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30 Days of Night

USA 2007
produced by
Sam Raimi, Robert G. Tapert, Joseph Drake (executive), Aubrey Henderson (executive), Nathan Kahane (executive), Mike Richardson (executive) for Ghost House Pictures, Dark Horse Comics, Columbia
directed by David Slade
starring Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster, Mark Boone Junior, Mark Rendall, Amber Sainsbury, Manu Bennett, Megan Franich, Joel Tobeck, Elizabeth Hawthorne, Nathaniel Lees, Craig Hall, Chic Littlewood, Peter Feeney, Min Windle, Camille Keenan, Jack Walley, Elizabeth McRae, Joe Dekkers-Reihana, Scott Taylor, Grant Tilly, Pua Magasiva, Jared Turner, Kelson Henderson, John Wraight, Patrick Kake, Thomas Newman, Rachel Maitland-Smith, Abbey-May Wakefield, John Rawls, Andrew Stehliln, Tim McLachlan, Ben Fransham, Kate Elliott, Allan Smith, Jarrod Martin, Sam La Hood, Jacob Tomuri, Kate O'Rourke, Melissa Billington, Aaron Cortesi, Matt Gillanders
screenplay by Steve Niles, Stuart Beattie, Brian Nelson, based on the comic by Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith, published by Dark Horse Comics, music by Brian Reitzell, special effects by Film Effects Co, special makeup effects by Weta Workshop, visual effects by Cobalt FX, Digital Post, PRPVFX, Weta Digital

review by
Sam Jones from DVD is Go

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Barrow Alaska is the most Northernly town in America. So far North in fact that for 30 days in deep winter the sun doesn't rise at all. A perfect place for vampires, who, having sent in a willing human slave to vandalize communications, destroy transportation and murder the huskies, descend upon the town to wreck havoc and feed on the helpless population.

A fantastic premise for a fearsome horror movie then, but the results are mixed...

Josh Hartnett, never the most charismatic of actors, puts in a servicible lead performance as sheriff of the luckless town. He has to help protect the dwindling towns people from some of the most frightening bloodsuckers ever put on film. While most modern screen vampires are either foppish aristocrats or resemble denizens of a Goth club near you, the fanged demons of 30 Days of Night are truly nightmarish. Ugly, dirty creatures with sallow flesh and rotted teeth, they are truly bestial. Merciless, predatory and unrelenting in their desire for human blood, they make up for some of the patchier elements in this uneven film.

The main problem with the film is that it's hard to judge the passing of time. Although occasionally the number of days flashes up on the screen, for the most part the film feels like it's happening on one night, rather than over the course of a number of weeks. A few three week beards and the odd complaint about food doesn't really convey the sheer terror of being hunted for an extended period of time.

Dodgy dialogue rears it's ugly head as well. Yes, I know this is a horror film and ropey word play should be par for the course, but the movie is excellent in other respects so it's a real shame that many scenes are ruined by cheesy, badly executed chat and cliched relationship drama.

The Sheriff is in an troubled coupling with a fire marshall, Stella, who has been stranded after missing her plane to Anchorage but, even taking into consideration the icy setting of the movie, there's precious little heat between the two of them.

The worst moment for poor scripting comes when the remaining survivors happen upon a young girl who has been turned as they forage for food in the General Store. A scene that neatly echoes the zombie child in Night of the Living Dead, they stumble upon her as she sucks the blood out of an unfortunate grown-up. It's a shock when she turns around and reveals her fangs and gore caked face. But then she delivers some awful dialogue about who she's going to play with next. A chilling howl would have been better. The adult vampires emit a range of grunts, hisses and screams throughout the movie but instead we have a terrible line that kills an otherwise great shock set piece stone dead. It brought to mind that awful moment in the generally fine remake of Dawn of the Dead when the audience is treated to a glimpse of a zombie baby. The gross and disgusting beheading of the vampire child that follows is seriously deflated by this ill conceived moment.

Which leads me on to the other big problem. The film has a habit of cutting away from the blood letting. Call me sick, jaded even, but when I watch a horror movie, I've signed up for gore...and guts. When the axes start swinging I want to see the bone, gristle and blood. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of Claret on show and this film has one of the screen's finest beheadings. One the survivors is about to turn having suffered a bite and the grim sight of his head being separated from his shoulders is a spectacular, drawn out slice of gross out terror.

Unfortunately, the film makers made the mistake of thinking that leaving the gore to our imagination for at least half the kills in this movie would aid the suspense. That's fine is your making a film about three geeks in a wood with a camcorder and no money, but when you've got a good budget and the film' about drinking blood, cannibalistic murder and VAMPIRES, for Gods sake, let's see the violence. I'm over 18. I can handle it.

It may seem like I'm being unjustly picky about the film but I had high hopes for this one. The setting and concept had a lot of potential and there are moments of real, palpable terror but the whole thing rings a little hollow in the end. It's not a complete wash out and is still worth seeing if only for the vampires themselves. They are the stars of this film and will remain in the memory long after the human characters, who exist to be eaten and little else. The Scandanavian vampire movie Frostbite toyed with the same concept a few years back to excellent effect, coming across like a snowbound Lost Boys, but 30 Days of Night, despite some great moments is the lesser film. Hardcore horror fans will still find much to love though.

 

review © by Sam Jones from DVD is Go

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD