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Exclusive: Marti Noxon on 'Fright Night' and 'Girls Gone Genre'

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Screenwriter Marti Noxon rose to fame writing some of the most popular episodes of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and eventually won the role of executive producer on the show. Noxon then went on to pen episodes of critical faves like Grey's Anatomy and Mad Men (for which she's recently served as consulting producer). But Noxon's returning to our favorite genre in a big way with the upcoming Fright Night remake and I Am Number Four, a sci-fi coming-of-age film produced by Steven Spielberg. I'll have a piece on the latter film up soon, but, in the mean time, hit the jump to learn what Noxon told me yesterday about Fright Night and "Girls Gone Genre" – the panel on which she'll appear alongside her fellow screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) and Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight) this Friday at 5 PM at the San Diego Comic-Con.

Can you talk a little bit about the panel that you're appearing on this week – "Girls Gone Genre"? It's been a little while since we've seen you at Comic-Con.

Right, it's been a while since I've been on a panel.

What's bringing you back for this one?

There are some pretty exciting developments on the movie front. I'm sort of a little pinch-me phase. People like Melissa Rosenberg and Laeta Kalogridis are good friends of mine. And because we do write this kind of stuff we do touch base with each other a lot. But until recently I didn't really have a dog in the race. And now, because of the last nine months, I have a couple of pictures that are both big genre movies. It's pretty exciting.

We've heard about Fright Night of course. Can you talk a little bit about where that project is and what attracted you to it? It seems like you've come up with a unique spin on the original film.

Yeah, it's about to start production. It's starting to film in a week in New Mexico. It's in New Mexico because we've revamped the movie and decided to set it in Las Vegas. But more in Clark County and the surrounding areas, the suburbs – dare I say it, Spielbergian surburbia – that also happen to be in Las Vegas. [Laughs.] They came to me saying that they were interested in doing a revamp of the movie, and I was intrigued, and since I'm a big fan I was thrilled to get the opportunity to talk with them about it. I think it's very faithful in many ways, it's absolutely recognizable as the original, but it's also been updated. Obviously time has passed and there's a lot of interesting stuff to talk about in the genre right now. There's a lot of vampire stuff. I've avoided doing vampire stuff only because what I was hoping for is the vampire who's not a romantic vampire, but a truly predator type of scary, scary vampire. This gave us the opportunity to go there.

Apparently you also poke some fun at the Twilight myth of the romantic vampire.

I think that's by implication more than directly. I love the Twilight series. I just felt, for myself, that I also just like that kind of more ruthless/less emo kind of guy. But yeah, there's a little bit of fun-poking to be had.

You've got a killer cast assembled with which to do it.

It's amazing. I credit that to Craig Gillespie, who's directing. He's such a great actor's selector. He just brought such a level of comfort to the actors that they were gonna do their very best. It's amazing. I was talking about this earlier – I asked Joss one time why he hadn't changed the title of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because the movie hadn't been that successful. And he said, "You know, there's something really great about lowering people's expectations. [Laughs] There's something great about thinking you know what you're going to see and then having it… In truth, it didn't have to be that good, it just to be better than people thought it was going to be." [Laughs]. Of course, doing a remake right now, people are immediately skeptical. They immediately think it's not going to be anywhere near as good. So if it's even a little better than they think it's going to be, then you're in a good situation.

There's a gay subtext to Fright Night, that I think has helped create a following for it over the years. Is that something you guys are drawing on in this remake?

It's interesting… I think they actually decided to stay away from it. Because times have changed so much. If we had gone there, I think it would have felt too precious and a little coy. There's already so much gay subtext in vampire stuff. [Laughs] We've covered that in Anne Rice, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. We've done that. So I think we just kind of moved away from that.

So in terms of subtext, it's more concerned with the phenomenon of the vampire as sex symbol?

One of the things we did – that was in the original movie but we mined it more – was really about the relationship between Ed and Charlie. We were interested in what happens when you leave your friends behind. A lot of the movie now has a focus on "What does it mean to be a real man?" There's a lot of stuff in it with more of a focus on masculinity and what it means to be a man.

That should lead to some interesting discussion in the "Girls Gone Genre" panel, since one of the topics you'll be talking about is what it's like to be a woman writing male genre characters.

Right. Exactly. I have stuff to say about it. I have a lot of dude in me, not surprisingly. [Laughs]

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