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Comic-Con ’11: Vampires –The Biting Kind — Are Back With ‘Fright Night’ & ‘Underworld: Awakening’

Comic-Con '11: Vampires --The Biting Kind -- Are Back With 'Fright Night' & 'Underworld: Awakening'

Though “Breaking Dawn” has captured the hearts of teens and their moms, the brutal, blood-sucking, non-sparkly vampire remains immortal. After Thursday’s “Twilight” lovefest, Comic-Con‘s Hall H was taken over by two vehicles for the meaner brand of the undead with “Fright Night” and “Underworld: Awakening” on Friday. “Fright Night” reimagines the ’80s classic, this time casting Colin Farrell as the not-so-neighborly vamp Jerry and Anton Yelchin as the threatened boy next door. Meanwhile, “Underworld: Awakening” revives Kate Beckinsale‘s role in the franchise as her Selene comes out of a coma after more than a decade.

“I don’t mind being the grandmammy of vampires,” Beckinsale said. “I don’t mind being the mature one with no glitter and a shiny bottom.” And about that shiny bottom and the costume? “It’s actually surprisingly comfortable, apart from after lunch. You can bend over–and I did. It was a trip getting back into the suit; it’s like a giant condom.”

For Beckinsale’s third outing in Selene’s shiny suit, ‘Awakening’ jumps forward in time, introducing a mysterious daughter, glimpsed for a moment in the footage shown in Hall H. Beckinsale said that she was told before the panel that she couldn’t talk about her offspring: “In terms of what happens to this daughter, it’s a mystery in our film.” The film has also brought the supernatural denizens into the light, and the Lycans take a primary role. They weren’t really seen–at least not in their furry form–in the footage, but Swedish directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein (“Shelter“) promise, “There’s a lot of Lycans, there will be Lycans…there’s just a new take on this one. You’ll see.”

Mårlind and Stein are at the helm, but series originator Len Wiseman doesn’t stay too far away. He mostly discussed the series’ future, including sequels and an anime addition to an upcoming DVD collection from animators Titmouse. “They do amazing work,” he raves about Titmouse. “I’ve always been interested in seeing what an animated spinoff of this would be. It crosses through many stages and eras. It’s exciting and very cool. We don’t have anything to show because it’s in an early stage.” But rather than telling an entirely new story, the anime will help flesh out the world they’ve created. “Through our timeline, we’ve skipped around so it fills in some of the holes.”

Looking toward the future, Wiseman said, “We’re all very interested in seeing where things go, and I never would have imagined when making the first one that things would go as they have. I’ve gotten excited with this one with turning it on its head…I’m open, I’d love to see things happen like you do.” When a fan half-jokingly pled for the series not to expand beyond Earth, Wiseman agreed, “They’re absolutely not going into space, that will never happen….There are a lot of fantasy ideas, but that will never happen.” So where will things go? “We need to see how much people like what we’re doing now.”

“Fright Night” also marks a return to the world of vampires, but this time it’s from screenwriter Marti Noxon, who most Comic-Con attendees know from her work on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” When asked if it was tough returning to the familiar world of the fanged, Noxon replied, “Yes, because there’s a lot of vampires out there right now, and I hadn’t really done anything since “Buffy” and once you’ve done “Buffy, its hard to top.” Angel and Spike might have been love interests for Buffy, but Noxon wanted to stay away from the nearly toothless vampires taking over pop culture. “I particularly wanted to write about vampires that didn’t play the piano,” she explained. “I missed the viciousness and sexuality that Colin imbued.” Also joined by co-stars Imogen Poots and Christopher Mintz-Plasse at the panel, director Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl“) agreed, happy about the reappearance of the dangerous vampire: “I don’t know if it’s a resurge, but I’m excited that we got to do it and we actually got Colin, which was amazing. He can embody all of that. It’s the kind of vampire I wanted to see, so I was excited about that.”

In the post-panel Q&A, fans kept talking about Farrell’s role in Playlist favorite “In Bruges,” favorably comparing Farrell’s recent work to his early flood of starring roles. “I have enjoyed the work a lot more in the last five years,” he said, explaining how he came to fame too fast and lost sight of why he first fell in love with acting as a teenager in Dublin. Recently, with better roles and better films, “I reconnected with the mystery of the whole thing.” When asked about parenthood’s role in the change, he replied, “Yeah, I like only playing savage killers now. I don’t know, everything changes everything. I’m sure it’s informed my choices in some way.”

Farrell takes over the role from the original film’s Chris Sarandon, who served as the panel’s moderator. Lest anyone worry that there’s any bad blood, Sarandon’s first words were, “I’ve seen it, and its terrific. I’m very excited to be here with this auspicious group of people.” What helps set these films apart is the scripts’ and actors’ different takes on Jerry. “The old Jerry Dandrige, as I remember him, as I first experienced him when I was 12, was incredibly debonair and had a certain dignity to him,” Farrell said of Sarandon’s role at Friday’s press conference. “He felt like an intellectual, cultural and suave. My guy is kind of none of those things. My guy felt more like a social parasite, he felt like somebody who really did enjoy the threat that he posed to those around them. My guy would be nothing without the fear that he could instill in people. He was somebody that treated humans like a cat would treat a ball of wool. Not just a source of sustenance, but play things. Kind of brutal. Somebody who isn’t really concerned with anything, [not] love. He has no human virtues that would be recognizable. He’s somebody who’s traveled the world for 400 years and possibly got tired of his own company. He’s violent and brutal and has kind of the M.O. of a serial killer.”

When asked who would win in a fight, Jerry from “Fright Night” or Edward from “Twilight” Farrell replied, “It depends what they were fighting for. If they were fighting for a lump of meat, Jerry. If they were fighting for the love of a woman, I’m afraid Cullen would have me.”

–Additional reporting by Jeff Otto. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images North America/Zimbio

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