Let's just get this right out of the way, because it's too cool not to blurt out: Chris Sarandon moderated the panel for Dreamworks' upcoming remake of Tom Holland's FRIGHT NIGHT. Yes, Chris Sarandon, who played Jerry Dandridge in the original, standing up there with the new crew, which included Colin Farrell (the "new" Jerry), Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, screenwriter Marti Noxon and director Craig Gillespie. Sarandon's presence highlighted the good will that the studio and filmmakers are hoping to dig up for the remake, which certainly has been looked at with a skeptical eye by horror hounds everywhere.
We were ringside for a handful of FRIGHT NIGHT clips, at least one of which was quite impressive. I'll get to that one last.
First clip has Evil Ed (Mintz-Plasse) and Charley (Anton Yelchin) stalking around the empty house of their missing friend while Ed attempts to convince Charley that his new neighbor is a vampire. Ed says this isn't the brooding, love-sick vampire of those in the TWILIGHT world (one of a couple of shots this flick makes at TWILIGHT's expense), but something more akin to the shark from Jaws. A vicious killing machine. Charley isn't quite buying it.
However, Charley begins to come around in the second clip, which shows a confrontation between him and Jerry. You can actually watch this clip below.
Charley is even more serious about this vampire business in the next clip, which sees him look for the assistance of Peter Vincent, played wonderfully by David Tennant. In this incarnation, Vincent is a drunken "illusionist" in the Criss Angel/David Blaine mold, with a bit of Russell Brand swagger thrown in. Charley, seeking advice on how to kill a bloodsucker, listens as Vincent describes the obvious methods (stake through the heart, beheading) and at least one un-obvious one (a garlic omelet). All the while, Vincent sheds his image - literally - by peeling off a wig, fake goatee, removable sideburns and clip-on eyebrow piercing.
The last clip was an extended look at what happens when shit starts to hit the fan. Charley, now fully in the know about Jerry's nasty nocturnal habits, has proceeded to decorate his room with crosses and hang cloves of garlic from the windows. His mother and girlfriend think he's joking, but they're soon convinced the hard way: Jerry blows up Charley's house, saying "Don't have to be invited if there's no house," which is excellent logic. The trio of frightened potential victims drive off, thinking they've left Jerry behind, but he's right on their tail. He's not easy to get rid of, as they find out after mowing him down with their car and he clings to the bottom of it, smashing through the floor with his "fucked up vampire hand", as Charley calls it. After this encounter, no one will doubt that Jerry means bloody business.
The footage promised a movie that's fairly faithful to the original's tone of "fun" horror. It's not quite a comedy and it's not tongue-in-cheek, but it's not taking itself completely seriously either. In terms of the actors, Yelchin is especially good, while Mintz-Plasse does exactly what you'd expect from him. Farrell's Jerry is just as suave as Sarandon's (who said that he was happy to pass the torch on), although Farrell is a little more of a heedless psycho, where as Sarandon played Jerry as a man who just wants to be left alone. Colin Farrell's Jerry is not one for subtlety.
After the footage, which was in 3D, fans got to ask some questions of the stars on stage. (Folks disappointed that David Tennant wasn't available in person got a treat when we were shown a nice video message from the man, who is currently in London.) Here are some highlights:
- Sarandon noted how, in the original, they were very focused on creating concrete relationships between the characters, and he thinks the remake does that too, "in spades".
- Colin Farrell apparently was reluctant to take on the role of Jerry, the reason being that he was dubious about the fact that they were remaking a movie that he's loved since an eleven-year-old kid. But he was engaged by Noxon's script and wanted to do a project that wasn't as "heavy" as some of the others that he'd recently done. The script was a perfect combination of homage to the original and its own unique entity. (He's also a big fan of vampire films in general, specifically THE LOST BOYS, NEAR DARK and NOSFERATU.
- One audience member noted that Anton Yelchin often plays characters that have been originally played by other actors, like Chekov in STAR TREK, Kyle Reese in TERMINATOR: SALVATION and now FRIGHT NIGHT. Yelchin considers himself lucky to get these opportunities, because the characters have such rich histories. He said it's an honor to take on these characters, and he has a blast doing the research on them. He also goes on to say that he doesn't want the remakes/sequels to compete with the originals; he just wants them to be their own interpretations.
- Craig Gillespie, responding to a question about how his film will recreate the epic vampire transformation that happens toward the end of the original FRIGHT NIGHT, said he didn't want to shy away from the iconic make-up, and he pays homage to the original on that front, in addition to some other subtle references.
- Christopher Mintz-Plasse has no idea what the status of KICK-ASS 2 is.
- Marti Noxon makes an offhand reference to a potential sequel, provided this one makes enough money. In the sequel we'd perhaps learn more about Jerry's origins.