If there’s one thing for certain, it’s that writer and producer Marti Noxon knows a thing or two about vampires. She was one of the driving creative forces behind the long-running “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” television series, and this writer couldn’t think of a better person at the writing helm than Noxon to create the story for an updated spin on the 1985 classic Fright Night.
While on the set of Fright Night 3D late last year, we were invited to chat with Noxon about what her approach was to updating the story for the remake and why, even though this film is going to be a lot darker than the original, she still wanted to make sure there was some heart left to it, similar to the approach Tom Holland took with his original film.
From the start Noxon was very aware that fans of the original Fright Night would have some concerns about DreamWorks’ remake. She discussed how she knew when she took the job to create the script for Fright Night 3D she had to make some changes from the original but still needed to balance out the updates in the new one with some of what made the first film such a classic- the relationships in Charlie Brewster’s life (Anton Yelchin).
“When I first came in to talk with DreamWorks about this project, I think the reason I got the job more so than the others was because while I loved writing about vampires, I was more interested in exploring Charlie’s relationships in the film beyond the horror stuff,” explained Noxon. “You have the disintegrating relationship between best friends Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and Charlie and then the stuff between him and Amy (Imogen Poots), and then you have the relationship between him and his mom (Toni Collette). I was much more interested in the stuff that I had always felt like I wanted some filling in on in the original movie. I had a lot of questions in that respect, which is why I loved the original movie for just that reason. You cared about those characters and wanted to know more.”
“Certainly my training on ‘Buffy’ was all about character and what’s the story you’re telling so I felt like I knew what kind of approach I wanted to take with Fright Night. I felt like there were a lot of seeds in the original movie that hadn’t been fully exploited, and the great thing about DreamWorks was that they were really committed to making a movie with a real first act. I feel like because of that decision, that’s why we were able to draw in talent like director Craig Gillespie and all these amazing actors because we wrote a character movie that also happens to be really scary,” added Noxon.
Even though there are a lot of similarities between the original Fright Night and the updated version, it doesn’t mean that Noxon doesn’t have some things cooked up to keep fans of the original on their proverbial toes. “With this movie there were some classic sequences that we knew we wanted to take a different approach with and reinvent in some ways, but we knew we definitely needed to incorporate them in the new film (like the nightclub scene). But we definitely want to surprise people, too, so there is one moment in particular where I think that if you know the original movie, you think you know what’s going to happen and it doesn’t happen. It’s a lot of fun to keep people guessing.”
One of the updates that had all of us journalists a bit concerned when arriving in Albuquerque for the set visit was the change to the iconic character of Peter Vincent. In the original Peter Vincent (played by the unforgettable Roddy McDowall) was a failing TV horror host, but in the remake Peter Vincent (David Tennant) is more of a Criss Angel-type of character that hosts a Las Vegas supernatural-themed show at the Hard Rock Hotel. Noxon explained why the overhaul to the Peter Vincent character was necessary for new audiences.
“The people who were watching the original Fright Night had a very strong point of reference for Peter Vincent being a TV horror movie host,” said Noxon. “There are few still out there, but it’s few and far in-between. So I was really inspired by the idea that Penn and Teller have this amazing supernatural collection and used that as a jumping-off point for Peter’s character now. The one thing was that I didn’t want Peter to be a cynic like Penn and Teller- he had to be somebody who actually might believe, and that’s how we started fleshing out his story.”
“I knew Fright Night had to be set in Vegas, specifically because I have been thinking about that for a long time, having spent some time there during the election. I realized that where better for a demon to hide out than in Vegas? With a transient population, people sleeping all day and partying all night and nobody would notice if people just went missing, you know? So Vegas seemed like a natural setting for both Peter’s character and someone like Jerry Dandridge,” added Noxon.
The other change Noxon discussed was the design of Jerry Dandridge’s vampire look and what inspired her to bring his ferocity to a new level. “I had a very specific take on what I thought Jerry should look like and how he feeds. And of course the people who designed the creatures and the look then took that and expanded it. You know it’s hard because it seems like everything has already been done. One of the great things about the original movie was how great some of that design work was with the creatures so I think we sort of modernized that look in this film.”
“I don’t think we tried to create an entirely new vampire, but we definitely had a theme for the vampire look throughout the film. One of the first things that happened when I worked on the movie was they said that they were thinking that this vampire is more like Jaws so you’ll see some sort of almost shark-like elements in the design of Jerry’s makeup which looks amazing and scary,” added Noxon.
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