Friday, December 9, 2016

When Man Is The Deadliest Catch, or Thoughts on 30 Days of Night

Imagine The Thing (1982) but with vampires, and you have the general idea of 30 Days of Night (2007), from the graphic novel of the same name by Steve Niles.  Far above the Arctic Circle in Barrow, AK, a tight knit community is besieged by a swarm of vampires who take advantage of the lack of daylight.  Square jawed Hollywood hero Josh Hartnett portrays Sheriff Eben Oleson while Melissa George is Stella, his estranged wife and City Fire Department Inspector.  The first third of the movie is a set-up, as the town shuts down for the season and Eben investigates dead sled dogs and vandalized helicopters. 
And like all vampire movies, the vamps are the real stars; they come across the ice on a frozen ghost ship, moving fast in the shadows.  They’re not Eastern European supermodels; in one of the most effective uses of digital makeup they’re made to look feral with subtle tweaks to the eyes and jawlines.  They're barely human and speak their own vampire language in a series of bird clicks and growls.  In a nice touch they’re unaffected by the cold, and walk around Barrow in street clothes.
Danny Huston, who you may remember as Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein (2015) and The Axeman in American Horror Story: Coven does an excellent job as Marlow, the lead vampire.  During his introduction he drags his animal claw fingernail across a record, a scene so cool they put it in the trailer.
The Thing reference is not entirely accurate, as the movie doesn’t have the advantage of the Ennio Morricone themesong.  In fact 30 Days of Night is remarkable for its absence of a soundtrack, relying for the most part on ambient noise, howling wind and, later on, explosions and screams.   It’s a very cool premise but it doesn’t seem practical; it looks like the vamps rip through most of the town in a couple nights, there doesn’t seem like enough people for a thirty day feast. 
New Zealand actor Megan Franich is particularly effective as the alpha female vampire, she’s listed in the credits as Iris, but as these vamps don’t speak English there’s no way of knowing that.  Also watch out for fellow New Zealander Manu Bennett from Fear the Walking Dead as Deputy Billy Kitka.
David Slade directed the admittedly far superior Hard Candy (2005), and this movie seemed to struggle between a drama/thriller and a supernatural action movie.  But it’s always great to see Danny Huston out of respect for his father, iconic director John Huston of The Maltese Falcon (1941), The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948) and The African Queen (1951). 



my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).