SAN DIEGO - There's a Web community of horror fans who are dedicated to the proposition that real vampires don't sparkle. Even at Comic-Con International, where "Twilight" films are bathed in the glow of adoration, you could witness the occasional pushback from fans and Hollywood players.
Denis O'Hare, who played vampire royalty on HBO's "True Blood," told HollywoodLife.com back in February that "real vampires don't sparkle, they don't glisten." At the Comic-Con panel for "Underworld 4" last month, star Kate Beckinsale responded to anti-"Twilight," pro-"Underworld" sentiments, saying, "I don't mind being the mature one with no glitter."
Another case in point is on screens now in "Fright Night": bloodthirsty bad boy Jerry Dandridge, played by Colin Farrell in the remake of the 1985 campy cult hit.
Screenwriter Marti Noxon explained why she got back into the vampire game at "Fright Night's" Comic-Con panel in July. A writer and showrunner for the TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," she had hesitated "because there's a lot of vampire out there and I had done 'Buffy,' and once you've done 'Buffy,' it's hard to top."
She was persuaded to resurrect "Fright Night" because it had a sense of humor, high-stakes (pun intended) relationships and Jerry, the sexy vampire next door, with Farrell reinventing the role originated by Chris Sarandon.
"It was a good balance of things and interesting relationships that could be commented on 20 years later, that could evolve. ... I wanted to write about a vampire who didn't play a piano. I just missed a kind of viciousness and sexuality that I felt Colin imbued."
The piano-playing vampire in question most likely is "Twilight's" Edward Cullen (played by Robert Pattinson), he of the golden glow and a gazillion fangirl fantasies. In "Fright Night," Jerry the vampire attracts women with impressive pecs and a killer smile.
At a press Q&A session, Farrell was asked who would win an Edward-vs.-Jerry fight.
"It depends on what they were fighting for," he said. "If they were fighting over a lump of meat? Jerry. If they were fighting for the love of a woman? I'm afraid Cullen would have me."
Farrell said he loved putting on fangs as a fan of the original "Fright Night" and other vampire movies, such as "The Lost Boys," Kathryn Bigelow's "Near Dark" and the 1922 silent classic, "Nosferatu."
The 1985 "Fright Night," with a cast including William Ragsdale as Charley and Roddy McDowall as TV host-vampire hunter Peter Vincent, was a surprise hit that grossed almost $25 million, but a 1988 sequel minus Sarandon did not fare as well, putting a stake in the story -- until now.
Jerry the vampire of 2011 is an earthy rogue with James Dean pretensions, a far cry not just from sparkly Edward but also from dignified, debonair original Jerry, who was on hand to moderate the Comic-Con panel. In an odd sort of mutual-admiration society, Sarandon asked his successor why he was attracted to the role.
"I'd done three or four films that were heavy in their subject matter and I just wanted to have fun, to work and have a laugh, and the script really engaged me," Farrell said. "Being a lover of the original, I just wanted to know what direction it was going to go in. There was enough homage paid to the original in the script that Marti wrote, and there was enough that took the story and the characters in a different direction, particularly the ... Jerry character, that was different, I'm sure, than what was on the page before you brought what you brought to it.
"It took the pressure off because I never felt -- and I would have failed miserably -- like I needed to compete with you."
Jerry delights in tormenting his teenage neighbor Charley, (Anton Yelchin, "Star Trek's" Chekhov), who had been preoccupied by his hot girlfriend and ignoring his onetime best friend, Ed (Christopher "McLovin" Mintz-Plasse). It's Ed who wakes Charley up to the fact that their sleepy Las Vegas suburb has been invaded by the vampire next door.
Yelchin's youthful innocence serves as a foil to bigger-than-life characters such as Jerry and David Tennant's Peter Vincent. Peter here is a Vegas magician and vampire expert who Charley turns to for help. Tennant, a Comic-Con favorite as the 10th Doctor Who, was absent from the panel because of a theater commitment in London, but beamed in a recording to the San Diego Convention Center.
Farrell promised to pass along the applause sparked by a mention of Tennant's name and said he liked that Peter "was contemporized in a clever, entertaining way." Whereas McDowall's Peter was an over-the-top television personality, Tennant's vulgar magician chews scenery by channeling Russell Brand.
"David's the nicest, funniest man," Yelchin said. "It's the same with Colin as Jerry, to be in a room with that level of character. It's such a great pleasure to be able to watch someone create something so interesting and so fascinating."
Tennant's boozy Peter and free-flowing pop-culture references provide relief from the jolts, violence and occasional splashes of gore that punctuate "Fright Night."
The film also takes a direct swing at the glowing vampire phenomenon: Mintz-Plasse's Ed is aghast when Charley chastises him by saying "you've read way too many 'Twilight' books."
"I'm insulted you would even think that I read 'Twilight,' " Ed counters.