Combustible Celluloid
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With: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Written by: Marti Noxon, based on a story by Tom Holland
Directed by: Craig Gillespie
MPAA Rating: R for bloody horror violence, and language including some sexual references
Running Time: 106
Date: 08/14/2011

Fright Night (2011)

3 Stars (out of 4)

The Bite Stuff

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The original Fright Night (1985) was a kind of gleeful celebration of old-time horrors, while at the same time commenting upon modern horrors in a humorous way; it also had a slew of modern-day gore and special effects. This new remake essentially stays true to that same formula, with great success. Director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, Mr. Woodcock) and screenwriter Marti Noxon (a veteran of TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") set up a world in which the Twilight books exist, but vampires are beer-drinking handymen rather than brooding teens; they're not necessarily cooler than anybody else, but they are one jump ahead.

In a Las Vegas suburb, Charley (Anton Yelchin) has a pretty new girlfriend (Imogen Poots), and works hard to leave behind his nerdy past. Unfortunately, one of Charley's extra-geeky old friends, Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), shows up, claiming that Charley's mysterious new neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell), is a vampire. Charley tries to ignore the matter, but after Ed disappears, he begins investigating and finds some horrifying evidence. Unfortunately, he finds he has a difficult time getting folks to believe him. He even tries to recruit a local stage magician and self-proclaimed vampire hunter, Peter Vincent (David Tennant). Ultimately, Charley has no choice but to face Jerry himself, help or no help.

The movie sets up a delightfully wry cat-and-mouse game as the heroes search for vampire rules online, and the vampires simply change them on a whim. The breezy direction allows plenty of room for the actors, especially a hammy David Tennant (the current "Doctor Who"), to stretch out and shine. The mood is funny and playful, like a really good late-night movie on TV.

Touchstone released a good Blu-Ray/DVD combo set in December of 2011. Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are strikingly good. It also includes a digital copy. Extras include a making-of featurette, the complete "Squid Man" footage, a "Peter Vincent" video, bloopers, and a music video. All extras are on the Blu-Ray, but only some are on the DVD. A 3D Blu-Ray was released for the few of you that actually own a complete 3D setup at home.
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