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08/19/2011

Fangs for the memories

The 3-Ds in "Fright Night" stand for death, dumb and dufuses.

Yet the remake of the 1985 comic-horror-thriller about the vampire next door slithers coldly and with a sick sense of purpose; like a snake on the prowl after dark.

Actually, Jerry (Colin Farrell), the handsome mysterious stranger who has just moved into a house in the Las Vegas 'burbs, is more like a shark.

Charley, the kid next door, finally snaps that Jerry (Yes, Jerry the vampire) must be a blood-sucker when his classmates, including former best bud Ed (talented Christopher Mintz-Plasse), fail to show up for school.

Normally, I am not in favor of remakes.  They are, however, here to stay.

At least the "Fright Night" re-do is in very good hands, even if it's a little cheesy-goofy.  Director Craig Gillespie ("Mr. Woodcock"), who guided Ryan Gosling through an extremely difficult performance in the outstanding dark comic-drama "Lars and the Real Girl," makes good use of his actors, his script and the gimmicky 3-D effects.

Gillespie wisely waits, waits, waits until just the right couple of moments to spring -- make that fling -- images into the audience.

Anton Yelchin ("Star Trek," Mel Gibson's son in "The Beaver") finds enough nuance in Charley to keep his startled character real enough.   

Farrell, on screen recently in "Horrible Bosses," was excellent in the hit-man comic-drama "In Bruges" (2008), a superb thriller almost no one saw.  Here he's a laid back vampire.  Laid back, that is, until night falls, hunger takes over and the fangs come out.

The real star here, though, is Scot actor David Tennant (the BBC series "Dr. Who").  Tennant, a relative fresh face in this country, acts circles around his castmates as Peter Vincent, a blow-hard "vampire killer" on stage on the Vegas strip who is drawn into the real fright fight.

The late Roddy McDowall, who played a TV "Fright Night" host in the original, would be proud, and perhaps a little jealous of this fast-paced remake with real bite.

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