Sometimes They Come Back is here to take a look at the horror genre and its love for remakes! We’ll be discussing both the original movie and its remake (sometimes multiple remakes) in detail before deciding who comes out on top! Are the originals always the best? Let’s find out!
This month I’m tackling a Sometimes They Come Back first, in that I’m doing a blog post on two movies I have never seen before. How have I got the age of 31 as a self-described horror geek and never seen either version of Fright Night? I am not sure, but while I was aware of the existence of both versions I have never had the pleasure of viewing either of them. In fact, I couldn’t even have told you what they were about apart from vampires.
So how shall the films fare this month without viewing them through the nostalgic hue that’s usually reserved for movies I’ve been watching since I was a child? Let’s find out!
Fright Night (1985)
The original Fright Night (1985) (directed by Tom Holland) opens with our main characters Charley and Amy having a winch on Charley’s bedroom floor, while his TV shows a vampire movie (with very Dracula-sounding character names) playing in the background. The movie stars Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) as a vampire hunter. Peter also presents the late-night horror movie feature show called Fright Night which the movie is featured on.
In the style of a lot of ‘80s movies, Charley has no real idea of what consent is, and continues to stick his hand up Amy’s shirt even though she quite clearly tells him no more than once. When Charley storms off with his wounded douchebag ego, he happens to spy his new neighbours moving what looks like a coffin into the house’s basement. Even though Amy has decided she is now willing to take things a little further, Charley continues to stare through his binoculars, and Amy storms out.
We hear murmurs of murders taking place in the town on the news, and the next day Charley witnesses a very attractive young woman entering his neighbour Jerry’s (Chris Sarandon) house. Later that night Charley hears a scream outside his window and all the lights go off in Jerry’s house at the same time. The following day we find out the woman was a local prostitute, and she’s been found dead. Charley’s best friend Evil Ed mentions it’s not the first murder that’s taken place in the town, with all the victims having their heads chopped off, which if you’re a fan of vampire lore, this is a tried and tested way of preventing a vampire-bitten person coming back and turning into a vampire themselves.
After trying to creep into Jerry’s basement and failing when he’s disturbed by Jerry’s ‘roommate’ Billy, Charley decides the best thing to do is to stakeout (no pun intended) Jerry’s house to see what’s really going on. Teamed with Fright Night playing the background, he peers through into Jerry’s house and catches Jerry getting frisky with a young woman right in front of one of the windows. Just when it looks like Jerry is about to take a bite of the woman’s neck, he spots Charley spying on him, and shuts the blinds with a particularly pointy looking hand.
Charley then spots Billy carrying what looks suspiciously like a body out of the house and onto his truck. Charley sneaks outside to see what’s going on, and is swooped at by a bat from Jerry’s roof. Moments later Jerry appears out of the darkness, causally eating an apple, and Charley thinks Jerry has appeared in bat-form, further cementing his idea that he’s a vampire. Unfortunately, Charley’s mum appears at the back door and alerts Jerry and Billy to Charley’s presence in a nearby bush.
Charley’s attempts to alert the police to the fact Jerry might have been involved in the recent murders, but when a lieutenant visits the house a combination of Billy’s charm and Charley’s vampire accusations cause him to storm out. Now realising that he’s outed his vampire theory to Billy, Charlie heads to Evil Ed’s house for some advice before the sun sets and Jerry wake up, if he is indeed asleep in his basement coffin
While he has to pay Evil Ed to share any information with him, Ed tells him to arm himself with crosses, garlic, and holy water, and to never invite Jerry into the house, as vampires can’t enter a dwelling without an invitation from the rightful owner.
Charley heads right home and nails his bedroom window shut, when he really should be worried about his mum wanting to nail Jerry, as she’s gone right ahead and invited him into the house for a drink. An awkward conversation ensues where Charley looks terrified, Charley’s mum is obviously hot for Jerry, and Jerry is pretty much oozing sex appeal while giving off a vaguely threatening air towards Charley.
Charley boards himself in his room, cross in hand, and falls asleep in the chair by his window. While he sleeps an unseen creature sweeps through the air outside and lands on Charley’s roof. Charley awakens at the noise of footsteps, and after hearing a window scratching noise downstairs, he heads down to investigate. Unfortunately for Charley, Jerry has actually made his way into the house through Charley’s mum’s window. As Jerry makes his way to the bedroom door, he doesn’t cast a reflection in the mirror (though I’ll be honest I didn’t notice this when I viewed the movie, and even director Tom Holland doesn’t like the way this scene is shot as it’s easy to miss this detail), and jams the door shut as he leaves. He then makes his way to Charley’s wardrobe and hides inside.
When Charley reappears in his room, Jerry pops out and throws him through his wardrobe. If we weren’t sure if Jerry was a vampire up until now, and to be fair it seems like it could have gone either way, it’s clear he is perhaps a tad supernatural when he effortlessly lifts Charley by the throat. He does, however, give Charley a choice to leave him alone, forget about his vampire-ness, and Jerry will stop harassing him. Presumably, a kid who has been going around shouting about someone being a vampire turning up dead may bring more heat to Jerry’s door than he needs, so he’s taking a sensible route and trying to avoid more hassle.
Charley has proven himself of a bit of a tool up until now, so I don’t know why we thought he would do anything else other than tell Jerry to shove his offer. Jerry looks disappointed but not surprised, and tries to push Charley out the window. Charley takes the slightly risky route of stabbing Jerry’s hand which is currently holding his throat with a pencil, and Jerry goes understandably radge. When Jerry turns around he has partially transformed into his more undead state (which is very similar to the look Quentin Tarantino sports in From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) when he makes the turn and then calms down into a more Michael Jackson from his Thriller (1983) video when he first begins his werewolf transformation) and looks as though he’s ready to tear Charley apart, but when he hears Charley’s mother trying to escape from her bedroom he decides to take his leave rather than risk discovery.
Charley decides the only person he is remotely aware of who might know anything about vampires is Peter Vincent, presenter of Fight Night. As he’s desperate he heads to the TV studio to try and talk to Peter and ask for is help. Peter isn’t in the mood to listen as he’s just been fired from his show as kids these days aren’t interested in vampire movies, and doesn’t exactly believe Charley’s story about the vampire next door, so speeds off in his car with Charley screaming after him.
Distraught, Charley locks himself in his room and turns it into a vampire hunting den. When Amy and Ed turns up to check on Charley they are understandably worried, and also seem to think the best course of action is to contact Peter Vincent to see if he can help. When Charley says he’s already turned down his plea for help, Amy and Ed say they’ll try to ask him again, before Charley tries to storm in there and attempt to kill Jerry himself while he’s asleep.
At Peter Vincent’s house Amy and Ed try their best to convince him to come and help them. While they don’t believe in vampires themselves, they suggest to Peter that he could fake some sort of vampire test to put Charley’s mind at rest, though they do have to pay him to convince him to come along. Peter arms him with a mirrored cigarette case that used to be a movie prop, and some holy water, and then phones Jerry to arrange the whole thing.
The gang head over to Jerry’s house, where Amy and Jerry are clearly hot for each other (as Amy resembles a portrait of a past love that Jerry has in his house), and Jerry agrees to drinking the holy water (though he pre-checked with Vincent on the phone that it was in fact just tap water) to prove he is not a vampire. Happy that he’s completed his part in the plan, Peter tries to use his ‘expert knowledge’ to get Charley to leave, but on the way out he goes to get a cigarette and notices that Jerry doesn’t cast a reflection in the mirrored lid. Dropping his mirror, he almost alerts Jerry to his discovery, but he manages to get the whole Scooby gang out and safe. However, Jerry soon notices the broken mirror glass and deduces what has happened. Outside Peter shares the lack of the reflection with Charley, which reignites his vampire beliefs, as Peter speeds off.
Charley and Ed decide to walk Amy home, though en-route Ed gets pissy that Charley still won’t let the vampire thing go, and storms off into a dark alley by himself, where he is promptly chased and bitten by Jerry. Jerry then moves on to stalking Amy and Charley and chases them into a local nightclub, where they mistakenly think they’ll be safe.
Meanwhile, a recently-turned Ed heads to Peter Vincent’s house and easily gets an invitation when he claims that Jerry is chasing him. However, Peter quickly realises he’s actually a vampire and presses a cross into his forehead, which leaves a pretty gruesome indent, and Ed throws himself out the window in retaliation.
Back at the club Charley is desperately trying to phone the police and Peter Vincent, while Jerry is sexily making his way towards Amy from across the room. He manages to lure Amy away from Charley and have a very steamy dance session with her in the middle of the club. I am all for Amy running off with Jerry, because even though he is a creature of the night, he has already treated her better than Charley has. Would you rather be kissing on a teenage boy’s bedroom floor when he’d rather be peeping on the neighbours, or having a wee grind down the local nightclub with a sexy older man? I know which one I would pick. Though saying that, I am not sure of the intended age difference here (as Amanda Bearse who plays Amy was 27 years-old but Amy is meant to be a high school student), as even before he became a vampire Jerry is clearly a lot older than Amy.
Charley gets through to Peter, but he refuses to help the teens after his run-in with Evil Ed. Charley finally notices Amy is gone, and tries to pull her away from Jerry, where Jerry demonstrates how easily he could have her by kissing her right in from of Charley. He asks Charley to come to his house tonight with Peter Vincent if he ever wants to see Amy again, and then he makes his escape in his sweet vampire jeep.
After another attempt at convincing Peter Vincent to come with him and help him, Charley decides to head there solo and take Jerry on himself. Meanwhile, Amy is rocking a sexy vampire bride dress, and is ready to have some fireside-fun with Jerry. For all his sexy bravado, Jerry never takes it any further than topless kissing before getting a bit bitey, and soon has a munch on Amy.
Charley makes his entrance into Jerry’s house and luckily for him Peter Vincent has decide to tag along and impart any vampire knowledge he may be able to offer. He’s also come equipped with a massive selection of vampire killing accessories, as well as a gun to take care of Billy.
In the house Jerry appears, and tells Charley all he has to do is get past him in order to save Amy. Vincent attempts to attack Jerry with a cross, but Jerry reminds him that you need faith in the cross for it to actually work on a vampire as powerful as him. Charley takes a stab at it and his faith is clearly stronger as Jerry backs into the shadows. Just when it looks like things might be going their way, Billy pops out from the darkness and blueters Charley, as Vincent makes a run for it out the front door.
Vincent tries to get help from Charley’s mother, but find’s Evil Ed in her bed instead. Jerry appearently saved all the vampire sexy for himself, as Ed is not a well-looking vampire. However, he does have the ability to turn into a wolf, and throws himself at Peter Vincent. In a shot which I can only describe as fucking fantastic wolf Ed lands on Peter, is stabbed with the leg from a table Peter crushed earlier, then flips over the bannister before hitting the chandelier on his way down. It’s a lot to process. The wolf then struggles on the floor and begins a slow transformation back into Ed’s human form. His feet shrink back to normal size and his paws reverse-melt into hands as half-wolf Ed struggles with the table leg in his chest. The swinging chandelier light is an excellent distraction for any less-than-perfect effects as Peter Vincent looks like he’s about to pass out from the horror happening in front of him. Eventually Ed stops struggling, reverts back to a human, and appears to die – though Peter Vincent should really know that vampires rarely leave intact corpses when they die.
Meanwhile, Jerry has handily dumped an unconscious Charley in the same room as the slowly transforming Amy. He also gives him a stake before locking Charley in the room with her and leaving, saying he’ll need to use it just before dawn. Peter Vincent, having been spurred on by the death of Ed, returns to the house and breaks into the room to help Charley and Amy. He reveals that as long as they kill Jerry before dawn Amy will turn back into a human. As they make their way through the house Billy appears, and Vincent shoots him in the head. However, it turns out Billy isn’t completely human after all, and it takes a lot of shots and a stake through the heart before he melts into a pile of green blood and sand. His skeleton then clatters down the stairs like the exploding bones from the skeleton enemies in Mickey Mania on the Mega Drive. If you’ve played it you know the ones. You can never jump over them without getting damage no matter how hard you try. They suck.
Jerry, meanwhile, is skittering about outside on the walls and peeping in the windows. He communicates with the now fully-transformed Amy and asks her to show him how much she loves him by killing both Peter Vincent and Charley. Jerry finally bursts in through a window and faces off with Peter, and this time Peter’s faith is strong enough for his cross to work. While Jerry is distracted, all the clocks in his house start to toll, signalling that dawn is approaching and he really needs to get his ass in his coffin. A direct ray of sunlight hits him in the back, and as he’s propelled across the room he transforms into a giant bat creature, which make a loop around and tries to take a bite out of Peter. In the fight Charley is bitten on the arm before the sunlight overpowers Jerry and he retreats to the basement.
In the basement Charley and Peter split up, with Peter coming across Jerry’s secret coffin room and Charley coming across Amy, who has finally escaped her room upstairs. She is now a buxom vampire with long hair which has sprouted from nowhere. She lays the guilt on Charley pretty thickly for letting Jerry get her, and when she stands up from being crouched over her face has now transformed into what I can only describe as a vampire shark! With huge yellow eyes and a gaping mouth of giant teeth, she lunges at Charley.
Meanwhile, Peter has woken Jerry from his sleep, and during the fight Jerry mistakenly throws a stake Peter had attempted to kill him with at one of the blacked-out windows, breaking it and allowing the sunlight inside. Charley continues to break windows until Jerry is engulfed in green flames, his skeleton revealing a horrible winged creature that explodes and dies. Luckily Amy has reverted back to her human form (original hair style included) and all his well.
We then cut to another night, when Amy and Charley are lying in bed watching Peter on Fright Night, which is back on the air. Charley sees a flash of what looks like red eyes coming from Jerry’s house, but he dismisses them and returns to Amy. However, as we zoom back over to the darkened window we see the eyes reappear, and we hear Evil Ed laugh and shout, “Oh you’re so cool, Brewster!” – suggesting that Evil Ed may have survived his encounter with the table leg after all.
Fright Night (2011)
I feel like a massive problem with horror remakes is they don’t trust their audience to tag along for the ride and wait for a reveal. Movies I’ve talked about before like Evil Dead (2013) open with a very early confirmation that something bad is, in fact, going on, so there’s no real suspense as we wait for the ‘monster’ to make its first appearance.
This is an approach Fright Night (2011) takes as well, as we open on a teenage boy and his whole family being slaughtered by a vampire, thus confirming that vampires do exist about a minute into the movie. Rather than dragging it out and making us wonder if Charley is actually going to face off against a vampire or if horror movies are perhaps warping his perception of things a little, we know going in that vampires are real and we’re being shown this opening for a reason.
We soon cut to Charley (Anton Yelchin), and his mum Jane (Toni Collette) talking outside their house. Jane is a real estate agent, who is worried about how the skip in their new neighbour’s drive will affect house sales. She can’t figure out where all the rubble has come from when the new neighbour isn’t digging a new pool. She is also moving some extremely pointy, stake-shaped ‘For Sale’ signs in her garage, so just remember those for later – that’s all I’m saying. Charley has recently acquired himself a new popular girlfriend called Amy (Imogen Poots), who he has dumped his best friend, Evil Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), to hang around with.
At school that day quite a few kids are missing from the class register in the morning, and Ed approaches Charley to point out that one of their close friends Adam has recently gone missing too. He basically blackmails Charley into chumming him to Adam’s house after school, or he will release a video of the three of them play fighting and generally being geeks, and Charley agrees.
When Charley heads home that night, he finds his mum talking to their new neighbour Jerry (Colin Farrell), who is doing a little twilight gardening. Jerry apologies for the skip in the drive and agrees to get rid of it as soon as possible while doing a little bit of flirting with Charley’s mum. Amy turns up, and Jerry also turns on the charm with her, before Charley receives a text from Ed that reminds him of his earlier promise.
Cut to Adam’s house, where Ed is waiting for Charley, which we quickly recognise as the house from the opening vampire slaughter. Ed quickly drops the bombshell that Charley’s new neighbour is a vampire who has been murdering half the town. Charley and Adam have been tracking him for some time, and he believes Adam was killed because of what he knew. Charley doesn’t believe him, and they end up having a fight about how Charley has treated Ed since he got with Amy.
On his way home (skateboarding of course, because he is a nerd), Ed is attacked by one of the cool gang Mark (Dave Franco), who chases him through the neighbourhood. Ed scales a fence to escape him but has to dump his bag of vampire killing equipment along the way. Unfortunately, when he is jumping fences he runs into Jerry hanging about the local back gardens. He tries to hide in an abandoned house, but Jerry points out the whole needing an invitation thing doesn’t work on an abandoned house. Jerry tries to talk Ed into turnin willingly before cornering him in the swimming pool and biting him.
The next day Charley notices that Ed has been added to the list of missing kids, so heads to his house to see what’s up. While he’s there he finds all his vampire research in his room, including video evidence of Jerry not showing up on video camera. He also finds the website of Peter Vincent, a vampire expert who has a show on the local Las Vegas strip. When Charley arrives home and bumps into Jerry again (who really loves just hanging out in the garden), he asks Charley if he can borrow some beer for a date he has tonight. Charley agrees but neglects to invite Jerry in, and notices that he can’t come into the kitchen of his own accord. Jerry also goes for the creepy bastard angle in this movie rather than sexy, and basically pervs on Amy and Charley’s mum, so I think Charley may not want to invite Jerry into his house for several reasons.
Amy shows up and tries to have sex with Charley, but he notices Jerry welcoming his pretty neighbour into his house, so he’s a little distracted, and Amy leaves. When he hears a scream later, Charley calls the police, who turn up only to be charmed away by Jerry without even entering his house. When Jerry’s truck leaves later, Charley breaks into his house to see what’s going on.
Upstairs he finds a wardrobe full of various work uniforms, suggesting Jerry may not be what he seems, as well as a strange vampire symbol on the wall. When Jerry returns to the house, Charley finds a secret door in his wardrobe to hide in, which leads to a warren of small, white cells. Each door has a peephole, and in one he finds his neighbour. Charley tries to save her, but Jerry makes his way upstairs and Charley is forced to hide and watch her be bitten. Remake Jerry is a very violent biter, where there’s lots of blood involved and not a lot of sex appeal. Jerry appears to smell Charlie’s presence, but decides to leave and head back downstairs anyway.
Charlie manages to rescue his neighbours and sneak her out of the house, where unfortunately because it is now dawn, she bursts into ash the minute they are outside. Inside, Jerry laughs, clearly aware of what Charley was up to and not giving a damn.
Now clearly aware that Jerry is indeed a vampire, Charley goes into full vampire research mode. He decides to head to Peter Vincent’s (David Tennant) show, sneak in as a fake reporter, and ask him the best way to take down a vampire. Peter is an eyeliner-clad, long-haired, skinny jean wearing character, who runs a vampire performance-type magic show, and has a hotel suite full of vampire-related trinkets. However, between swigs of the green, melon-flavoured drink Midori, Peter strips off his wig, facial hair, various piercings, and basically says he’s just read a lot of books but doesn’t have any real-life experience of how to kill a vampire. Charley tries to show him photos he took of the vampire symbols he found in Jerry’s house, but Peter has him thrown out.
As night creeps in, Charley heads back to his house and starts to vampire-proof it, for fear of what Jerry will do to him. Mark and Ben (another one of the cool kids) are sitting outside Charley’s house spying on him after Mark came across Ed’s vampire bag when Jerry appears and chomps on them both. Amy arrives to talk to Charley, and both her and his mum try to get him to open up to them when Jerry knocks on the door. He starts off trying to be charming but eventually tells Charley’s mum that Charley broke into his house and he’s going to call the police. Luckily, Charley’s mum believes her kid over a random hot guy and tells him to go away rather than risk inviting him in.
Jerry then does the only rational thing he can do. He digs up Charley’s back garden, pulls out the gas pipe, and ignites it so the house sets on fire. Obviously. Charley, his mum, and Amy escape in their car, only to be chased by Jerry. He throws Charley’s motorbike through the rear windscreen (because 3D), then rams them in a car of his own, before overtaking them and getting out the car. Charley forces his mum to run Jerry over, and while the road is covered in blood, Jerry is actually clinging to the underneath of the car and bursts through the floor. “That’s his fucked-up vampire hand, now do you believe me?”, Charley screams, which I did laugh out loud at. Never miss a chance to prove people wrong, even when you’re about to be brutally murdered.
When both parties are stopped in the middle of the desert, they are struck by another car – a sneaky wee cameo by Chris Sarandon (spoiler alert: he’s still sexier than Colin Farrell). Jerry quickly dispatches of him, giving us a full view of vampire face for the first time, which honestly looks like the Merman from The Cabin in the Woods (2012), but nowhere near as good because it’s really weird CGI. Charley then tries to fight Jerry off with a cross, but when it doesn’t work, Charley’s mum jumps in with those very sharp ‘For Sale’ signs from earlier, and stabs him. Charley’s mum faints, and so they steal one of the other cars and head to the hospital with her, but not before flipping their own mini-van on to Jerry. As they drive away we see him start to heal and regenerate in the middle of the road.
Back at Peter Vincent’s hotel suite, he comes across the photos from earlier than Charley tried to show him and looks a tad worried. He heads to his safe and pulls out a replica of the image from Jerry’s house. He then phones Charley at the hospital, telling him he can help him and he needs to come over now.
Before they leave the hospital, Charley laments about how he turned into a dick when he started going out with Amy, and Amy reveals that she knew he was a dweeb and that’s why she started dating him. Clearly, Charley should feel double guilty for dumping Evil Ed now. They also cover Charley’s mum’s room in crosses in a bid to protect her while they’re away, which I did think was a nice touch.
Peter reveals that the symbol means that Jerry is part of a vampire species who are snackers. This means they are tribal by nature and so snack on their victims rather than kill them outright, as this enables them to grow their ranks. Just then a delivery arrives, and Peter invites them in without thinking, as they are revealed to be Evil Ed, now in full vampire form. Peter immediately locks himself in his panic room, as Evil Ed calls Jerry to invite him up.
Charley fights Ed, manages to chop his arm off, and almost chops his head off with a giant axe, but fails to land the fatal blow. Meanwhile, Amy is taking on Jerry. Luckily, Peter has loads of vampire-related paraphernalia around, and Amy grabs a gun with silver bullets. “Werewolves”, Jerry quips when the bullet does not affect him. “Vampires”, Amy retorts as she throws a bottle of holy water in his face. She then saves Charley by macing Ed in the face, before Charley finally stakes him and he dies.
Charley and Amy escape through the hotel kitchen and onto the dancefloor, where’s we’re denied the amazing sexy dance scene from the first movie because Jerry just chucks Amy over his shoulder and walks away with her. On the other side of the club, he lets her drink some of his blood, which hypnotises her, and then he bites her, all while Charley is chucked out because he doesn’t have ID.
Peter is busy packing up his room when Charley reappears. Peter reveals that the reason he is so unwilling to help him is because a vampire killed his mum and dad when he was young, but left him alive. He does, however, offer him a special stake he has, which has been blessed by Saint Michael, which will kill Jerry and cause all his victims to return to their human state. He also suggests that Charley might want to set Jerry on fire before he stakes him, as it’s a challenge to get that close to a vampire, but a burning vampire isn’t thinking clearly.
Charley heads back to the hospital to keep an eye on his mum until the sun rises, and then go to the local gun/hardware store and stocks up on a sweet new outfit and lots of vampire killing accessories. At Jerry’s house, he smashes open all the windows and then heads to the secret peephole cells to find Amy. Just as he finds the room she is in; Jerry pulls her through the floor.
Heading down to the basement to find her, Charley stumbles across Peter, who has finally decided to join him. They find the entire underneath of the house has been hollowed out (which explains all the skips full of dirt), and Jerry promptly throws Charley into a room with vampire Amy. He then reveals he was the vampire that killed Peter’s family, before throwing a rock at Peter’s head, causing him to bleed. Peter is a bit confused by his choice of attack until the scent of his blood starts to attract Jerry’s vampire army, which is hanging out in the dirt.
After a brief fight with Amy, in which she unleashes her very disappointing shark-like mouth, Charley stabs her with a stake, but not through the heart as he’s only looking to incapacitate her. When he finds Peter, he is being snacked on by various vampires. Charley shoots lots of holes in the ceiling, letting the sunlight through, and creating a safe area for Peter and himself. However, as Peter is starting to turn into a vampire, they won’t be safe there for long. Jerry tries to remain threatening as he strolls around the basement, saying his vampire clan can wait until dark to get Charley, but him stopping mid-monologue to gently hiss at one of the streams of sunlight just comes off as ridiculous.
It all gets too much for Charley when Jerry and Amy start kissing, and he lets Peter in on the last part of his plan – he’s wearing a flameproof suit. Peter sets him on fire, and he charges at Jerry, before clipping himself to Jerry so he cannot escape. Peter helps by shooting more holes in the ceiling, and luckily for Charley, the mixture of sunlight and fire melts Jerry’s chest away, revealing his heart. Peter throws Charley the blessed stake, and he stabs Jerry’s exposed heart, killing him. We also see the vampire evil leave the remaining victims, as they all return to their human form.
Sometime later, Charley’s mum is shopping for their new house, and Charley is planning on having sex with Amy in Peter’s plush hotel suite. God bless them for not giving us a sequel set-up ending is all I can say. Though it does finish with a country version of 99 Problems (2004), so I’m not sure which is actually worse.
Fright Night (1985) vs Fright Night (2011) – The Final Verdict
Let’s talk about the things I was not ready for when it came to Fright Night (1985). I was not ready for how good the effects were. I don’t know what I was expecting, when ‘80s horror has some of the best practical effects out there. The likes of The Thing (1982) and An American Werewolf in London (1981) showed us that you could use practical effects for monster movies and they can look bloody amazing. They don’t have to look like a bunch of melted plastic, and you don’t have to use computer effects to achieve something terrifying. The entire sequence where Evil Ed is attacked by Peter Vincent, in his half-wolf form, was incredible, and can we just take a second to talk about Amy’s shark mouth? Amy’s transformation into a vampire is slow and sweaty, and mostly seems to involve her hair growing, until she suddenly raises her head, showing off her huge gaping mouth and gigantic eyes.
The effects in the remake, however, are just awful. The only vampire movie that has effects this bad that I will let slide is Van Helsing (2004), and that’s only because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. They try and replicate the shark mouth from the original on both Jerry and Amy, but both times it misses the mark and doesn’t come over as scary or shocking.
It can be hard to make the switch to scary vampire when you’ve spent most of the movie trying to show the vampires as sexy and hypnotising, but Fright Night (1985) manages it perfectly. I would definitely be drawn in by Jerry’s charm before he made the move to a monster and munched me. And while we’re talking about that, the second thing that I wasn’t ready for with this film was how sexy it was. I do love a good use of the vampire hypnotism power, and Jerry is constantly convincing beautiful women to be his lunch with it, and I completely get it. I was devastated that they didn’t even try and make Jerry sexy in the remake and clearly just decided to play on the “Colin Farrell is sexy, right?” angle, which was far less enjoyable to watch. Well, for me anyway.
I don’t know if they went for the murderous monster angle rather than charming murderer just to try and make it scarier, but I find it more terrifying when Jerry drops his facade in the original and reveals his vampire side and just how easily he could kill you if he wanted.
In the original movie, Jerry is also very careful. He kills women that come to him of their own accord and then cuts off their heads, so they don’t overrun the town with vampires. He also has his assistant Billy to cover for him during the day and help keep him safe. 2011 Jerry could not give a shit about people knowing he is a vampire! He claims he’s trying to kill Charley to cover his tracks, but he murders people whenever the chance crops up and literally gives away his vampire identity to Charley, his mum, and Amy the minute they show any possible knowledge of it. How did he survive for so many years with such a crap approach to hiding himself?
Something else I wasn’t a fan off was the confirmation straight away that vampires are real and Jerry is one himself. Sure, if you’re going to watch a movie called Fright Night, then chances are there are going to be vampires in it, but what works so well in the original is the uncertainty at the beginning of whether Charley is right or if he’s just been watching too many movies. Until Jerry reveals himself to Charley in his room, we don’t know for sure that he is a vampire. In the remake, they decided to have Evil Ed know all about vampires before the movie even began so that he could drop the knowledge of Charley very early on. This still gave us lots of scenes of Charley researching vampires, but the audience was safe in the knowledge it was all real. It just seems a bit of a rushed opening, and I’m not sure how the remake managed to be roughly the same runtime as the original when we were thrown into it all so quickly.
I will say that I think the character of Peter Vincent was excellently played in both movies; however, I did prefer the original version. Original Peter had lots of vampire knowledge from fighting against them in movies, though it was never something he had ever had to put into practice, and the idea of real vampires terrified him. However, he manages to overcome that fear more than once to help his new friends.
Meanwhile, remake Peter has so much vampire knowledge as a response to a vampire encounter as a child. He believes they are real and surrounds himself with a fake version of them for money. His whole performance is fake as he presents a false version of himself to his fans, so until we find out his family were killed by vampires, it’s hard to like him very much, even though David Tennant does an excellent job playing him.
I far more enjoyed original Peter coming to terms with a creature he didn’t think existed, and didn’t think he would ever have to face, but has too simply because he has a lot of useful knowledge that can help save these teenagers. He puts aside his fear and disbelief, develops a little faith, and takes Jerry head-on.
I went into this remake with a lot of hope, as I read a few things before watching it about how good a remake it was, but having watched both the 1985 and the 2011 version for the first time, I think the 1985 version is the superior movie. The whole set-up, the effects, then sexy vampire angle, and Jerry Dandridge himself are all amazing in the original. I didn’t hate the 2011 version like some remakes out there, but it just fell flat for me and was quite forgettable.