When the 2011 remake of “Fright Night” was showcased at Comic-Con International in San Diego, not only were clips from the 3-D movie revealed publicly for the first time during a “Fright Night” discussion panel on July 22, but the entire movie also premiered at a special “Fright Night” fan appreciation party with the movie’s stars and filmmakers in attendance. The “Fright Night” movies (the 1985 original and the 2011 remake) are about a teenager named Charley Brewster who discovers that his next-door neighbor Jerry is a murderous vampire. Unfortunately, authority figures don’t believe Charley when he tells them that Jerry is dangerous, so he has to fight an uphill battle to stop Jerry without being killed himself.
In the 2011 “Fright Night” remake Charley is played by Anton Yelchin, and Jerry is played by Colin Farrell. Christopher Mintz-Plasse plays Ed (Charley’s estranged best friend, who is the first to find out Jerry’s true identity); Imogen Poots plays Amy, Charley’s girlfriend who is initially skeptical about Jerry being a vampire; and David Tennant plays Peter Vincent, a Criss Angel-like TV personality who hosts a late-night horror show called “Fright Night.” Farrell, Yelchin, Poots, Mintz-Plasse, “Fright Night” remake director Craig Gillespie, “Fright Night” remake screenwriter Marti Noxon gathered for the movie’s Comic-Con discussion panel, which was moderated by none other than Chris Sarandon, who played Jerry in the original “Fright Night” movie and who has a cameo in the remake.
Craig, why did you want to direct “Fright Night”?
Gillespie: I had horrific images from my childhood from the original “Fright Night” that stuck with me for a long time. But I wasn’t familiar with the whole plot of “Fright Night,’ having seen it so long ago. When the script was sent to me, I just read it, basically cold. And it was such a great script that Marti [Noxon] wrote. And it’s such a great blend of horror and the thriller aspect but with the humor — and that’s what I loved about it. It was so clearly written for me that I could visualize it very easily, and I was on board right away.
Marti, you also wrote for the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series, so you have history of writing about vampires. But was it daunting to take on writing a remake of a horror classic such as “Fright Night”?
Noxon: Yes and no. Yes because there’s a lot of vampire [entertainment] out there right now. And I hadn’t really done anything since “Buffy,” because once you’ve done “Buffy,” it’s hard to top. But the original had such a good balance of the things you’re talking about, but also really interesting relationships that could be commented on 20 years later that could evolve, based on how the culture has evolved.
The world of Comic-Con is very much alive in the movie. And I wanted to write particularly about “Evil” Ed and Charley. I was really interested in their relationship. And I also really wanted to write a vampire who didn’t play the piano. Nothing against that, I just missed a kind of viciousness and sexuality that I felt Colin imbued.
Anton, what attracted you to playing Charley Brewster?
Yelchin: I think there’s a clearly defined, emotionally impactful journey for a guy to take, which is not knowing where he’s at and what he believes in and guessing at it — and in turn, losing his best friend. And then going on a journey to find himself and realize what’s important to him — and in turn, fight a vicious vampire. And it was great.
It’s the making of what really makes this guy who he is. There’s a lot going on. It’s well-written and well-structured. The relationships are all really complex but entertaining. I felt like it was a great journey.
Colin, why were you reluctant to take on the role of Jerry in “Fright Night”?
Farrell: I was 10 or 11 or so and I had seen [the original] “Fright Night” many times after that and since. I just loved it so much. When I heard that they were remaking it, I was dubious at first, and I thought, “Oh, here we go. Hollywood and its originality.” And I really, really liked it.
I had done three or four films that were a little bit heavy in their subject matter, and I just wanted to have fun. I wanted to go to work and have a laugh. And the script really engaged me. And that was it.
But being a lover of the original [“Fright Night”], I just wanted to know what direction [the remake] was going to go in. And there was enough homage paid to the original in the script that Marti wrote, and there was also enough that was different, that took the story and the characters in a new direction — particularly the vampire that was drawn by Marti.
The Jerry character was very different from what I’m sure what was on the page, even before what [Chris Sarandon] brought and did. I loved that. It took the pressure off, thank God, because I would’ve failed miserably. Like I needed to compete with [Chris Sarandon]. It was there and headed to another direction.
And David Tennant’s character [in “Fright Night”] — Peter Vincent — was very different. It was contemporized in a really clever way, in a really entertaining way, so I was in.
[Referring to the “Fright Night” clip shown during the Comic-Con panel] Typical of my vampire. Colin Farrell is playing a vampire. He has to borrow a six-pack [of beer] off of the neighbor. Some reputations you just can’t shake.
Imogen, can you tell us a little bit about your “Fright Night” character Amy?
Poots: Amy has obviously been in the dark for quite a while, regarding the situation with her boyfriend and why he’s behaving like such a loon. So I think it’s interesting because they’re on this journey together, and everything’s extremely intense. It’s really a playground for their emotions to figure out what they’re going to do with their relationship, and they start to learn each other and themselves in the process. So she has a lot going on. And until everything starts to get a little bit horrifying, she can’t really gauge how seriously to take her boyfriend.
What was it like working with David Tennant?
Yelchin: It was great … David is the nicest, funniest man. Being in the room with that character is such a pleasure, to see him create all of those moments. It’s so exciting. Every take would be different. I love the “Shirley Temple” line. That was so great. And every take, there’d be something like that.
It’s so exciting — same thing with Colin as Jerry — to be in a room with that level of character. It’s such a great pleasure to be able to watch someone create something so interesting and so fascinating. And David’s a great off set too, just in hanging out with him. The whole cast. It was good fun.
For more info: “Fright Night” website
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