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30 Days Of Night [Blu-ray]
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Josh Hartnett (The Black Dahlia, Pearl Harbor) crosses over to the dark side in this bone-chilling adaptation of the cult-hit graphic novel, brought to the screen in all its demonic glory. In a small Alaskan town, thirty days of night is a natural phenomenon. Very few outsiders visit, until a band of bloodthirsty, deathly pale vampires mark their arrival by savagely attacking sled dogs. But soon they find there are much more satisfying thirst-quenchers about: human beings. One by one, the townspeople succumb to a living nightmare, but a small group survives -- at least for now. The vampires use the dark to their advantage, and surviving this cold hell is a game of cat and mouse...and screams.
David (Hard Candy) Slade directs this nerve-jangling adaptation of the popular graphic novel series about a mob of vampires that overruns a remote Alaskan town in the grip of 30 Days of Night. Josh Hartnett and Melissa George are the film's de facto heroes (he's the stoic town sheriff and she's his estranged fire-marshal wife) but the picture's real MVP is Slade's camera (along with cinematographer Jo Willems), which careens across the town's snowy landscape to detail the vampires' horrific assault on its inhabitants, which are quickly pared down to a hardy few. The script, co-written by the source material's creator, Steve Niles, along with Pirates of the Caribbean's Stuart Beattie and Hard Candy's Brian Nelson), proudly wears its influences on its crimson-stained sleeve (Bram Stoker's Dracula, natch, but also Salem's Lot, Night of the Living Dead, and John Carpenter's version of The Thing) and boils down the graphic novels to a series of tense and extremely bloody standoffs between Harnett and George's band of survivors and the vaguely Slavic and ferocious bloodsuckers led by Marlow (a feral and frightening Danny Huston). And if the characters seem stock and the finale begs suspension of disbelief, the set pieces leading up to it are sufficiently supercharged with suspense and violence to please most horror fans. Standouts in the supporting cast are Ben Foster as the film's Renfield figure and Mark Boone Junior; the disturbing score by Brian Reitzell also merits a mention. --Paul Gaita
Stills from 30 Days of Night (click for larger image)
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Beyond 30 Days of Night
On Widescreen DVD
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The vampires, which have slaughtered the crew of an ocean freighter beached down the coast, look the part of vampires from the old lore, with white, pulpy flesh; malignant and feral eyes; wicked fangs and the eerie ability to move rapidly on all fours on vertical surfaces. They're initially aided by a human accomplice spared from the ship's crew. They speak their own language when they do speak.
"30 Days of Night" was filmed in New Zealand, probably on the South Island whose southern tip is probably the closest settled land to Antarctica (along with South America's Tierra del Fuego), but it looked like Alaska, where I was stationed during my time in the Army. I experienced those long dark winters myself, although Ft. Wainwright, near Fairbanks, was far enough south to have three or four hours of daylight around the winter solstice.
This film has a lot of suspense and horrific moments as normal people try to deal with something that's anything but.
Blu-ray copy came in great condition, and this release does not include a DVD or digital copy. Recommend for fans of vampires and horror.
Top international reviews
The plot is simple and straightforward. It's a story of survival set in the frozen wastes of Alaska, during what seems to be perpetual darkness. If you enjoy vampires as monstrous and ferocious night stalkers then you'll probably like this film. This isn't "Twilight" or "The Vampire Diaries". There's no sexual dimension to the creatures of the night in this movie. It's a well made and well acted film, and the setting - the arctic - adds a chilling effect to the horror. Overall, I highly recommend this movie.
These aren’t your lovey dovey vamps from ‘Twilight’ but old school screeching nasties with rotten teeth who want your blood, not your body. The trouble is, the first half is action packed once the story unfolds, but then settles down into an entertaining but unrealistic survival mode and your suddenly on day 7 then 18 etc! The vampires aren’t subtle with their kills either and would never pass unnoticed and wouldn’t survive long, while the survivors aren’t the quietest or cleverest at creeping about either. Between the two groups there are a lot of bizarre choices and decisions made. You may also need subtitles for the ‘stranger’ is often less than clear.
Disc one loads to 5 trailers before going to main screen offering play, scene selection, set up [5.1/DTS/2.0 and subtitles on/off] and special features [an audio commentaery cast & crew]. Disc 2 is full of extras including how its all done and filmed, amounting to arond 50 minutes spread over 8 topics.
With swearing, plenty of jumpy moments, many very gory, bloody and violent scenes, it makes this a very obvious 18 rating and as such is a ***** doing for Vampires what ‘Jaws’ did for swimming. Best watched on a cold night!
My review title may mislead but Sam Raimi is co producer and it looks like he had some input in the way it was put together. Action and "lore" nicely demytholgised. Fast, almost relentless pace- not a laugh in sight, not too slavish to the comic book - and gory. I even liked the subtitles idea...
Both Leads and main villains are well played. The setting: wide open and very claustraphobic - a very neat trick pulled off by the directors and cast.
Along with "Stakeland" a healthy antidote for bland noughties Bloodsuckers. Underworld... /\
Looks great in High definition, too.
Extra material: some featurettes on 2nd DVD, first part of graphic novel and all packed in nice slipcase.
Not so bad, then.