Review: 30 Days of Night Delivers

This might sound crazy, but I was hoping I could engage you all in a little experiment: Raise your hand if you can name a famous vampire that wouldn't rather have sex with you than feast upon your warm blood.

Personally, I can only think of two. Nosferatu’s Count Orlok and, of course, Blade, who is actually only half-vampire and doesn't seem to like chicks or even dudes because of it anyway. I'm sure there are others, especially in the realm of B-films and the low-grade horror flicks of the '80s. While I'm sure some of you raised your hands for bloodsuckers other than my picks, I don't think the few hands I see waving in the back of my readership are going to shock me by pointing out an obvious one I've missed. To those of you who want to shout out the vamps in the big-screen and TV adaptations of Salem's Lot, don't; there aren't any famous vampires in that book or in the movies, so your point is only that you're a douche bag. Stop trying to show me up.

Anyways, my point is this: Almost every vampire we can name, despite how their ilk is firmly rooted in the monster community - mostly because Universal Studios and, later, Hammer Films decreed this - aren't exactly scary. At all. I mean, did you find Tom Cruise's Lestat very terrifying? Moreover, did you find Anne Rice’s books about Lestat very terrifying? Of course not, because, for Rice, vampires are somehow both asexual and sexual; her books ooze with sexuality, despite the absolute lack of the act. Bram Stoker's and Bela Lugosi's Draculas, Barnabas Collins, Angel, Spike…these vampires weren't to be feared, despite their blood lust. Filmmakers wanted you to like them and, when they perished, kind of wish you could have had a bit more of them first. Maybe grab a beer, watch the game on Sunday, make out a little bit…

This is what makes 30 Days of Night the best vampire film of the past 20 years and, if not for Christopher Lee’s Hammer movies, arguably the best of the past half-century. In director David Slade's glorified B-movie, the vampires are never supposed to be appreciated. They're to run and hide from, to scream at, to kill as awesomely and creatively as you can with axes and snow plows and weird, grinding machinery that has something to do with drilling for oil. Based on the comic book by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, 30 Days of Night defies 110 years of genre expectations and elevates vampires to someplace they’ve rarely gone in pop culture: true monster status. Too bad they had to hire Josh Hartnett to be the one to take them on. That’s kind of like hiring Dustin Diamond or that kid with the fro from Boy Meets World to save the world, isn't it?

Amazingly, though - and this, thanks to little dialogue - Hartnett doesn’t bring the whole thing crashing down as he defends his home of Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost town in the US, from a pack of vampires intent upon treating him and his friends as a buffet for the night that will reign after the sun sets for thirty days. There’s gore; there's blood-spattered cinematography; there's intestines-dripping suspense. There’s no nudity, but, hey, Slade apparently didn't get the memo about everything that's expected of B-movies. Luckily, he got everything else right.

If you're sick of doe-eyed vampires with chiseled cheekbones and the need to get all touchy-feely with you, check out 30 Days of Night. Vampires haven't been this cool in a long time.

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Cole Haddon, is the newest addition to the film.com team. We couldn't be more pleased with our new toy, although we're fervently hoping Josh Hartnett doesn't beat the living hell out of him next time they have lunch.