There’s nothing that I hate more than seeing someone comparing two movies and not really being fair. I was listening to this podcast Ancient Slumber Podcast Show #4: Original vs. Remake – Fright Night and boy were these two jackasses getting on my nerves with how little points they were making towards their comparison. I decided to do a show of my own, Fright Night | Original vs. Remake – Stream Line Podcast Ep.2, which is hopefully a bit more fair but entertaining. Anyway, decided to put up a post for those who like their comparisons in writing.
The series follows young Charley Brewster, who discovers that his next-door neighbor Jerry Dandrige is a vampire. When no one believes him, Charley decides to get Peter Vincent, a TV show host who acted in films as a vampire hunter, to stop Jerry’s killing spree.
Charley Brewster is the main protagonist of the series, a young adult teen you discovers his neighbor is a vampire. Charley is portrayed by William Ragsdale in the original and by Anton Yelchin in the remake. Honestly, I never much cared for the Charley in the original as I found him to be quite flat. There’s really nothing interesting to his character aside from his relationship with Amy (who provides a lot of much needed personality to their scenes). Yelchin’s portrayal felt a bit more realistic. Of course, he’s not going to be interested in Jerry right off the bat as he has his own life. He’s dealing with things at school, has a good relationship with his mother. For all intents and purposes, he’s just a cool guy. That’s what I think Ragsdale’s portrayal was missing. A life. The entire time he’s obsessing over Jerry in all the worst ways that’s not a reason to like a character. He has to have something worth fighting for and Yelchin gives that.
If there is something to be said about both films is how well Jerry is portrayed. Jerry is the vampire who moves in next door, portrayed by Chris Sarandon in the original and Colin Farrell in the remake. Chris Sarandon hands down is the best part of the original movie. He’s handsome, suave, yet has that mysterious edge to him. He reeks seductive and you can see it in his performance and how he claims his victims. Colin Farrell’s portrayal has that hot edgy, bad boy look to him that women just fall over for. Yeah, he even has this great personality that makes him likable. But there are moments where he’s completely creepy and when he’s serious, he’s serious. Both actors do a great job of portraying the character and in both films he’s completely badass.
A TV show host who acted in films as a vampire hunter who aids Charley in defeating Jerry. I’ve never really liked the character of Peter (Roddy McDowall) because he just feels so cartoony. Even in the remake there’s a certain over-the-top quality that is makes him feel out of place. I’ve never like the idea of a old man trying to stop a centuries old vampire. And like the original Charley, has this timid, nervous look about him. However, in the remake Peter (played by David Tennant) is younger, cocky, and uncaring. True, Peter does bring humor to both films and some hits the mark while others don’t. But to be straight forward, I give this to David Tennant as his portrayal had more depth, more personality, with more going on in the character’s life.
Amy is Charley’s girlfriend, played by Amanda Bearse in the original version and Imogen Poots in the remake. Amy in both versions is actually a pretty likable character and a good contrast to Charley. Bearse and Poots do a fantastic job with the roles and are just hot enough to be believable with the make counterparts. I had no problems with the characters nor the actresses.
Edward “Evil Ed” Thompson
Edward is Charley’s best friend, played by Stephen Geoffreys in the original and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in the remake. Plasse wins this hands down. I’m sorry but in the original Ed is a complete idiot who does and says something completely stupid every chance he got. He’s the only character in the movie that’s a total waste who’s unlikable to the core. Even when he’s a vampire, he’s just over-the-top and it really isn’t called for. In the remake, Plasse portrays a less annoying, more sympathetic Ed. Ostracized by his fellow classmates, abandoned by his former best friend, and now he knows that Jerry is a vampire. It’s no wonder he falls to Jerry’s charms before he gets turned.
The plot is basically the same in both versions, with some slight differences. In the original Charley is aware of Jerry almost immediately but in the remake Charley really doesn’t take notice of Jerry until later on in the film. In the original everything is blatant and in your face, and in the remake, everything is much more subtle. I can honestly say that the stories aren’t deep but they are interesting and entertaining.
Now, it shouldn’t be a contest of which one of these two look better, but in all honesty both have their ups and downs. In the original, there is almost 100 percent use of practical effects and for the most part it totally works. The kill sequences are done well enough and the makeup effects are good. Well, to a certain extinct. There are some moments where the makeup effects are just plain shitty. But the more subtle aspects work best. Sometimes the enlarged teeth look ridiculous. The best example of the great use of practical is when Amy is transformed. The vampire bat scene is good but looks like crap.
On the flip side, the remake focuses much more CGI and like the original, sometimes the CGI works and sometimes it doesn’t. The Jerry transformations look cool but sometimes the CGI is just a little too obvious. I love the hulking, monstrous look of Jerry when he’s transformed. When they transform the vampires have crooked needle-like teeth which makes their bites more intimidating. There is the sequence where Amy is a vampire and it looks cool but it gets pretty obvious in the following sequence. So, in terms of special effects they’re pretty equal.
Can’t really judge which one is better because both have solid musical compositions. Brad Fiedel (1985) and Ramin Djawadi (2011) do a great job when it comes to the way the film holds its dark tone while introducing new themes that pay homage to traditional vampire films.
I hated a lot of the writing of the original. There were so many problems that were in your face that it made the movie painful to watch at times. I still don’t understand how a teen trying to have sex will just all-of-a-sudden stop to see who’s moving in next door, it makes no sense. Even when we see Jerry’s first victim he’s biting her in front of an open window where Charley can clearly see him, and even though the house is really big he couldn’t have bit her in another room? Jerry is written to be a more traditional vampire and I still don’t understand why in the hell Jerry didn’t kill Charley and his mother when he was in their home. Most of the characters are written to be quite shallow with not much going for them. Yeah, it’s the 80’s so there is some kookiness with the writing, some ridiculousness here and there but it’s the mixture of horror and humor that make it good. Because of this, I’m willing to give it a little leeway as this was how things were written back then.
The writing is better in the remake although clearly not perfect. Jerry’s reason for moving to the neighbor makes sense and due to the problems of the economy does help him stay under the radar, look less suspicious. Jerry is written to be a mixture of traditional and modern vampire and it works. I didn’t like the whole subplot where Peter has encountered Jerry in the past because it’s a little far-fetched. I love that the writing fleshes out the characters a bit more, especially the relationship between Jerry and his mother and more of what’s going on with Edward. Certain elements (the romance and humor) that were touched upon in the original are actually better refined though at the cost of the horror. Also, there is this thing where Jerry is capturing people and holding them in small cells under his home and it’s an interesting idea but never really elaborated on.
In the end, the 2011 remake takes the win but it’s by a slight margin. The writing is more refined and the characters are better fleshed out.
Thanks for checking out the post and in the comment section below let us know which of these are your favorite, the original or the remake.