Thursday, August 18, 2011

‘Fright Night’: Back to the ’80s

WHILE THE GENERAL economy suffers, the Hollywood '80s remake factory continues to work overtime, this week cranking out "Fright Night" and a "Conan" do-over.

The former turns out to be a competent update of the much-loved 1985 B movie, which featured Roddy

McDowell as a schlocky TV personality who helps a teen kill the vampire next door.

The new "Fright Night" is pointlessly released in 3-D, but most of the money goes to the right places, a smartly chosen cast and script. Anton Yelchin is the teen, Colin Farrell the vampire, and there are small roles filled by good actors (Toni Collette and Christopher Mintz-Plasse). I also like Imogen Poots as Yelchin's girlfriend, although like all the "teens" in the cast, she's 23, and should be out of college by now.

The setting is moved to Las Vegas and its 'burbs, and the cheesy entertainer who doubles as a vampire slayer is a casino nightclub act (David Tennant, whose performance grows on you).

It's a nocturnal town where a foraging vampire might thrive, and where the residential neighborhoods are dotted with empty, foreclosed homes ideal for a nesting vampire.

The moribund real estate market is more than a resonant detail. It leads to the most fantastic bit of product placement I've ever seen in a movie. Century 21 should be proud.

Director Craig Gillespie walks a stable line between horror and comedy, honoring the spirit of the original, recapturing the feel of the general Goonies/Gremlins/Lost Boys era.

That separates "Fright Night" from next week's remake, "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," all horror and cowritten by Guillermo Del Toro, who has promised his version will make people "poop in their pants."

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