Craig Gillespie’s “Fright Night” remake has found its vampire: Colin Farrell. As reported by THR, he’ll go up against Anton Yelchin as Charlie Brewster in the remake of Tom Holland’s 1985 horror classic. Also joining the fun is Toni Collette, who is on board to play Charlie’s mother, one of many who just can’t resist her bloodsucking neighbor’s charm. Gillespie’s version will stick to the basics of the original, focusing on young Charlie's supicions about his neighbor Jerry, whom he believes to be a vampire. He confides in his mother as well as his best friend, Evil Ed and girlfriend, Amy, but no one believes his accusations.
With vampires continuing to be the hot thing in Hollywood, “Fright Night” should be a welcome edition to a genre that’s on the verge of growing tiresome. We’re not in for another dose of sparkling beasts or even creatures of the night with an affinity for gore. In fact, “Fright Night” is just the opposite; it’s an amalgamation of horror, suspense, camp and the teen factor, a la John Hughes, that feels remarkably real.
Of course, good source material doesn’t guarantee a well-made film, even with such a notable cast attached. Luckily there are tons of hits and misses in the world of horror reboots that Gillespie can consider when assembling the pieces of his re-creation. Check out this list of winners and losers to see where they went right and where they went wrong.
Now this was a film well deserving of the reboot treatment. The brilliance of George A. Romero’s story still exists, but the production itself is dated. Breck Eisner did a superb job picking and choosing from the 1973 original. The general concept remains the same: a small town’s water system is contaminated with a biological weapon which causes the residents to go crazy after ingesting it. However, Eisner ditches the military perspective and sticks with a group of townsfolk fighting for survival, transforming the government into an ominous and often faceless villain.
“Dawn of the Dead”
Oddly enough, here’s another George A. Romero original that was itching for a remake. Zack Snyder did this one justice with his treatment. The whole social commentary element is a key component of what makes Romero’s "Living Dead" series so outstanding, but nowadays that’s not what moviegoers flocking to a zombie film are itching to see. They want blood, they want guts, they want sheer terror and, of course, they want humor. The 2004 version of "Dawn of the Dead" has it all.
“The Last House on the Left”
This one’s a toss up: either you’ve got the stomach for the gratuitous violence & depravity or you don’t. If you fall into the former category, the payoff is huge. Just like Wes Craven’s 1972 original, Dennis Iliadis pours on the graphic violence in his update, making the impact intensely profound. The film’s success is also in large part due to the talent. The brutality of the film is powerful in and of itself, but when you toss in some truly genuine performances it amps up the tension exponentially. Of course, stepping over the line into the territory of unnecessary violence is a major no no and "The Last House on the Left" clearly pinpoints the location of that divide.
Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II”
Writing about this film still makes my blood boil. That needless brutality line? This films crosses it from the moment it begins. From the outset to the final scene, “Halloween II” showcases a monstrous Michael Myers stomping around town, literally bashing helpless victims’ brains in without remorse. The only way to make something like this work is by including an element to justify the violence, namely a plot, but Zombie never delivers one. He inexplicably opts to ditch all sensibility and rely on a series of bizarre dream sequences to strike a chord with viewers. Forget establishing a degree of empathy, all this scenario does is make you laugh.
"Black Christmas" is an all around failure, which is a shame because the 1974 film is often touted as the first official slasher film, one that you could argue is deserving of a proper update. Sadly, Glen Morgan takes his hot young cast and puts them in predictable situations. If you’re going to do a remake, at least attempt to do it right. “Black Christmas” was seemingly put together in a hurry for one purpose: to make bank. Putting a bunch of sorority girls in a house and killing one off every 15 minutes or so doesn’t mean you can do without character development and sensible dialogue. Take a look at the remake of “Sorority Row”. It has its flaws, but proper filmmaking makes it an insanely enjoyable remake, one that uses its gimmicky nature to its benefit.