Jaime Murray Talks Fright Night 2: New Blood, available now on Blu-ray and DVD
The sequel Fright Night 2: New Blood is making its debut on Blu-ray and DVD today, October 1, just in time for Halloween. Fans of 2009's Fright Night remake might be disappointed to see that none of the original cast is back, making this essentially the fourth version of this horror tale about a deadly vampire, the neighbor who knows his secret, and the TV horror host who knows how to end his reign of terror. The good news is that Fright Night 2: New Blood is a very entertaining and worthy entry in this long-standing franchise, and that it stands almost on par with the 1985 original.
Jerry Dandridge the Vampire gets a sex change for this quasi-reboot, a hopeful home video franchise restarter, with the very beautiful and equally awesome Jaime Murray stepping in to play Gerri. We recently chatted with the actress, who is busy shooting Defiance Season 2 in Canada, and we quickly learned that making Fright Night 2: New Blood was about shaking off the stigma of a remake to focus on making something new, while still appealing to fans of this series. We believe they've succeeded.
Here is our conversation.
Now, when you guys were all on set making this, did you look at it as a reboot of a reboot, or a second remake, or a reboot of the original sequel, or did you look at it as a true sequel to the remake? It's a little hard to place where this falls into the franchise, since there is the original, its hardly seen sequel, and then the reboot that came out in 2011.
Jaime Murray: Hmm. I don't know. I'm just an actress, so I don't really care about all that...(Laughs!) I went in and read the script, and then I needed to figure out how I could make this character the most interesting and complex as possible. For me, the fact that it was a franchise with great people behind it was a bonus, but I never let that intimidate me. Or make me think about the business side, or the logistics. I simply thought, "Hey, I'm playing a vampire! And that's super, super cool. And I'm getting a chance to retell the vampire myth." I think that is one of the most interesting fables of our time, and it's something, which is being retold, because it's interesting to the current pop consciousness. So I made a decision. I was just going to be excited to be involved with this project!
I think fans recognize that and appreciate that, when someone isn't trying to recopy or replicate something they've seen before in a remake. In terms of any reboot, its great to get a fresh perspective on the material, otherwise, why do it? It sounds like you guys went out there and did your own thing.
Jaime Murray: Yes! That's the thing, the director was really super excited about this project, and he came at it from a really fresh perspective. He wasn't...I don't think he felt oppressed that this was part of a franchise. He was pretty daring in wanting to take risks. He didn't necessarily want to make it different, because there wasn't anything wrong with the previous ones. They were amazing. They were great. I think he was a young, hungry director, and he was able to tackle this with the kind of enthusiasm it deserves. I think our production is risky, and grotesque, and beautiful, and disturbing, and all the things a good vampire movie needs to be.
When I think Fright Night...I grew up with the movie from 1985, and when I hear the title, I think I'm getting a true horror comedy, one that delivers true scares and quite a few laughs. In fact, I think Fright Night helped coin that term 'horror comedy'. How did you guys take that, and make it work to your advantage. When you're making a Fright Night movie, it has to be funny on some levels. You still need to appeal to the audience that's going to watch this because it has Fright Night in the title...
Jaime Murray: Yeah, absolutely. That was one of the nice things about this franchise, they have that aspect down. We had conversations about how to make the comedy and the horror work. You don't want to undermine the horror with the comedy, and vice versa...You want the horror to be thrilling and scary enough that it affects the audience, but you don't want the laughs to take away from that. It helped in building the drama and horror element, and we puncture that, we let the air out of it with a release, which then allows you to build the horror up from there again. We really kind of took the comedy seriously, if that makes sense. We took the whole thing seriously, because we wanted the audience to enjoy both of those elements. We didn't want the movie to be silly. We wanted it to be horrifying while being funny. There are some characters that are more comedic than others. Evil Ed! That is a character who contributes greatly to the comedy. And then you have Peter Vincent, who is a comedic character. Gerri, as the vampire...There is a certain fun in watching her play with her power, and the hero and heroine, who is Charlie and Amy, there is a certain kind of charm and fun in watching those abuses of power. But its not like she is cracking jokes, or anything. A lot of the humor comes from the fact that Charlie knows there is something up with Gerri pretty early on. Then, it's the fact that none of his friends or those close to him will believe him. And it becomes obvious to Gerri that no one else is catching on. So that is a lot of fun to play with.
When you take on a vampire, and there are so many out there currently in entertainment, how do you make it a little different for both yourself and the audience?
Jaime Murray: One of the things that was interesting to me is, 'Why is this so interesting?' People are obsessed with vampires, and they have been for some time now. I'm not even taking about the resurgence that started with True Blood and Twilight. Since the 1800s, we've had that retelling of the vampire myth. I think that it...You know, there is really a Freudian aspect to the vampire myth. They'll talk about the celebrity obsession, they'll talk about narcissism, they'll talk about people who have no faith or light within in them, they have nothing to fill them up, so they take other people's energy. I think all of those things, we live in a culture that isn't necessarily constrained by strict religion anymore...We live in a generation that is trying to find its own mark, its not dictating to anything anymore. So, I think the retelling of the vampire myth is a reminder that certain things might look bright and shiny on the outside, some people might seem really charming and attractive, and seductive, and they might really make you want to invite them in...But be careful what you invite into your life. Things may not be what they appear to be at first. I think that is why it's a popular story for teenagers to hear. It's a popular coming of age story, staying up all night and having power. Doing whatever you want, and having eternal life might seem quite attractive...But, yeah, it doesn't normally turn out quite as you had hoped.
You bring up the teenager aspect. I can see how the vampire lifestyle appeals to them, but for me, staying up all-night and living forever sounds completely miserable at this point. I don't know if you have grown past that, and if you feel the same way...If you can bring that kind of misery to your vampire...
Jaime Murray: I distinctly remember talking to a teenage friend of mine, and I said, "I'm still going to be doing this, and this, and blah-de-blah!" I often think about that conversation, and how your ideals at that age change. So, yes. (Laughs) Its funny.
Now, let me back up for a second, and go back to the whole remake, reboot idea of this sequel. Gerri is Jerry Dandridge's sister, right? That's how it worked in the original and its sequel...
Jaime Murray: No! We don't ever say that it's his sister. In fact, one of the things is, it's a retelling of the same story. This isn't 'What happens next semester'. Here, though, my Gerri is a woman, which brings up a whole other mess of incidences in this production. We introduce the elements of Elizabeth Bathory, who was of Hungarian or Romanian aristocracy, depending on what you read...But, she was actually accused of killing up to 600 women in the quest for eternal youth, and bathing in their blood. We introduce her, and she is whom a lot of people think the vampire myth may be based on. If we are saying my vampire may have been the original Elizabeth Bathory...I think she was born in 1560...Then possibly, my Gerri is one of the first and oldest vampires.
You guys actually shot on location in Romania, right?
Jaime Murray: Yes, which was amazing, because we went up to Transylvania, and shot in actual castles, where there were motes and bridges. These were full on, old school castles. When you have a backdrop for a movie like this, it just infuses itself with an energy and a visual you can't beat.
That has to be an amazing tool, to be able to breath in that atmosphere, and live where this character may have actually existed.
Jaime Murray: Yeah! It was amazing for me to go to those places, and feel how drafty, and big, and carnivorous, and how creepy they were., I was reading about Elizabeth Bathory at the time, and just imagining her in 1560 living in this kind of damp, dank castle in the middle of nowhere...She is this educated. Aristocratic woman, and she is surrounded by people who are serving her, and a husband who she's been married to since she was a teenager, and he goes straight out to war, and she doesn't see him for years at a time...I'm just thinking about how this privileged, bored, teenage girl acted out and started getting involved in sorcery and the occult. Really, she was just trying to entertain herself, because she was so fucking bored. And angry (laughs). Just seeing where that led her, and getting to read into that while I'm stuck in that kind of environment. It must have been horrible! (Laughs) She just took on these abuses of power.
I've been in Romania a couple of times. I have to know, did you fall victim to the dogs wandering around? I have never been on set in Romania when I don't see one of the production people try to take home as many of these stray dogs as they can...
Jaime Murray: Oh, goodness! The stray dogs! No one told me about the stray dogs until I got there. Not only the castles, did they add to the flavor of the film for me, but shooting nights, it was December, it was snowing, and there are packs...I mean PACKS of dogs roaming the streets, and howling, and begging for food. You know, on top of that, I am dressed up in fangs and covered in blood. I didn't sleep particularly well when I was filming this. There was such a flavor to it. And the Hungarian language, it is such a beautiful language. Being surrounded by a crew of people talking in a foreign tongue, and the problems that brings up, and the humor that brings up as well...You become delirious with the night shoots, and you are tired...It really did add to the flavor of the whole thing. I was really happy when I saw the film, and what we did with it all.
It certainly lives on screen, that feeling and atmosphere...
Jaime Murray: It does. It really does...Have you seen any of the film?
Yes, I watched it last night.
Jaime Murray: Oh, you did! They sent it too you?
Yes, and in all honesty, I liked it quite a bit more than the 2011 version. I'm a huge fan of the original, and I think this stacks up. Its so much fun...
Jaime Murray: I'm so sorry to sound so surprised, I have done a bunch of interviews this past week, and no one has seen it. I haven't even seen all of it. (Laughs) I've seen all the clips, but I haven't seen all of it together. I saw all of my scenes during ADR. But I am really excited to see the rest of it.
I truly enjoyed it. I think it should have been in theaters, it's better than most horror sequels...
Jaime Murray: Oh!
I understand why its not. I know why they make direct-to-DVD movies, but we're reaching a point where that isn't a stigma anymore, and it doesn't reflect the quality of the movie in the least bit.
Jaime Murray: Thank you very much. It has been difficult talking to people, because it's weird doing a remake of a remake of a remake, that type of thing. But I am really proud of the movie, and the way things come together in this economy reflects how you make a movie. Sometimes, in this time of things, a lot of people don't go to the cinema anymore. They watch their movies on Netflix, and they wait for the DVD, or wait for it on streaming, and that's the way we consume things. At the moment, I am making Defiance. Luckily that is doing really well. But we live in a time when you can't...People just don't consume things in the same way. It is changing yearly. I think this is a good movie, and we didn't ever approach it like it wasn't great material, or a great script...We wanted to do a great thing for the people who are invested in the franchise.
With the 2011 remake coming from Sony, it felt like they had to make a specific thing, and stick to what the original was about. Here, it felt like you guys had the freedom to do your own thing within those confines. It felt like you were able to take the same characters, and make something new and different, which I think only happens when you take it to a home market.
Jaime Murray: Exactly, that's why I like working on an indie, or working on cable. Its great doing a second season of a show as well, because sometimes, you have so many people with an opinion, what you set out to make doesn't become what it should be. Sometimes the person who is most invested in the script doesn't get heard. Sometimes an actor will want to be really great with something, and they can't get there. As an artist, I have learned that it is better to do something than not. If you ask people who shouldn't have an opinion, suddenly, they now have an opinion, and then it becomes an issue. Actually, as an artist, you do want to collaborate, but you also want to be brave, and you do want to do something different. Sometimes it's easier to say no than yes. I definitely think Eduardo Rodriguez was able to be really daring, and he was totally invested in making this interesting, and dark, and weird. I really enjoyed working with him, and the freedom he was afforded. He was able to make some really brave choices. I am on location filming Defiance right now, and going back to that whole second season thing, the show is getting so weird. Because, in the second season, you have a lot more freedom. Also, I am up here, and I am watching Netflix, and I am watching Orange Is the New Black, and it is so weird and wonderful. You know? It was made for Netflix. I love that. People just consume things in a different way. I feel like it's having a real impact on how we're making things. We have more of a direct connection between the audience and the filmmaker now, on so many different levels. Social media, how audiences consume things...I think we will be able to meet their needs in a different way now.
Now, you didn't answer my one question...Did you get suckered into taking home a dog?
Jaime Murray: No! I have a little dog here. You're not allowed to leave the country with them. It was so amazing, when you first get there, and you see these packs of dogs, it is intimidating. But I didn't meet one dog that wasn't lovely. They are just adorable. It broke my heart. My friend, Orlando Bloom, he was shooting out in Morocco, I don't remember what movie it was, but he took home a dog, and he still has that dog. It's a beautiful dog. The dogs in Romania were amazing, though. It made me think of my friends who have dogs that will act out. They have behavioral problems, and allergies. Only in Los Angeles do you take your dog for acupuncture. Oh my god, one of my friends takes her dog for acupuncture, and she is medicated on Zanex sometimes. The dogs in Romania eat what they can get, they don't have allergies to things. (Laughs) They're not on Zanex.