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Fright Night Redux

  • September 7, 2011 8:18 pm


Fright Night is my favorite horror/Halloween movie, so I was surprised when I read about a remake slated for August 2011. I saw the 3D version last week, and was impressed with a few scenes, but the lure was of this vampire flick was not strong enough for me to add it to my annual Halloween movie lineup.

Most characters do not surpass the original actors in the 1985 cast. Much has changed in 26 years, including advances in technology, but a lot of that leaves me with an empty feeling. The fight scene between Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) was laughably Matrix-like and nothing like a version of the original in which Evil Ed visits Peter Vincent “Vampire Killer” at his home.

A burning cross pressed to the forehead, by Roddy McDowall as Vincent, opens the attack sequence. Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) transforms into a ferocious wolf creature who tries to attack him before Vincent drives a stake into his heart and returns him to human form. This struggle is forever burned in my memory and is just as heart-pounding today as it was when I first watched the film more than 10 years ago.

And the relationship between Charley Brewster, the prying next-door-neighbor to vampire Jerry Dandrige, is not as nuanced as the original between William Ragsdale and Chris Sarandon. In an interview with Rue Morgue magazine, Sarandon talks about how he contributed input to the story by original writer/director Tom Holland.

He shared ideas like having Jerry eat an apple (most bats are not vampiric but eat fruit, so he thought it would be interesting for Jerry to have this in his genetic code) and adding a back story to his entanglement with Amy Peterson (Amanda Bearse). She looked exactly like a young woman he had known from his past. Part of his delight in pursuing her is to annoy Charley, who has already incurred his wrath by watching him bite victims from his second-story window. But his seductive dance with Amy at a club looks like the two have a real connection. I can still hear the song playing, “I don’t need a book to show me how” as her preppy hair turns into a voluminous ’80s pouf midway through her dangerous dance with Jerry.

Sarandon has a cameo in this film, but don’t look for him to be the one sinking his teeth into a victim’s neck.

The one character who does surpass the original is Toni Collette as Jane Brewster, Charley’s mother. She is involved in her son’s life and is much more supportive against their vampire neighbor as in the first movie, where Dandridge ingratiated himself to her and they became allies of sorts in their opinion that Charlie was simply imagining things.

This updated version of Dandrige is Colin Farrell. He gives an aggressive and solid performance, but the seduction factor is not meant to be there in this adaption. He is described as a killing machine, keeping his victims locked in back rooms to snack on and torment.

He is not the smooth and sexy “GQ vampire” but a rugged guy-next-door with dark good looks and a black Dodge Ram pickup truck. He huffs and puffs and even blows the house up when not invited in the traditional “you-must-be invited” rule to all vampires hoping to occupy a house.

He doesn’t have quite the intensity with Amy (Imogen Poots) as in the original, but he does turn her into a beast with a jaw-dropping bite.

The character you love to hate but most enjoy watching is a leather pants wearing, Las Vegas magician version of Peter Vincent played by David Tennant. Unlike the whimpering but eventually fearless vampire killer, he abuses his staff and pretends that vampirism is just another show on the strip — but he knows better.

My favorite scene in the movie is when he is hit in the head while battling Dandrige in his basement. He says “is that all, a pebble?” But this single blood drop triggers a vicious attack by humans who have been “turned” by Dandrige.

Soundtracks are important to me when watching any type of film, and I absolutely loved the original soundtrack. I remember the songs playing in the club and when Jerry unties Amy’s white halter dress at the neck. The songs were perfectly suited to each scene. My top picks are Fright Night, written by Joe Lamont and performed by J. Geils Band, Good Man in a Bad Time written by Marc Tanner and Jon Reede and performed by Ian Hunter, Give it Up by Dennis Matkosky and Bobby Caldwell and performed by Evelyn “Champagne” King and Come to Me written by James McMillan, Arnie Roman and Matthew Pateman and performed by Brad Fiedel.

Unfortunately, the soundtrack isn’t available, but you can hear some clips on YouTube.

Fright Night 2011 doesn’t strive to replicate the original. A few of the same classic lines are spoken by Jerry Dandrige: “You have to have faith for this to work,” referring to Charley holding up a cross to fend him off, and “Welcome to Fright Night … for real.”

Maybe it’s because I love the first film so much that nothing could surpass it, but I don’t believe most remakes ever eclipse the original. I think the best thing about remakes is the attention they create that allows some new generations of movie goers to learn about the film that may be gathering dust on video rental shelves, and hopefully, watch the original.

I thoroughly enjoyed Rue Morgue editor Dave Alendander’s Note from the Underground in the magazine’s August issue. He described his memory of renting the movie in its VHS form, and I have that same nostalgia of feeling the weight of the case and admiring the outstanding artwork that attracted me to pick it up in the first place.

A swirling blue cloud of ghouls, and in the center, a vampire that is getting ready to take a bite out of suburbia. An unforgettable cover to a classic movie that is brought to the forefront again. I hope it receives all the attention it deserves.

 

Screen Scares

  • June 27, 2011 2:42 pm

These movies are some of my favorites to watch throughout the year, but I usually revisit them around Halloween. Movies from the ’80s may lack some of the CGI effects we are used to seeing now, but the characters and story and still entertaining. Enjoy looking at the clips below and feel free to leave comments about them or suggest some that I may not have listed.

 

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Halloween News

  • October 7, 2010 6:22 pm

 

This year is shaping up to be one of the best yet. Halloween spending is up again in 2010 and is expected to net nearly $6 billion. The National Retail Federation also reports that Americans plan to spend $66.28 on candy, costumes and decorations. The holiday falls on a Sunday this year, which allows for a full weekend of entertaining and parties. 

From my personal shopping experience, Target and Grandin Road have provided the best quality. Prices are higher at the latter, but the online site does offer some good sales as Halloween nears. Another place to score some deals on costumes and collectibles is eBay. I have never seen prices this low for items such as Department 56 and Radko. I managed to bid on an ornament that retailed for $46 and I paid $12. 

The most fun for me is mixing the old with the new to create a different scene each year. For example, I found some purple LED bat lights at Target and twisted them throughout a black tree I had. I didn’t have to purchase ornaments for it, and the lights were about $10.

purple bat lights

Here’s a breakdown of what is most popular:

  • Top costumes: Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland, Lady GaGa, Avatar Neytiri, Avatar Jake Sully, Ironman Whiplash. Source: buycostumes.com 
  • Top candy: Snickers, Nestle Crunch, Butterfinger, M&Ms, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars, Brach’s Candy Corn, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (this year a dark chocolate cup is mixed in with the milk chocolate), Kit Kat, Almond Joy. Among children, the most popular specialty items are wax lips and fangs, candy necklaces, chocolate or gummy body parts, Cry Babies sour gum, Pop Rocks Pumpkin Patch Orange, caramel apple pops, candy eyeballs, Zotz Fizz candy, Harry Potter Droobles best blowing cotton candy bubblegum and peanut butter Kisses. Source: candycrate.com 
  • Top songs: “The Addams Family,” Monster Mash,” “Toccata and Fugue,” “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” “Halloween Theme.”  Soure: Rateitall.com

How do you spend your Halloween? Leave a comment below and share your favorite Halloween shopping, decorating or party tips. 



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The regular roundup of home decor and women’s magazines contained some great information this year on Halloween decorating. I’ll go through the best picks. I subscribe to several fashion magazines and was surprised to see a spread in Harper’s Bazaar October 2009 featuring Tim Burton’s Magical Fashion. This was truly a delight and something I will save for future costume inspiration. Skeleton limbs intermingle with black dresses against a nightmarish backdrop that fans expect and love in a Burton production.

Crafty Projects

  • September 7, 2010 11:35 pm

 

watermelon jack-o-lantern

A melon gets in on pumpkin fun

It’s September and pumpkins have appeared in stores. Some are black, some are fuchsia, but real orange pumpkins have yet to appear. I could purchase a fake pumpkin to carve, but I crave the real thing. Fortunately, I had a great crop of watermelons this summer, and there were a few to spare , so I thought watermelons could perform a double service of providing a little Halloween fun on Labor Day and offering us one last sweet summer taste.

I didn’t scoop them out. Instead I used a chef’s knife to carve faces into Black Diamond and Jubilee watermelons. Although their smiles weren’t lit with candles, the sun cast its rays onto the pink flesh with an eerily different kind of effect than traditional October pumpkins. 

So thanks to these two watermelons for creating a little bit of Halloween magic at summer’s end.

watermelons as pumpkins

Two watermelons start off the Halloween season early

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witchy woman
This witchy woman has cat green eyes and a feline hat

This blank Styrofoam head had been staring at me all year long, waiting to be brought to life for some purpose. I had a witch hat that really didn’t belong anywhere in particular, so I thought about combing some old Halloween wigs from previous years with this hat.

I wanted to create a more attractive witch for something a little different. We so often see witches with green, craggy faces, hook noses and the requisite black mole.
Her skin tone came out a little too rosy, but I think her eyes are evil looking, with a coat of peridot acrylic paint and black eyebrows that go up in an angry slash  angle.
She’s on the mantle this year with the more traditional witches, and so far, she has had a startling effect on guests, with her realistic hair and sort of haughty expression. Best of all, this look didn’t cost much. In fact, I didn’t buy anything new this year except the hat, which I got on sale at Cracker Barrel.