30 Days of Night

30 Days of Pee Your Pants Terror.
"They're Coming!"

They sure are! Welcome back to Tuesday at The Tagline, a lovely, gloom soaked Tuesday. Winter gets a boy thinking about snow, and naturally the only thing that recommends itself when you think snow is endless night populated by frenzied blood drinking monsters from your darkest nightmares. That's what got me to thinking about 30 Days of Night. As background, 30 Days of Night came out in 2007, before the Twilight craze robbed the vampire genre of any semblance of credibility for at least the next five to ten years. Based on a comic mini-series of the same name (which later spawned a number of other iterations) 30 Days of Night takes place in Barrow, Alaska, well above the arctic line, where something called polar night occurs. That's a wonderful phenomenon where sometimes the sun goes down and doesn't come back up for a long loooong time. During this time, a wonderful, magical thing happens to the inhabitants of Barrow. A shipload of murderous blood drinking fiends shows up on a ship, and sets about massacring everyone in town. Basically they show up and decide to throw their own little blood orgy. Why not right? Enter Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett, remember I was just talking about him!) the town's sheriff, who along with his ex-wife-to-be and several other survivors, attempt to last out the long night while the vampires set about butchering everyone in town.

No fucking glitter over here.
What sorts of vampires are on offer here though? We've seen plenty different sorts over the years, some more monstrous or glamorous than others. These ones are definitely on the far end of the monstrous spectrum. they look dead, black eyes, covered in blood. When they feed, it isn't some sexy blood ballet, no neat holes. They practically rip a person's head off feeding on them and then they do tear the person's head off, to keep them from turning. I guess the vamps don't like company or competition. The way they move in is also calculated, and precise. They send the sole survivor of their last attack ahead of them, to scare the bejeezes out of their next target settlement. Then they move in themselves, using fear and hopelessness as much as the dark and their super strength to eat and kill everyone in sight.

I don't want to be friends with this gentleman.
That sounds pretty scary all by itself, but this movie gets even scarier when you consider the people that these vampires are targeting. These people aren't exactly living the high life within the comforts of civilized society. I imagine that if the world as we know it were to end, the good people of Barrow probably wouldn't even notice, given that they were already living in a horrific, frozen hellscape. These people are tough as nails, armed to the teeth, and they put up a fight. What's horrific is that none of that especially matters. These vampires roll in like a hurricane, massacring the ones who fight as fast as the ones who run.

They use this girl as bait, to try and lure out the survivors.
I really appreciate that about this movie. The bleak camera work, the horrifying, grisly nature of the vampires, set against the cold, ceaseless polar night. For once here is a movie where the vampires are monsters, plain and simple. They are intelligent, they are ruthless, but they're also driven by their overriding need to kill everything in their path and drink their guts. I like that. Josh Hartnett also does a good job of throwing off his pretty boy persona in favor of a lives-in-Alaska and fights terrifying vampires persona. Good for you Josh. Also hats off to Danny Huston (much better here than in Wolverine ugh) as the lead vampire Marlow, who is a frightening exemplar of nihilistic violence.

Merry Christmas everyone.
The movie grossed pretty well, 100 million against a 30 million budget, so I guess audiences mostly shared my enthusiasm about it. Certainly it performed well enough that they made a direct to dvd sequel that was much, much worse. Critics were not so generous, citing poor pacing and repetitive scares as bringing the movie down. One guy said it was too much like 28 Days Later? I think that is maybe the dumbest thing anyone said about the movie. How the hell are they similar? Because people are scary and kill other people? That seems like a bit of a reach there champ. Don't criticize an apple for not being an orange. My feeling is, if you want to watch a movie where vampires do what they were made to: kill people horribly, then look no further.

That's all for today! We are rapidly approaching two things: the release of The Hobbit, and also my Christmas coverage. Get psyched for both!

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