The Weekend Rent: Fanged Funnies for Your Own 'Fright Night'

The Weekend Rent: Fanged Funnies for Your Own 'Fright Night'

Aug 19, 2011

Fright Night remakeEven if you were armed with dozens of wooden stakes, you couldn't stop the onslaught of vampires coming at you at the multiplex looking to sink their fangs into your wallet. Lucky for you that the latest in vamp cinema, Fright Night, is a fresh and funny update of the 1985 film of the same name. Fright Night stars Anton Yelchin as Charley Brewster, a high school senior living in Las Vegas who begins to suspect that his new next door neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Colin Farrell), is a vampire. Charley enlists the help of a Criss Angel-type of Sin City showman named Peter Vincent (David Tennant)—who is also a collector of vampire weaponry—to help him save his mother and girlfriend from Jerry's fangs. Farrell is perfectly cast as the confident seducer of women who walks the line between sexy and deadly in this bloody fun 3D update with as many laughs as scares.

Even though the basic plot is essentially the same, the first Fright Night (available only on DVD) is a fang-in-cheek affair with the Peter Vincent character being played by Roddy McDowall as a jittery late-night horror film host. His campy performance along with the whacked-out one by Stephen Geoffreys as Charley's best friend gives this Fright Night a gentler bite than its slick modern-day cousin.

If you like your vampires to tickle your funny bone instead of going for the jugular, there are plenty of films on disc that, like Fright Night, combine belly laughs and bloodletting. In 1979's Love at First Bite, George Hamilton plays a Victorian Age Dracula trying to navigate the dating scene in disco-crazed Manhattan. A young Jim Vampire's KissCarrey—in a rare, understated early performance—plays a high school student who seeks out a fling with a vampire cougar (Lauren Hutton) eager to get her groove back with virgin blood in Once Bitten. The inimitable Grace Jones plays Katrina, a sensual performer at strip club deep in a city's vampire territory, in the 1985 teen comedy Vamp. Although Vampire's Kiss doesn't have an actual vampire in it, Nicolas Cage gives a hilariously unhinged performance as a crazy man who believes he is a vampire in a movie that is infamous for the scene in which Cage eats a live cockroach.

 No discussion of vampire comedies is complete without a mention of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, even if the original movie starring Kristy Swanson as Buffy and Luke Perry as the dude in distress is not as beloved by fans as the subsequent, long-running TV series. Although the movie doesn't have much comic bite, it's fun to watch for little roles by actors who went on to sink their teeth into better projects, Dracula Dead and Loving Itincluding Hilary Swank, David Arquette, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Ricki Lake and Ben Affleck.

After Francis Ford Coppola spearheaded a new Gothic revival with Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1992, Mel Brooks added Drac to his list of parodies in 1995's Dracula: Dead and Loving It. The late Leslie Nielsen stars as the titular Lord of the Vampires, Brooks plays Van Helsing, and Peter MacNicol steals the show as Renfield. Dracula: Dead and Loving It might not be the funniest vampire comedy or even one of Brooks's best films, but a new Fright Night in theaters today shows that there are still dollars to drain from the genre at the box office and on disc.

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