Hollywood is asking for what few dollars we have in a shitty economy then I shouldn’t have to see a shittier version of the same movie. I should just see a brand-new shitty movie that way I wouldn’t feel so ripped off.
And for those interested in the original...