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Comic-Con 2011: Marti Noxon and Christopher Mintz-Plasse talk vampire lore for FRIGHT NIGHT

Kristal Bailey

July 30th, 2011

The FRIGHT NIGHT fun continues! I sat down with Marti Noxon, made famous (infamous?) from her time with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse to talk about the vampire technicalities and makeup and more that went into to creating FRIGHT NIGHT.

Read the full interview after the break.

Marti, you really changed a lot from the original, was that always imperative for you, to make a really different movie?
No, not at all. It was more that when I saw the original I had all these questions like what’s the nature of the relationship between Evil Ed and Charlie? It and that was just something I came into it thinking I would love to know more about them. And I brought to it something that I think a lot of people go through when you are young and you are really into this kind of subculture, be it being a total nerd like me or roller derby or whatever, and you get a little bit older and you and your friends don’t see eye to eye anymore. That’s really a very strange rite of passage where you leave friends behind and I thought there was something really interesting in that and it just meshed with the movie in a really good way. It was never like I have to change it; it was more so what was right to explore some things that I was interested in and it just sort of lent itself to a lot of things that I was excited about before.

You’ve obviously done vampires and teenagers before with Buffy, were there any worries about going back to that with FRIGHT NIGHT?
It’s funny because I saw Buffy recently and I realized how stylized the dialogue is. Its really, really stylized; people don’t generally talk that way. I think this is more naturalistic in the sense that the dialogue isn’t as worked, but absolutely the sort of the rule on Buffy was you keep track of a character’s journey and that’s the story that guides how the plot is played out. We did the same thing with this; it’s really Charlie’s story about becoming a whole person and because I can relate to that I was much more comfortable. I wasn’t worried about if people were going to compare; it was just more like writing Buffy in that way in that I had a story that I can tell through this and the metaphors are all there.

Chris, did you do any improv-ing?
It was a decent amount I think that everything was there on the page that she wrote but I just like improv. And Anton, we were such good friends on set that we would do her script and if we had time he and I would just let us do little riffing here and there and some of the lines even made the movie which is cool.

Did you know about and see the original FRIGHT NIGHT?
I didn’t, I just got the script sent to me and I loved everyone that was attached at the time. I read it and thought the role they offered me, if done correctly, could be very integral to the film so I went in and auditioned. When I got the part I went and watched it and thought it was like the perfect movie to remake. It’s so campy, its perfect 80’s campy, and it’s not like THE GOONIES where if you remake it people would be like, “Why did you do that!” It was an 80’s vampire movie that if made into a modern vampire movie correctly could be great.

How was the vampire makeup?
It looked incredible, Howard did an incredible job. It was kind of a pain in the ass to get on; it was 4 hours a day for a month straight…well like 2 weeks but it felt much longer.

It took 2 weeks to shoot the fight scene?
Yeah that fight scene took about a week and then all the other vamp stuff prior was about a week. It was good, we had a lot of time to rehearse that and all the wire work. The stunt people on that were incredible, very smart guys and it looks good in the movie. I love blood and gore, so when I lose my arm in that fight I was always like “more blood, please. More blood!”

Did you feel you wanted to reclaim vampires and make them scary again?
Yeah, I wanted to rebuttal the idea that vampires can be your boyfriend. We did that in Buffy obviously, but there was a reason he was a good guy. I just think it’s all gotten a little tame and really romanticized, so I was excited to make someone really lethal who’s charms were all really just allure. It’s all about being the ultimate predator, so I wanted him to be incredibly charming but lethal.
Chris: You haven’t seen a vampire movie where it’s just one vampire. In BLADE, he’s hunting down thousands and TWILIGHT they have their group of vampires, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT has a group of vampires, but you never have just one vampire which is awesome.

Marti, What was your starting point to tweak the characters?
I think I was very influenced by Near Dark and one of the things I was thinking about a lot was making a movie in Vegas, particularly a horror movie because I spent some time there early in the summer where every second or third house is abandoned or for sale. I started thinking that everyone there works at night, they might be sleeping during the day, so I had this western like feel to it. I had this sense of a Spielberg Super Ria feel where all the houses looked alike. I wanted to make an American Vampire as opposed to the European style, so I really that was my starting point: all American looking handy tool belt wearing vampire, which felt sort of new to me as opposed to what I had been seeing.

With so many vampire rules an iterations out there, who did you go about picking which ones to work with in this film?
I mean I don’t think you can break giant ones. I always feel like “oh I can walk in the day cause its cloudy” is a bit of a cheat, but dusk you can get away with. Mike Daluka, our producer, is a real vampire buff so we would argue a lot about dusk, but I feel like you can’t break the really well known ones. But as far as the nuisances it’s kind of a free for all.

Do you feel pressure when there’s prior content and you’re creating a new world for it to live in?
I mean I think Buffy was a great trial by fire for me because it was just the beginning of all this feedback from the internet. And for me, at some point, it turned enormously negative, and there’s literally a website called “Marti Noxon Ruined Buffy.” So at a certain point you have to be like, “oh well doing the best I can people.” I felt pressure, but mostly pressure to make something good and if most people don’t like it because Roddy McDowall isn’t in it then I can’t really help them on that.
Chris: I kind of take it as a challenge, because you know automatically when you are remaking a movie from the past that people are going to hate it. They are going to dislike it right when it’s announced and I take it as a challenge; I want people to go see it and walk out and love it.
Marti: Yeah, sometimes low expectations help. Joss used to say it was called “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” because people wouldn’t expect that to be good.

The Peter Vincent character is very different from the original character, how did that evolve? Was there any particular inspiration, it was kind of Russell Brand-ish.
Marti: The inspiration was slightly because we were in Vegas, but I had read that Penn (from Penn & Teller) has a really extensive collection of cult objects even though he’s a non-believer. He collects all this stuff, it’s almost like a museum at his place. So I was thinking that’s a really interesting character, a guy who says he doesn’t believe in it but buys a ton of the artifacts. Also we needed a modern day counterpart to the horror host, someone who’s cynical, and it just lent himself to that. Plus David is just so fun for that character.

And this ends my Comic-Con coverage, and therefore my writing for Gordon and the Whale. It's been a great ride and I had the time of my life covering Comic-Con this year! Thanks for reading and FRIGHT NIGHT opens this Friday, August 19 in 3D and 2D theaters.

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