So, I watched FRIGHT NIGHT in the first week of its release, and I’m a little stymied that it’s not doing so well. Maybe I shouldn’t be; it was dumped at the ass end of August when theaters are filled with crap and crowded with successful movies still pulling in ticket sales. There were literally two theaters where I could see it.
Thing is, it’s actually a good movie. Scary, kinda gory but not too bad (I can’t stand really gory gross movies) and filled with terrific performances. Farrell plays the vampire Jerry Dandridge as an odd, alarming guy with a number of weird tics. And why not? This is a dude who spends a whole, whole lot of time alone.
The other actors do a great job, too: David Tennant gets the flashy, wacky Peter Vincent sidekick role which almost overshadows the great performances from the two leads. The story loses something when it turns away from the fading TV show host, but at least it dropped the god-awful “true love reborn.” They should have held it until October when horror movies traditionally do well.
Anyway, it’s a terrific movie with some fantastic tension; I recommend it. One of the reasons I wanted to talk about it, though, is that I’ve seen a number of people talking about the vampire as a monster. Vampires should not, they assert, be emo love kittens, nor should they sparkle, nor should they be anything but skilled, violent killers.
That’s even made explicit in the film, which I suppose is necessary since sympathetic vampires have been so popular that they needed to draw a line between those other stories and this one. The vampire is compared to the shark in JAWS early on. It’s a predator.
None of which is new. Some of this is contempt for the feminine and things perceived to be meant for women (“Alpha male romantic lead? Cooties!”). Some of this is simply because people love vampire-as-monster and have no interest in other interpretations.
Me, I’m glad to see it. I think vampires are flexible enough to carry all sorts of different stories, and people’s willingness to portray them not as an invading evil (Stoker’s Dracula was portrayed as an ugly Slavic immigrant come to steal wholesome Victorian women) but in any number of ways: Lover, friend, oddball neighbor, steadfast ally… Kevin Hearne’s books have a vampire lawyer in them. It’s the process of turning outsiders and monsters in to fully-rounded individuals, of acknowledging they have real humanity.
I’m for it.