6Thirty days without sunlight sounds like surefire fun; but, with “No whiskey” and “No rum” it’s no wonder most of the townspeople of Barrow, Alaska, migrate south before the annual month of polar nights. After the final sunset, a pack of vampires descend on “Top of the world,” and then devour the remaining residents. So savage and grotesque, these vampires can’t possibly be the spawn of the dapper Count Dracula.  

Bloody Rundown

4Directed by David Slade, who has since directed and executive produced the TV series Hannibal (2013 – ongoing), 30 Days of Night is based on Steve Niles’ comic book mini-series, with illustrations by Ben Templesmith. Niles had initially created the storyline for a film, but after several studios rejected it, he revamped it into a comic. Ultimately, the comic was rewritten for the screen by Niles, along with Stuart Beattie and Brian Nelson.

9Produced by Sam Raimi, Ted Adams, and Rob Tapert (the founder of Ghost House Pictures), the elaborate production of 30 Days of Night was filmed in just 70 days. With production design by Paul Denham Austerberry, the town of Barrow, Alaska, was replicated in New Zealand where the majority of the film was shot. Embellishments were added to mimic Templesmith’s original illustrations of Barrow with the help of art directors Nigel Churcher and Mark Robins, set decorator Jaro Dick, as well as the sizeable art department.

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The film encompasses a unique spin on vampires. With talons for fingernails and mouths full of fangs, these vampires fly in a pack and are more savage than their blood-sucking predecessors. They even have their own language, which was crafted under the direction of a New Zealand linguistic professor. (After all, if the vampires spoke in English with Transylvanian accents, they’d be more humanized.)

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The film’s incomparable makeup was created by Gino Acevedo and his team. The vampires’ appearance of pale skin, upturned black eyes, and exaggerated cheek bones were clearly patterned from nocturnal bats. Acevedo’s résumé also includes the make-up creations in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989), New Nightmare (1994), Species (1995), as well as Wishmaster (1997).  

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Some argue that the special and visual effects of this film are too reminiscent of Danny Boyle’s innovative 28 Days Later (2002). Many horror films, however, have since incorporated the undying trend of CGI, and 30 Days of Night is indisputably unique by its own standard.

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Brian Reitzell, a former drummer of Redd Kross, composed the chiller score, which compliments the interludes of suspense and action. Forgoing the typical contraptions played in musical scores, Reitzell used customized instruments made from the likes of bronze and a pottery wheel.

24Once again, like most horror movies, the performances are great! Town sheriff, Eben Oleson, the film’s hero, was portrayed by the aloof Hollywood heartthrob, Josh Hartnett. He delivered an exceptional performance, executing all his own stunts, despite being afflicted with mono while filming.

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Scream queen Melissa George portrays Stella Oleson, the sheriff’s estranged wife who misses the last flight out of snowbound Barrow. The Australian actress has starred in many horrors, including the remake of The Amityville Horror (2005), Turistas (2006), Triangle (2009), A Lonely Place to Die (2011), among others. (It is refreshing that she has veered from the typecasting safety of starring in romantic comedies.)

Complete with a Creole accent, Ben Foster gives a genuine performance in the role of The Stranger, a menacing freak who reinforces the town’s seclusion by destroying all forms of transportation necessary for escape.

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Danny Huston’s profoundly sinister portrayal of Marlowe, the soulless villain and leader of the vampire pack, attests to his brilliance. Huston most recently graced the television horror screen as The Axeman in American Horror Story: Coven (2013-2014).  22

 

30 Days of Night has since set-off a sequel, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days (2010), a prequel, 30 Days of Night: Blood Trails (2007), and even a six-part series, 30 Days of Night: Dust to Dust (2008).

 

Die-Anne’s Diatribe

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With a setting so clever, and without the usual campy and vampy cliché’s, 30 Days of Night is the goriest and most action-packed vampire film ever to raise my blood pressure. The conclusion, however, is a little too Hollywood to bleed my heart.

 

Plot Mutilator

Coming at Dusk on the first of the Polar Night.

Deadly Details

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Director ∞ David Slade
Producers ∞ Sam Raimi, Ted Adams, and Rob Tapert
Screenwriters ∞ Steve Niles, Stuart Beattie, Brian Nelson
Based on ∞ 30 Days of Night comic book mini-series written by Steve Niles and illustrated by  
     Ben Templesmith
Music ∞ Brian Reitzell
Cinematographer ∞ Jo Willems
Editor ∞ Art Jones
Cinematography ∞ Jo Willems
Production Design ∞ Paul Denham Austerberry
Art Direction ∞ Nigel Churcher and Mark Robins  
Set Decoration ∞ Jaro Dick  
Costume Design ∞ Jane Holland  
Makeup ∞ Gino Acevedo, et al.
Art Department ∞ John Allan, Glenn Altman, Milton Candish, Brendan Heffernan, et al.
Special Effects ∞ Jabin Dickins, Phil Addenbrooke, Christian Beazley, Tim Christensen, Dean   
     Clarke, Jason Durey, Joe Dunckley, Gareth McGone, Hauk Olafsson, Steven Plant, Richard  
     Schuler, Steve Yardley, et al.
Visual Effects ∞ Hovig Alahaidoyan, Albrecht Steinmetz, Matt Welford, et al.
Sound Effects ∞ Ray Beentjes, Roberto Cappannelli, Melanie Graham, et al.
Studios Dark ∞ Horse Entertainment and Ghost House Pictures
Distributor ∞ Columbia Pictures
Casting ∞ Mary Vernieu                                                
Budget ∞ $30 million                                                  
Release Date ∞ October 2007
Running time ∞ 109 minutes
Country ∞ United States
Language ∞ English
                                                                                                          
Cast ∞
Josh Hartnett as Eben Oleson
Melissa George as Stella Oleson
Danny Huston as Marlow                                                           20
Ben Foster as The Stranger
Mark Boone Junior as Beau Brower
Mark Rendall as Jake Oleson
Amber Sainsbury as Denise
Manu Bennett as Billy Kitka
Megan Franich as Iris
Joel Tobeck as Doug Hertz
Elizabeth Hawthorne as Lucy Ikos
Nathaniel Lees as Carter Davies
Craig Hall as Wilson Bulosan
Chic Littlewood as Isaac Bulosan
Peter Feeney as John Riis
Min Windle as Ally Riis
Camille Keenan as Kirsten Toomey
Jack Walley as Peter Toomey
Elizabeth McRae as Helen Munson
Joe Dekkers-Reihana as Tom Melanson
Scott Taylor as Paul Jayko
Grant Tilly as Gus Lambert                                               8
Pua Magasiva as Malekai Hamm
Jared Turner as Aaron
Kelson Henderson as Gabe
John Wraight as Adam Colletta
Dayna Porter as Jeannie Colletta
Kate S. Butler as Michelle Robbins
Patrick Kake as Frank Robbins
Thomas Newman as Larry Robbins
Rachel Maitland-Smith as Gail Robbins
Abbey-May Wakefield as Little Girl Vampire
John Rawls as Zurial
Andrew Stehlin as Arvin
Tim McLachlan as Archibald
Ben Fransham as Heron
Kate Elliott as Dawn                                                 13
Allan Smith as Khan                                             
Jarrod Martin as Edgar                              
Sam La Hood as Strigoi
Jacob Tomuri as Seth
Kate O’Rourke as Inika
Melissa Billington as Kali
Aaron Cortesi as Cicero
Matt Gillanders as Daeron