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Tom Holland

Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Funny without being tongue-in-cheek and epic without being ponderous, Spider-Man: Homecoming is what a summer movie should be. This latest installment in the Marvel comics blockbuster-verse is as bouncy as its web-spinning hero. Instead of numbly moving the plot forward for the sake of the Marvel corporate plan (I mean “storytelling initiative”), it seamlessly tucks itself into the ongoing Marvel thing without feeling obligatory. This is the way you do it.

We’ve seen a lot of Spider-Man in recent years, including Sam Raimi’s trilogy with Tobey Maguire and two installments with Andrew Garfield. Our current incarnation, played by Tom Holland, debuted last year in Captain America: Civil War, of which teenager Peter Parker’s mentorship under Tony Stark, aka Iron Man’s superhero-mentoring program, was the most engaging part. Teen angst loomed large in previous tellings of Peter’s story, but Homecoming makes the radical suggestion that high-school years might also be fun—even if you’re struggling with the newfound powers of being Spider-Man.

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Fright Night (1985)

In a couple of weeks a new version of Fright Night will be released, with Colin Farrell in the vampire-next-door role and David (Doctor Who) Tennant as the has-been horror movie star reduced to hosting the local spook show. Those are two good reasons to give it a look, yet really, was it necessary to do a remake of the 1985 picture? Not quite a classic, but a film of considerable wit, creepiness, and—yes—charm. Landmark’s Egyptian Theatre (805 E. Pine St.) is slipping in a showing of the original at midnight Friday and Saturday, Aug. 12-13. Here’s a review I wrote in The Weekly back in the day. – RTJ

Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent, a horror host beyond price

Told that a man has just moved into the long-vacant house next door, Charley Brewster’s single-parent mom sighs, “With my luck he’ll probably be gay.” The signs are not propitious. Actually there are two men; they call each other Jerry and Billy, wear sweaters a lot, and apparently adore restoring rambling old houses so they’ll have somewhere to display their antiques. But if truth be told, their relationship is a good deal more exotic than that implies, and they are interested in women. Teenage Charley spies quite an attractive one getting undressed in the upstairs window one night—and Jerry leaning over her shoulder with a mouth suddenly sprouting fangs.

Fright Night is a tidy little contemporary variation on the vampire horror movie. It’s somewhat selfconscious about being a variation: The title also applies to the local TV station’s late late show hosted by a washed-up, campy horror star named Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), and the film goes for the comedic jugular quite a bit of the time. But Fright Night is finally, and satisfyingly, closer in spirit to Roman Polanski’s dark-humored Dance of the Vampires (aka The Fearless Vampire Killers) than to a silly sendup like Love at First Bite. It observes the rules of the vampire game, and restores the stinging juice of life to conventions that had been packed away to desiccate in the costume department.

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