Touchstone and Beyond: A History of Disney’s “Fright Night”

It’s year four of rewatching the Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures catalog, and I am starting the spooky season off with a film released by Touchstone Pictures but produced by DreamWorks Pictures. Fright Night has Colin Farrell as a vampire out to terrorize the neighborhood.

Is it any good? We shall see.

The Plot

Charley Brewster lives on the outskirts of Las Vegas with his mom Jane. Together life is okay. He has a girlfriend named Amy and is a part of the popular group of kids in school. One day at school, he starts to notice a lot of students are absent, and his friend Ed informs him that his new neighbor Jerry, is a vampire.

Skeptical at first, Charley soon learns the truth and the battle of wills between Charley and Jerry has dire consequences for everyone’s safety. With the help of a supposed vampire expert named Peter Vincent, Charley is willing to go to extremes to end Jerry’s terror and save his mom and Amy.

The Good

Anton Yelchin is great as Charley. He’s charismatic, has great chemistry with Imogen Poots, and plays well off Toni Collette in the mother son dynamic. Yelchin is highly likable. He doesn’t dominate the screen, but he plays his character well and allows the audience to be as doubtful as Charley, and then ease us into the horror that has hit the town.

Colin Farrell is a great bad guy. Jerry has no recognizable human qualities, he’s soulless and monstrous, and Farrell is excellent in this role.

Imogen Poots should be in more mainstream roles. Amy is not the typical girlfriend role and that is thanks to how Poots brings her to life. Amy is a likeable character that the audience will want to survive the terror.

David Tennant as Peter Vincent is perfect. Having Dr. Who play the expert on vampires is magical. Tennant seems to be having a great time in the role, and the audience will enjoy the film more because of this commitment to the part.

The Bad and the Ugly

As much as I like Yelchin in the role, he seems to be too old to play the part of a high school student.

Having Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Ed tell Charley that his new neighbor Jerry is a vampire when we haven’t seen him yet, is a questionable choice. How does Ed know? Of course, it’s explained later, but I feel like there is an important scene that was cut that would have made this statement make sense in the movie.

Jerry can’t enter someone’s home unless he is invited. To get by this he pulls up the Brewster gas line and causes the house to explode. His reasoning is that if there’s no house then he doesn’t need an invite. The problem with this is that the house is still standing. The Brewster’s are still in the house, and they haven’t given their permission to enter. So, Jerry can’t come into the house, but he does.

Beyond the Film Facts

  • This is a remake of the 1985 film Fright Night starring Chris Sarandon.
  • Sarandon has a small part in this film. He plays the driver who hits the Brewster car on the highway and is then killed by Jerry.
  • Sarandon originally played the role of Jerry.
  • The original writer and director of the first Fright Night, stated in an interview with Empire that he did not like the remake.
  • Heath Ledger was once considered for the role of Jerry.
  • Colin Farrell looks back on this film with fond memories. On the set of Fright Night his mother met her second husband.
  • Farrell has stated that he took the role of Jerry because he was impressed with director Craig Gillespie’s Lars and the Real Girl.
  • Farrell has talked about how hard it was to play Jerry. To Farrell, Jerry had no soul, so it was difficult for him to ground his performance in some form of humanity.
  • David Tennant’s character Peter Vincent is named after Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.
  • Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Anton Yelchin hosted MTV’s “Fright Night Friday” to promote the film.
  • The movie opened in 6th place with a little more than $7 million in box office revenue on the opening weekend.

The Streamy Award

{The following four categories are based on a Film Reel scale.

1 Reel-Bored and Killing Time, 2 Reels-When You Have Some Time, 3 Reels-Make Some Time, 4 Reels-Big Screen Event}

I enjoyed the movie a lot. Fright Night is violent but it’s not grotesque. Farrell and Yelchin are worthy foes, and the story moves along at a nice pace. The movie was a box office success, but it would have done much better if it had been released in October, and not the dog days of summer. I can’t believe the film wasn’t held until the scary season.

There are plot holes galore, but Fright Night is a pleasant surprise in the DreamWorks/Touchstone agreement.

Fright Night gets a 3 Reels rating.

Cast and Crew

  • Colin Farrell as Jerry
  • Toni Collette as Jane Brewster
  • Anton Yelchin as Charley Brewster
  • Dave Franco as Mark
  • Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Ed
  • Imogen Poots as Amy
  • David Tennant as Peter Vincent

Directed by Craig Gillespie

Produced by Touchstone Pictures / DreamWorks Pictures / Reliance Entertainment

Release Date: August 19, 2011

Budget: $30 million

Box Office Gross

Domestic: $18,302,607

Worldwide Total: $41,002,607

Coming Soon

Next week with Halloween coming close, we revisit a true horror film. 1993’s Alive is the true story of a rugby team that crashes in the Andes mountains and must do anything to survive.

Halloween 2022 coverage is presented by shopDisney
Bill Gowsell
Bill Gowsell has loved all things Disney since his first family trip to Walt Disney World in 1984. Since he began writing for Laughing Place in 2014, Bill has specialized in covering the Rick Riordan literary universe, a retrospective of the Touchstone Pictures movie library, and a variety of other Disney related topics. When he is not spending time with his family, Bill can be found at the bottom of a lake . . . scuba diving