Saturday, August 27, 2011

Two Versions Of The Fright Night Remake That Could Have Been ...

As I mentioned earlier this week, I was a fan of the Fright Night remake. I found the first half to be rather slow and dull but I was quite entertained by the latter half, enough that I was pleased with the complete picture. So it's not that I have a problem with the film, but I can't help but feel it could've been a much more entertaining experience all around, much like the original film still to this day is. Why do I say this? Because there were two pitches made for the film before the version that hit theatres last weekend came to life and I wanted to take a minute today to take a look at the two different Fright Night's we very well could have experienced had things taken a bit of a different course.


The first idea hails from way back in late 2009, as reported on by horror news site Shock Till You Drop. As far as I know it's never been confirmed if this was truly an idea that was being strongly considered, but it's perhaps the most clever and brilliant take on a remake that i've ever heard. The basic idea was that in this version, a young kid who thinks a vampire has moved next door to him would seek out the help not of a horror host or a stage magician but rather of actor Chris Sarandon, who played Jerry Dandridge in the original Fright Night. Much like Wes Craven did with New Nightmare, this version would have existed in a world where the original Fright Night was just a film but this one is reality, which is totally brilliant if ya ask me. A lot of the fun of Fright Night '85 came from the whole referencing of and playing on horror movies thing, which is something that was lost in the remake, and this is just about the freshest and cleverest update on that idea that a fan could ever dream up. Sarandon did have a kickass cameo in the Fright Night remake that came to fruition, albeit a very brief one, but I absolutely would have loved to see him back on the big screen in a starring role, taking a meta approach to one of his most iconic roles. God damn, this movie could've been awesome.


That's Todd Farmer, co-writer of the super fun films My Bloody Valentine 3D & Drive Angry. I'm a mega fan of Farmer's, both as a writer and a person, and it's because of this that I follow his blog Wendago, which he has been writing on for the past decade. Last week, Farmer made a post on there about the idea he and his filmmaking partner Patrick Lussier (director of the afformentioned two films) pitched a couple years back. Their idea, as meta as the one above, was to re-team Tom Atkins and Jamie Lee Curtis and set their Fright Night in a world where Fright Night was a Hammer film that had tons of sequels, which were all remade by Atkins/Curtis in the 80's. It's a little confusing for me to try to explain, so i'll let Farmer take it from here ...

"So Patrick and I put together our take for FRIGHT NIGHT the remake. We’d do the same thing we did with MBV. Update it while keeping classic elements. Make it scary and make sure the characters were smart. Especially the villain. For instance, you don’t order a pizza then kill the deliver boy. Same as you don’t order a hot hooker then kill her in your upstairs bedroom. Be smarter, Jerry. Our remake rule simply followed what Carpenter did with THE THING and Cronenberg did with THE FLY. Update it while keeping classic elements.

Therefore in our version Roddy McDowell WAS Peter Vincent. But Vincent had died of old age after a long distinguished career as the star of over a hundred Hammer Films. Roddy’s face would be prevalent throughout the film. A handful of Peter Vincent’s movies had been remade by Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Atkins. Her seductress Vampire Hunter and his no-nonsense detective sidekick. But even they were flirting with the end of their careers as their last remake, Fright Night 4D: Smell the Blood, didn’t do so well at the box office. Like many horror icons, they end up working the convention circuit."


Though a smart and highly ambitious idea, a critique on current day horror films just like the original was at the time, the pitch was a bit too smart for the dude at the studio who makes the decisions, who just didn't seem to get it. Sigh.

Thus, we ended up with a pretty straight forward modern day re-telling of Tom Holland's original. Again, not bashing that movie or the direction the writer/director went, but it's always interesting to look back and imagine what it would've been like if early pitches and ideas ended up getting greenlit. I have no doubt in my mind that these two ideas above would've made for a far more exciting Fright Night 2011, one that a heck of a lot more horror fans would've gotten behind. Just goes to show that studios are less likely to take chances on horror remakes than they are to stay a bit too close to the source material, with few new or creative ideas injected into the mix, which is kinda sad and unfortunately results in far too many inferior remakes. That said, it's good to know there are still writers out there pitching highly unique and creative ideas, whether they're getting made or not.


Todd Farmer said...

Sarandon's face and my butt. So very wrong!

I recall hearing a Christopher Lee idea where Lee played himself. And I know Juliet Snowden and Stiles White of Knowing, pitched but never asked Stiles their take. Had not heard the Sarandon as himself idea. That too would have been fun. :)

Johnny said...

Thanks for the comment, Todd! Did you see the Fright Night remake yet?