20 September 2011

Clarky's Review: Fright Night

Fin's choice last week and he brought another 80's vampire movie to the table. Given what had come the week before I was not holding out much hope but as with every film that is brought to the table I was willing to give it a chance, especially when I saw Chris Sarandon was involved (I love The Princess Bride!). 

After complaining about the acting last week the opening scene did not fill me with much hope as we settled down on Thursday night. The camera slowly pans up to a bedroom window as we overhear a conversation within. Some of the dialogue is wooden and not only that the delivery is stilted. It's fair to say that I was fearing the worst. 

Thankfully, as the camera enters the bedroom we see that the conversation taking place is on screen as part of the "Fright Night" features shown on local TV. This sets the tone for what's to come, gives a knowing nod to the films that it is emulating and sets the acting bar very low! From this moment I knew I was going to like Fright Night. It may not be a great film and it may even be "worse", in filmic terms, than Near Dark, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. A schlocky, tongue in cheek B-movie that is also campy, over the top, doesn't take itself seriously and is all the better for it.

There are some neat story elements in here though, particularly in relation the traditional vampire folk lore - Dandridge being invited in was a nice touch and there is a stunning shot early on where Dandridge is walking across the bedroom but is not casting a reflection in the full length mirror. I also liked Roddy McDowell's character of the ageing B movie actor Peter Vincent, who is self involved but who turns out to be a hero in the end. Not only that, some of the special effects are absolutely spot on. The scene with Evil Ed in particular was great (returning to his original form was a really nice touch). Sure some of the effects were over the top, but they were in keeping with the tone of the movie and were a lot better than some of the CGI rubbish you see on screen nowadays.

This also ties in with one other factor that really added to the enjoyment of this film. It is something that has been noted in almost every Friday the 13th review we have written, and it is a favourite part of horror club. It is the sheer 80's ness of the film. It really is joyful to watch some of the stunning gear that the characters, especially Jerry Dandridge, show up in throughout the 106 minute running time. You even get a classicly superfluous 80's booby shot - a staple of the 80's horror film and staying true to the 80's horror movie formula, you also get the incredibly annoying character in the form of Evil Ed. However, he is also incredibly funny, but not always intentionally so.

Sure there are some plot holes - is Dandridges roommate a vampire? If so how can he go out into the sunlight? Why did the cross work on Evil Ed if Peter Vincent didn't really believe in it? But, unlike last week, the film doesn't take itself too seriously and therefore doesn't demand the viewer to either. As a result it is easy to forgive these differences as you are simply having to much fun to worry about them.

I can't imagine what the recent remake will add to the original, especially if they stick to the original tone. The only way it would be worth seeing is if it is a far more serious take on the story. However, by the looks of the trailer this is not the case. Why go and see a B movie remake with a big budget and big effects, when you can watch a gory, schlocky 80's "masterpiece"!

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