What happens when the sun isn’t there to drive away the creatures of the night?
Before directing the films Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Nightmare Cinema, and the new horror movie Dark Harvest set to release this September 2022, David Slade directed the vampire flick 30 Days of Night and sought to answer this question.
30 Days of Night features a group of ancient vampires led by Marlow (Danny Huston) descending upon an Alaskan town where once a year, the sun sets and doesn’t rise again for 30 days. The story follows a band of survivors, including the town’s sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett), and his estranged wife Stella (Melissa George), as they try to elude the vampires in the endless night.
Fun Fact: The real town experiences darkness much longer than its cinematic counterpart. Utqiagvik, Alaska (formerly known as Barrow) has no sunlight for roughly 65 days, from mid-November to mid-January.
This Ghost House Pictures film premiered on October 19th, 2007, and was nominated for 14 different awards. The film was quickly overshadowed, though, as 2007/2008 saw the release of numerous films still lauded today, including but not limited to: I am Legend, 1408, The Mist, Hostel II, and Rob Zombie’s Halloween, among many others.
Like three of the films listed above, which were adapted from books, 30 Days of Night first existed as reading material, though in this case, it was a mini comic book series.
The film depicts vampires in a fantastically terrifying manner, keeping viewers plastered to their seats until the end, which then sees viewers leaving those seats to get up and yell at the TV. (Or is that just me?)
Putting the “Blood” in Bloodsuckers
The vampires begin to rack up a body count within the town as soon as they arrive. They drink blood as traditional vampires do but have to remove their victims’ heads, so they don’t transform into vampires themselves after being bitten. This clause saw the vampires leave a murderous bloodbath across the entire town. However, there is much more to the vampires than the stealthy carnage they deliver.
The type of vampire presented in 30 Days of Night is my favorite variety. They are intelligent and use an ancient language to communicate (though they speak in a fictional language). They have the elegance and poise that society has come to associate with vampires while simultaneously acting as viciously violent predators. Moreover, these vampires look the part. They are not romanticized or gorgeous; instead, the movie shows that turning into a vampire sees a horrific transformation take place. The face will transform, the teeth will grow sharper, and the eyes will turn black.
This appearance was the case for all but the leader of the vampires, Marlow. He looks more human than his vampire counterparts (but more on that later).
Fun Fact: The film drew some inspiration from Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot as the antagonist was named Barlow.
How 30 Days of Night Ends
What starts as a great movie gets frustrating fast. The town is burning down, and the film’s climax approaches as Stella calls Eben to let him know she’s trapped. Thinking quickly, he injects himself with a dead vampire’s blood. Planning on having just long enough to fight the vampires once and for all before turning into a mindless bloodsucker himself, he saves the day. Now that part, I will allow.
The hero becoming the enemy to defeat the enemy is a terrific trope. I will even overlook that, given Marlow’s leadership role and different appearance, killing him did not kill the other vampires as I had expected.
However, it is with Eben Oleson’s death that the film goes wrong. Not because he dies, though. All hail the conquering hero who sacrificed his own life to save his ex-wife’s life. Obviously, he cannot be allowed to live where he will join up with his other vampire buddies and massacre more unsuspecting towns. However, it is the way that he dies that grinds my gears.
He was not offered the swift, humane death given to much of the vampire squad that descended upon the Alaskan town, e.g., a quick bullet to the head. Instead, he gets slowly, painfully disintegrated to dust by the sunlight as Stella holds him, charring in her hands. It made for a memorable ending, but ouch. He seriously got the short end of the stick.
And for what? To save the woman who wasn’t that into him anyway. She only reached out to him when she needed something from him; he infected himself to save her, and then she couldn’t even give him the dignity of a decent death.
Don’t get me wrong. Eben Oleson choosing to be a hero does not make Stella obligated to give him her love. But does it make her obligated to say, “Hey, you sacrificed yourself to save me. Let me at least spare you the agony of what has to be the most excruciating death of all time’? I believe so.
But I suppose nice guys finish last… or get slowly obliterated by the sun.
All in all, the film is a lot of fun. Eben Oleson was unfortunately doomed to a fate of unrequited love and ashes, but the vampires put on one hell of a show. Fifteen years later (has it really been that long?), it’s still one of my favorite vampire movies.
Do you agree with the ending? Sound off in the comments below!
It Came From Shudder: December Edition
It’s the first Friday of December! You know what that means, it’s time to share a small selection of movies that we’ve watched, or are looking forward to watching on Shudder. Look, we get it, Shudder serves up tons of content and it’s constantly adding new stuff to its catalog. So we’re here to help you with a handful of recommendations.
What to watch on Shudder this Month
A Wounded Fawn
This trailer caught my eye from the start. From what I gather, it’s about a woman who goes on a weekend getaway with a man she’s been seeing who happens to be a serial killer. Starring Sarah Lind and Josh Ruben, this movie looks very suspenseful… and weird? I can’t wait to watch this and get to the bottom of all the weird visuals sprinkled into the trailer.
Christmas Bloody Christmas
Directed by Joe Begos, this movie takes place on Christmas Eve and pits a record store owner against a violent homicidal robot Santa Claus. Yes, I know how that sounds, and yes, I’m sure it’s going to be awesome. The trailer looks so colorful, and it immediately transported me to my second most favorite time of the year, Christmas. Robo-Santa Plus looks brutal and over the top, two things I love in my horror. Christmas Bloody Christmas is available to stream on Shudder starting December 9th.
Scare Package 2: Rad Chad’s Revenge
If you’re a fan of horror anthologies like we, then you’re going to love Scare Package 2: Rad Chad’s Revenge. The highly anticipated sequel to fan favorite Scare Package follows Rad Chad’s funeral, where attendees must survive death traps based on Chad’s favorite movies.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Shudder outdid themselves this time. Bringing us not just A Nightmare on Elm Street, but the entire collection! Do yourself a favor and rewatch these movies immediately, because I can guarantee you it’s been too long since the last time you did. As a bonus make sure to give Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street a watch. Seeing Nightmare on Elm Street 2 actor Mark Patton’s perspective and experience as a gay actor makes for some of the most touching, compelling TV in recent memory.
Joe Bob’s Goultide Get-Together
Live streaming Friday, December 16th at 9 PM Eastern on Shudder TV. This holiday-themed episode will surely be filled with fun facts, awesome interviews, and a double feature that will have us all tweeting in excitement. As of now, we have no idea which movies will play and that’s half the fun! The other half? Guessing Darcy’s cosplays for the night. If you have never participated in a Joe Bob live stream, make sure you tune in on time and have Twitter ready to engage! It’s a good time. If you happen to miss the live stream, no worries! The episode will be available to stream later on in the weekend.
Next time you’re looking for something to watch on Shudder, make sure to stream these titles!
There’s News Down in Newville: ‘The Mean One’ (Horror-Parody of ‘The Grinch’) Trailer Has Arrived
As the release of The Grinch horror parody draws near, The Mean One trailer is finally here!
David Howard Thornton, who has recently skyrocketed in popularity due to his fantastic performance as Art the Clown in the Terrifier films, plays the titular “Mean One.” Given his previous success with making a monster that can be as entertaining as terrifying, he is a perfect match for the role of the antagonist in this Christmas horror comedy.
Directed by Steven Lamorte, the film follows a grown-up Cindy You-Know-Who (Krystle Martin) who witnessed her mother be murdered by the Christmas-hating green monster years prior. As the trailer shows Cindy arming herself with weapons, Krystle Martin’s character promises to make for a badass female lead.
One marked difference between this film and its source material is that it gives us a monster amongst humans rather than a creature amongst other creatures. Judging by the trailer, that will be far from the only difference offered by the horror parody of the Dr. Seuss Christmas favorite.
He may not stop Christmas from coming, but he will make it his own.
Check out The Mean One in theaters on December 9th!