Former "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" writer Marti Noxon tackled the script for Craig Gillespie's forthcoming "Fright Night" remake, starring Colin Farrell as a bloodthirsty vampire who heads to suburbia and terrorizes his next-door neighbor Charlie, played by "Star Trek" veteran Anton Yelchin. Yes, technically you can add this one to the increasing pile of Hollywood reboots and remakes — but that doesn't mean this 1985 horror-comedy classic wasn't worth revisiting for today's audience.
When I spoke with Noxon for MTV's Summer Movie Preview week, we talked about the need to return to "Fright Night," how the movie handles current perceptions of the vampire genre, and what Yelchin and his distinguished cast members brought to the table for the upcoming remake. Read about all that and more past the jump.
MTV News: It's no secret that movie fans don't always have a taste for "the dreaded reboot." Coming from your background writing on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which is also going through the reboot process, what did you see in "Fright Night" that made it worth revisiting?
Marti Noxon: There were a couple of things. One was this opportunity to write a different kind of vampire. There've been a lot of the romantic kinds of vampires around lately, and I love that, but I was also just hungering for a vampire that was more like "Jaws." In the original, the Chris Sarandon character falls a little bit more into the pining vampire category, but he's still pretty terrifying and lethal. We saw an opportunity to just really go for that.
The other part of it was that I'm a huge fan of the old Amblin movies. There were some qualities to the original that reminded me of that — the kid living in suburbia living with a single mom, and the relationship between Evil Ed and Charlie, and that really spoke to my inner-nerd and my outer-nerd. [Laughs] I remember being in school and some friends had matured faster and you'd be the geek, then you'd mature and maybe they were a bit behind. I thought there was something very relatable to write about there, how you feel about your friends if one of you gets popular and the other's still playing with their toys in the 10th grade.
MTV News: I absolutely cannot relate to that. [Laughter] For you, what was the tone you were trying to strike in writing "Fright Night"? Were you going for tongue-in-cheek, something a little bit darker?
Noxon: I was excited by the opportunity to write grounded characters who went to this very fantastic world. In that way, it reminded me of "Buffy." I felt that I had an opportunity to write some humor and comment on where the vampire genre is in 2011. Twenty years after the original, these characters are a lot more aware of the clichés and tropes of vampires, and it was a lot of fun going about that. We have some fun with misconceptions based on other popular movies in the genre. There's a wink, and quite a bit of it, because the audience is in on the joke—you might think a vampire is someone you can hang out with, and that is a bad idea. [Laughs] In our movie? That's a bad idea! There's a little bit of fun with that.
Plus, now you can go on the Internet and search 'how to kill a vampire' and get 75,000,000 hits, and we had fun with that, too. The world is soaked with mythology and lore and they contradict each other. If you were a reasonable person in an unreasonable situation, how would you sort through all this mess? I kept asking myself as I wrote: 'Okay, this is really happening. What would I do?' I hope that when you see Charlie's evolution, you'll go, 'Yeah, that's the reasonable next step!'
MTV News: There were a lot of great actors and classic performances in the original movie. As a writer, were those voices at the forefront of your mind as you were writing these characters?
Noxon: I think that certain characters, I hewed more closely to their character types [from the original], like obviously Evil Ed and Peter Vincent are very specific in where they come from and their points of view. But once you see the movie, you'll see that David Tennant completely makes that character his own, even though they have similar qualities. Same goes for [Christopher] Mintz-Plasse. He takes that Evil Ed and puts his spin on it. But what's similar about those characters, in the Evil Ed case, is they both have a sharp sense of humor and this great depth of knowledge about all kinds of geekery. Those two I'd say I was the most influenced by the original film.
Then there's Anton – I think he's going to be huge. He has such humanity. He's so likeable. He's a perfect Spielbergian hero, you know? He's human-sized, and yet, he feels things so deeply and he makes you feel them too. That was really true across the board. They just dug in and pretended that it wasn't a horror movie—it's just a movie where some crazy stuff is happening. Anton, first and foremost, he just really brought it.
Are you looking forward to "Fright Night"? Let us know what you think in the comments section and on Twitter!