With Halloween rapidly approaching, everyone will be looking for great horror movies to scare their way through October. Today, Riverside Horror brings you a guest reviewer, horror friend Sam Santiago, also known as “The Horror Man,” from TrulyDisturbing.com.
Born and raised in California, Sam has been a movie reviewer for over a decade and continues to be active in the horror community, as well as being Editor in Chief of TrulyDisturbing.com
Sam shares his thoughts on one of the most ingenius takes on the vampire genre to date with the 2007 film 30 Days of Night. His “Drive-In Movie Review” of the film also pays homage to that famous horror reviewer, Joe Bob Briggs, with his inclusion of those famous drive-in movie totals. The DVD is available at Riverside area Barnes and Noble stores, Best Buy and Target stores.
Directed by David Slade, the film stars Josh Hartnett, Melissa George and Danny Huston. What would happen if you were stuck with a terrorizing band of vampires during Alaska’s 30 days of total darkness? How would you survive with no sunlight to ward off the bloodsuckers for an entire month.
Vampires. Much is debated upon when the subject of vampires is brought up. Yet one thing is for sure, they use us for food. Steve Niles, who wrote the original graphic novel of 30 Days of Night has said, “They (vampires) are not sexy, do not want to seduce us, they want to hunt us and kill us. They are killers and shouldn’t be viewed as anything less.” Right you are, Mr. Niles.
30 Days of Night is exactly this. It is a story about vampires descending on a town that gets stuck without sunlight for, you guessed it, 30 days. The film shows how the vampires systematically disable all ways of communication and cut off all power to the town of Barrow (which is actually a real town in Alaska). Slowly, things go from bad to bat-shit insane! A stranger roams into town warning everyone that “You’re all already dead!” and boy, he ain’t far from the truth. People start dropping like flies.
Eben (Josh Hartnett) and his ex-wife Stella (Melissa George) fight to survive, find out they still love one another, and help other survivors outlast the vampire onslaught for 30 days, spending most of their time in an abandoned attic.
This film is exceedingly dark (figuratively and literally), and this is established right from the start. Within the first forty minutes of the film, there are at least 25 on-screen kills. This fact alone should impress you. And, yes, it’s supposed to be dark (in the literal sense) because there is no sun, but the atmosphere turns almost pitch black, and one can just sense the isolation. I really enjoyed this aspect of the film. Once the vampire leader Marlow (Danny Huston) hits the screen, all hell breaks loose and all hope is seemingly lost.
The bloodsuckers of 30 Days of Night bring new energy to the vampire mythos by simply being primitive. Vampires have long been cast as creatures of romance, seduction, and charisma. But not these. They are so sunken into their dark insanity, most have seemingly lost the ability to speak and must communicate via animalistic screeches, gibbers, and screams.
Before I get into what was liked and what was disliked about the film I must, of course, look at the Drive-In totals. What, you might ask are those? Well, they break down how many dead bodies, mutilations, and just craziness that goes on in the film. So without further adieu, here are your Drive-In totals for 30 Days of Night.
5 Dead Dogs
45 Dead Bodies (on-screen)
2 Exploding Heads
1 Head Stomp
4 Throats Ripped Out
1 Face Burning
And a fist down throat scene that to this day gives me the chills!
In 30 Days of Night, director David Slade has proven he has a knack for tense, contextual horror; those awful situations that manage to creep right under your skin. The townsfolk’s fight to survive is a horrendous and passionate battle. There’s one shot in particular that is stunning; a bird’s-eye view of a frozen street, panning slowly over the breadth of nearly the entire town, capturing a long and frenzied battle between the vampires and their victims. This shot goes on and on and does so much to impress the impact and scale of the devastation and horror faced by the small Alaskan town. This shot is just amazing in scope!
30 Days of Night is comparable in multiple ways to John Carpenter’s The Thing. There is the obvious connection in that the protagonists are put under siege in a frozen arctic environment, cut off from the protecting grace of civilization. The citizens of Barrow know next to nothing about the vampires that descend upon them, which means the viewer’s knowledge will be limited as well.
Lastly, the high level of tension with little comedic relief is comparable in that both films are rather unforgiving in the amount of stress they exude.
This is a top-notch horror film that brings energy and power back to the vampire mythos and was one of the best horror films of 2007.
Big thanks to Sam Santiago for sharing his review with Examiner this week. Hopefully, you’ll add this unique vampire film to your viewing schedule for October, maybe even Halloween night.
Check back for more reviews of great Halloween horror films all through the month of October, including new reviews in our Flashback Horror Vault series.
For great horror news, check out TrulyDisturbing.com and follow Sam on Twitter @thehorrorman138
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