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Fright Night (2011)

by Jake Mynatt

Edgar had just turned twelve when the original Fright Night debuted in 1985, but he was already sporting a thick handlebar mustache and look of perpetual despair that helped him pass for at least twenty seven. Before he discovered the ease at which he could attain liquor and pornography, he used his appearance to get into R-rated movies. And the first film he saw with this new found freedom was the original Fright Night.

“Full on, balls-to-the-wall awesome… and it’s got tits!” is how he described his memory of it as Gary put the DVD of the 2011 remake in the player. As often as I find myself disagreeing with Edgar’s tastes, on this I found myself in strange agreement with him.

Gary had once again found himself as Edgar’s sole caretaker as Penelope decided she “needed to get her shit together”. This occurred to her the first time Edgar needed his adult diaper changed and Gary was nowhere to be found. To be fair, she toughed it out for a minute or two, but when Edgar chuckled and said “come on, now! Get in there!” she threw in both the metaphorical and literal towel.

So with Edgar graduated to big boy pants, with a pizza on the way, the movie began. Immediately we’re thrust into the bloody action. A family massacred. Throats torn out. The goblin-esque features of the attacking creature shown in quick glimpses.

“You sure this is Fright Night?,” Edgar moaned.

“I guess,” Gary said with a shrug.

The doorbell rang, and I felt myself salivating. I had developed a Pavlovian response when I know pizza was on the way. Somehow the unfulfilled craving brought on by the aroma of cheap chain store pizza was more potent than the actual consumption of it. With Penelope gone, there had been nothing but pizza for dinner for two weeks.

As the film continued to distance itself from the original in incalculable ways, I was surprised to hear not a pizza delivery at the door, but Gary’s new neighbor, Doyle.

“I’m throwin’ a bash,” Doyle explained, “I was wonderin’ if you wanted to come on by.…”

There was an abrupt slam of the door, followed by a chilled silence.

Anton Yelchin proceeded to defile the role of Charlie Brewster, played just fine by William Ragsdale in the original, until finally Edgar called out “Hey Gary! You there, bud? You can come turn this crap off now!”

But there was no response.

As a rule, I’m generally not against remakes. Hell, the original Fright Night was practically a remake of Rear Window. But the original managed to capture the paranoia and tension of the film it drew its roots from. And it gave us the great performance of Stephen Geoffreys as “Evil” Ed that was at all times hideous, hilarious, and heartbreaking. Here we get McLovin’ with bad CGI.

“Where’s the tits, man?” Edgar groaned. And yeah. He’s right. The original had that too.

The doorbell rang again. And once again my mouth began to water.

“Come on in!” Edgar shouted.

The front door opened and the pizza delivery guy entered with a piping hot extra cheese and pepperoni.

“You all alone?” He asked, looking around the room.

“Yeah man,” Edgar answered, looking helpless with limbs suspended in casts. “Put a slice in my mouth, dude.”

“No, I don’t think I’ll do that.” The delivery guy picked up a couple prescription bottles from the table, his eyebrows raised along with his smile. “This is the real shit, huh?”

He popped open the bottle and tossed a couple pills in his mouth then turned to the TV. 

“What’s this shit?” He huffed. At this point, Colin Farrel was sinking his teeth into a beautiful young woman’s throat. “We gonna see some tits or what?”

“Nah, man,” Edgar shook his head, “go ahead and turn it off.”

“I’m gonna jet,” the delivery guy said, completely ignoring his much more reasonable request. As he walked to the front door, he turned, “dude next door is havin’ a sick party, said I could stop in.”

Edgar had long given up on the movie and dedicated himself to inching his way towards the pizza that was left on the coffee table. I decided that the best shot I had at staving off the maddening craving for pizza would be to concentrate on the movie.

It would be unfair to judge the film solely by how it stacks up against the original. I kept an open mind throughout, trying to chronicle what I liked about it.

Colin Farrell was quite good. He gave a creepy, low key performance. And while Roddy McDowall was sorely missed as Peter Vincent, David Tennant was enjoyable to watch in a new spin on the role as a David Blaine-like blowhard.  And keep an eye out for Chris Sarandon in a nice little cameo.

By the time Edgar had inched his way to the pizza, it was cold as the credits had begun to roll in the background. I was left with the feeling that what I had seen was inconsequential. I was ultimately at peace with this being a stand-alone one-off. It would not be seen as a definitive version, and at best could be considered a nice try.

Just about then, Gary came stumbling in reeking heavily of tequila. He swooped in and snatched a slice of pizza, then dropped to the couch and looked at the television in time to find out who the Best Boy was (Nikki LeBlanc).

“So did this have any tits in it or what?”

As Edgar began to weep, Gary opened the DVD player and tossed in another disc. Soon, the opening of the original “Fright Night” began to play. After hoisting him to the couch, Gary helped Edgar ingest a few slices of pizza along with the few remaining painkillers not pilfered by the delivery guy.

“You’re a pretty cool dude.” Edgar said.

Gary just nodded and ate his pizza.

And for the moment I once again found myself in strange agreement with Edgar.

Jake Mynatt is a writer as Charles Manson is a singer/songwriter. By trade, he's a computer guy. He's married, and loving it so much he hopes to start dozens of secret families all over the country. That's just a joke, unless you're interested. Send headshots and a signed pre-nup to jake.mynatt [at] theinclusive.net