As much as we fans love to think, “our” favorite movies, favorite TV show are classics and originals and should remain untouched, most of the time they’re not. Someone was inspired by, ripped off, or downright retold the ghost haunting, witch terrorizing, or transformation feature from our black and white movie past. Fright Night and The Fly are among those which have been remade over the years.
Music, movies, and television provide fantastic memories, but to the studios that own them, movies are a product and property to sell. At the least, they want a return on their investment and a long-running franchise at the most. Let’s look at a few movie remakes that I enjoyed. I do not plan on doing the “the best & the worst” of movie remakes, that’s been done before. I just wanna make a brief comparison and share my feelings on both. Let’s just jump right in.
Fright Night, 26 years between the two movies…
Fright Night (1985)
The original Fright Night is about a seductive vampire named Jerry Dandrige who moves in next door to a high school kid named Charlie Brewster. Brewster does everything he can to convince people of the existence of this vampire to no avail. The annoyed vampire soon threatens Brewster and his mother, Judy. This forces Brewster to seek the aid of his friend Evil Ed and aging actor and late-night creep show star Peter Vincent.
This movie is complete 1980s laissez-faire. It is a fun, campy, sexy, creepy horror/comedy movie, full of color and a 1980s techno soundtrack. It has its moments of suspense and terror, but the special effects, mostly practical, unfortunately haven’t aged well over the years. Still, it’s a movie I enjoyed, and many consider a classic.
This version of Fright Night is a little more suspenseful and a tad more real in its initial presentation. The soundtrack helps the movie out a lot. The basics are there, a maniacal and handsome vampire named Jerry Dandrige moves in next door to a high school kid named Charlie Brewster and his mother, Judy. In this case, Ed, Brewster’s best friend, discovers the existence of the vampire. Ed attempts to convince Brewster of this fact no avail. The annoyed vampire eventually goes after Ed. After Ed goes missing, Jerry the vampire attacks Brewster, Judy, and his girlfriend, Amy. Brewster is forced to approach the Las Vegas Magician and Master of the “Dark Arts” Peter Vincent.
There might be some purists who disagree, but I found the new version to be a very creative retelling. It doesn’t scare me, but I enjoyed the pacing and the modern special effects. The humor is subtle; for example, a vampire keeping an extra house-key in a rock. The transformation special effects stand out to me the most, as well as the “vampires not appearing on video” camera gag (a joke I used in my novel, before the release of the movie, so maybe that’s why I like it). Overall I enjoyed it, and I felt the climax of the film was creative, different, and intense.
The Fly, 28 years between the two movies…
The Fly (1958)
As a child, I watched The Fly in black and white, and the ending horrified me. The movie is based on the story by George Langelaan and starts out as a mystery with the possible murder or accidental death of Andre Delambre. Helene Delambre is Andre’s wife, and she is tasked with retelling the story of Andre’s scientific experiments with teleportation. She must tell his brother François Delambre and Police Inspector Charas as much as she can about the time leading up to his death.
A fly accidentally enters a teleportation pod, causing a mutation that consists of the swapping of heads and one appendage, and the effects are first-rate…for their time. The superior acting all but erases any flaws in this movie’s limited special effects. The suspense is perfect, and the investigative opening of the movie that ends in a horrifying, haunting, and sad twist still affects me to this day. I can see why many may not have wanted a remake of this film.
The Fly (1986)
The Fly reboot is a fun suspenseful, gory, and tragic version that could never quite live up to the original presentation of this story. To change things up, they added a love triangle element between Seth Brundle, Veronica Quaife, and Stathis Borans. The movie allows us to see the horror through two sets of eyes, Seth’s and Veronica’s. This reboot is somewhat suspenseful but picks up steam by focusing on Seth Brundle’s transformation into BrundleFly (with the same reasoning as the original — a fly accidentally entering a teleportation pod). I liked the present day feel to this film, and the director was able to get the best from the actors involved. The practical effects still hold up, and the ending is gory, horrific, and sad.
To be honest, it is a rare occasion when you can find something positive to say about an original film and its remake. Who knows, maybe it’s the timing between the two movies that matters. Allowing the fans to forget or “age out” may lend the new creators the opportunity to add their own twist to the material and take advantage of modern technology.
I am also willing to give things a chance if I think the makers have a love for the material and aren’t using it as a money grab. Remakes and reboots can be a very sticky path to venture into, with often disappointing results for true fans. Are you a die-hard, “original only” fan? Do you believe some classics should be left alone? Is there a certain amount of time that should pass before a remake happens? What do you think?
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