Back in the 1980s and early 90s, almost every genre movie was suffused with homoerotic tension—action flicks (Commando), teen-escapade flicks (Weird Science), heist flicks (Point Break)—but none more so than horror movies.
Maybe it was the onset of the AIDS epidemic that added heightened frisson, or gay directors frustrated they couldn’t film the sequel to Can’t Stop the Music channeled their erotic impulses into movies like Once Bitten, Twice Shy and Nightmare on Elm Street 2.
Right up there with those crypto-gay slasher movies was Fright Night, a 1985 vampire movie that saw teen dork Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) battling his vampire neighbor Jerry for the life (and purity) of his girlfriend, Amy. How gay was Fright Night?
* Charley’s girlfriend was played by Amanda Bearse, the future Marcy Darcy on Married..With Children, who came out as a lesbian in the 1990s. Amy is fond of bulky clothes and drives a scooter. Capiche?
* Charley’s dorky buddy, Ed, was played by Stephen Geoffreys, who later dropped out of mainstream movies to appear in hardcore gay porn. Geoffrey gives a creepy/campy performance and even dons drag in one scene.
* The fuddy-duddy English actor, Peter Vincent, that Charley turns to for help? Roddy McDowell, the original Pass-Around-Polly of 1950s gay Hollywood. As PostModernBarney.com points out, “You don’t cast McDowall if you want any implications of heterosexuality in a character.”
Basically the only straight person in this movie is Ragsdale—and the vampire, played amiably by Chris Sarandon (who always claimed playing Al Pacino’s unstable boyfriend in Dog Day Afternoon ruined his career).
Flash-forward 26 years: creativity-starved Tinseltown has decided to remake Fright Night, which was hardly the Avatar of its day to begin with. The new version—made, of course, in 3-D—stars Anton Yelchin (Checkov in J.J. Abram’s Star Trek) as Charley, Imogen Poots as Amy, Dr Who‘s David Tennant as Peter Vincent and Colin Farrell as bloodsucking neighbor Jerry Dandridge. Opening today, it’s a bloody fun romp (in both senses of the word), but is it as gay as the original?
And where Sarandon’s take on the undead villain was a bit fey—he’s wears blousy shirts and is totally obsessed with Charley— Farrell is just a straight-up bad ass. He thinks the kid’s a pest and is more interested in chomping down on Charley’s mom (Toni Collette).
Moving on: Tennant’s Peter Vincent is more a washed-up Kris Angel than mincy Vincent Price type—but he does a good job channeling the glambisexual drunken sexuality of Russell Brand. (Can you believe we just typed those words?)
And while Stephen Geoffrey followed up his role as Charley’s nerdy pal by getting pierced with flesh stakes, we can’t see Christopher Mintz-Plasse (a.k.a. McLovin’) appearing in movies like Private Temptations and Guys Who Crave Big Cocks.
Keep an eye on the new Fright Night‘s director, Craig Gillespie, too: He’s set to next direct Ryan Gosling in The Dallas Buyer’s Club, based on the true story of an electrician with AIDS who was given six months to live but extended his life with a controversial drug cocktail.