So once again we have survived.

30 Days of Night: Dark Days

tn_30days2Holy shit, all the sudden it’s October. And you know what that means, this is when I pretty much switch to an all horror programming lineup. I’m gonna be watching horror movies all month, and most likely failing to find a great ’70s or ’80s slasher movie I never saw before. (Don’t worry non-horror junkies, I still got some residual September viewing I haven’t written up yet, and I’ll do some new releases I’m sure.)

We’ll get into the good shit soon enough, but I remembered I had a review I was gonna send to Ain’t It Cool and hadn’t yet, might as well kick off the celebration with a  not-very-anticipated DTV vampire sequel. I know in some cultures that’s considered bad luck, but to hell with it. I ain’t afraid of no curse.

mp_30days230 DAYS OF NIGHT: DARK DAYS is the DTV sequel to 30 DAYS OF NIGHT: REGULAR. It begins by re-enacting the ending of part 1’s re-enactment of the ending of BLADE 2 where a couple sit and watch the sun rise together as a sort of love-suicide because one of them is a vampire who turns to ash and blows away. But I could’ve sworn the lady in the Blade/survivor role was Melissa George from TURISTAS, turns out she’s Kiele Sanchez from A PERFECT GETAWAY as Stella, a fire marshal of Barrow, Alaska and sole survivor of the 30 day vampire siege.

But now she’s in L.A. following her new career in public speaking. She does little talks trying to spread the word that all those people in Alaska were killed by vampires, not a gas leak like they say on TV. I mean, she was a fire marshal, she can tell the difference between gas and vampires. But the whole thing was covered up, probly as part of some questionable oil deal would be my guess. I bet Governor Palin knew about the whole thing too and didn’t say shit, not even on Twitter. And she couldn’t have been bothered to veer her wolf-hunting helicopter off course to bust a couple shots off at those fucking bloodsuckers. Anyway I’m getting off topic here. The point is it’s a surprisingly cool opening as we find out how she uses speaking engagements to lure vampires and kill them in front of everybody, a one-two-punch of extermination and awareness. Killing two bats with one stake.

After some vampire killing and some police harassment she goes back to her hotel room where she’s ambushed by three unfriendly fellow vampire-survivors: Harold Perrineau, a white guy, and a really obnoxious whiny girl who thinks she’s tough because every once in a while she takes a dainty sip from her little flask. They scare Stella, then take her to meet this guy Dane, a sort of anti-vampire guru who’s been her pen pal for a while. You know how they always say if you meet a hot girl on the internet it’s really an old fat dude? Well, if you have an anti-vampire pen pal he’s gonna turn out to be a vampire. And she should’ve know too, because who the hell still writes letters with a typewriter?

Anyway these guys recruit her, not for a support group but a vampire hunting team. They’ve used Dane’s insider knowledge to track a vampire queen to L.A. and they’re on a suicide mission to take the bitch out. I don’t know if it works like bees or what – don’t they just hatch a new queen if you kill it? I guess they must know what they’re doing.

This queen is played by Mia Kirschner, who I gotta admit is really attractive even with monster fangs and contacts. I can see why they’d follow her. She’s planning another Barrow, Alaska 30 day all-you-can-suck blood buffet, so the movie is about the humans trying to stop the boat from leaving. There’s not another 30 days of night in the sequel. So it should be called NOT ANOTHER 30 DAYS OF NIGHT!. Or also I thought maybe 30 DAYS OF NIGHT: DARK DAZE would be good, if there was some vampire stoner hijinks in there. Adding a “National Lampoon’s” or “American Pie Presents:” on the front could also work.

It’s nicely shot with lots of faces covered in dark shadows with little golden highlights along the edges. It has a pretty cool ending, a cool way of defeating the queen (or DO they?) and an unexpectedly fucked up conclusion. And I respect that it’s not just a lower budget, lower quality rehash of the original like so many DTV sequels (I’m looking at you, three different WILD THINGS sequels) especially since the original didn’t entirely work and nobody needs to see a not-as-good version of that.

On the other hand the first one did have that cool premise and setting. By moving the story to L.A. you make it more like every other vampire movie. It’s like vampire hunters from VAMPIRES going into a dark building like I AM LEGEND, dealing with vampires and their sycophant minions in the police force like the “familiars” in BLADE, so it reminds you of all these movies that have much better stories, characters and slayings. I don’t remember what rules were established in the first one but this time they just kill vampires by shooting them with machine guns. Not alot of tactics and weirdly not alot of bullet holes even when they shoot up a small hotel room.

So it’s not that bad, but you and I both know we’re in an age when really good DTV movies do exist, so “not that bad” isn’t a recommendation anymore. E for effort, I guess.

But if you hear I got killed by a gas leak don’t believe it.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Friday, October 1st, 2010 at 3:06 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

37 Responses to “30 Days of Night: Dark Days”

  1. 30 DAYS OF NIGHT was a nice idea, but wow talk about dropping the ball in areas which matter for a good horror movie for me: Mood, atmosphere, cutting suspense, something interesting for the brain (and if possible for the boner too), decent acting, etc.

    Not worth watching.

  2. The original wasted a fantastic idea and now this sequel no one asked for doesn’t even use that premise? It gets knocked down to macguffin status? Laaaaame.

    “Killing two bats with one stake.” Not laaaaame.

  3. Totally unrelated but somehow relevant (? I’m not sure), has anybody here seen the documentary DARK DAYS? It just somehow popped up in my head again thanks to 30 days of night. I’ve always searched for it but never could quite find a physical copy myself. I remember it catching my interest when I was heavily into DJ Shadow (since he doesn’t really do soundtracks)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dh4s78Db5OQ

    I don’t know anybody else who has seen it. In real life I mean.

    On the topic of 30 days (original, not sure about the sequel yet), I actually kinda liked it. It had some of the best looking vampires I’ve seen since the blade era and it had a nice atmosphere to go along with it. I actually had high hopes for David Slade, his first two movies as overrated as they may gave me the feeling that he was at least trying visually in my opinion. His last movie about vampires doesn’t really add any credibility to his filmography, but I’m hoping he’ll make Wolverine work (since he really can’t do any worse).

  4. I think the first movie is a good nice slow burn with some excellent decapitations. This movie everyone is a mess, professional vampire hunters who apparently do their job by not having plans and letting the whiny girl scream about how the blond chick who’s good at what she does is going to get them killed. If one were to cast actual retards as the vampire hunters they’d come across less fucking retarded than the quality Cambridge Academy thespians they hired for this piece.

  5. Hey vern,

    I don’t normally recommend movies like this but i think you should check out “Stan Helsing”. Total pot smoker, horror, comedy. I laughed my ass off. Of course I was hyped up on three gallons of pepsi and about eight chocolate bars.

  6. The original Paul

    October 1st, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    I’ve never seen, or planned to see, either this or the original. But you gotta love the quote on the box art.

  7. Love the quote! I wish I could see the reviewer’s name. It’s the Peter Travers of DTV-related internet sites.

  8. I can’t imagine Vern would make it to the end of Stan Helsing, let alone enjoy it and write up a review.But I could be wrong, and to each his own.

    Vern-You all ready got your flicks picked out for the month or you going to start another epic suggestion thread?

  9. I thought this qualified as BAD DTV, not just average. It’s so slow with dialogue that just explains everything we know about vampires and action movies with small words. The idea of the public speaking/vampire hunt was good but it just becomes dark, unlit gunfights where you can’t tell what’s going on.

  10. Rewrite,

    I really liked Dark Days (the documentary about the underground dwellers… the bums, not the WUF’s). I came across it the same way as you did, being a big DJ Shadow fan. I liked that it actually had a happy ending, for the most part. I missed the beginning of it, though, so I’ve been wanting to rewatch it but I never think about it when browsing the Netflix stuff, I’m gonna go fix that now. Thanks for the reminder!

    Also, I was big into collecting comics when the comic version of 30 Days of Night came out and made a big impression on everyone, but I never could get into it because I wasn’t a big fan of the artwork. I actually liked the movie version a little better just because I could enjoy the story without being distracted by not liking the art. The idea of it spinning off into a rehash of all the other vampire movies doesn’t really do much for me, although the inclusion of vampire Mia Kirshner could probably sway me.

  11. Loudabagel, the quote is from “Ryan McLelland, Ain’t It Cool News.” The Google machine tells me that’s “Irish Rican,” who I never heard of until he was quoted on the DVD for ‘Boondock Saints 2: Can You Believe That Guy Finally Really Made a Boondock Saints 2.’

    I don’t really get quotes like that. This vampire movie for adults and teens makes a vampire movie for kids seem like a school for younger kids? Maybe it made sense in context.

    But I always remember the ad for Hellraiser that said “Makes ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ look like ‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.'” I tried to get in on the action with “‘Eastern Promises’ makes ‘The Godfather’ look like ‘Goodfellas'” but unfortunately they didn’t put that on the DVD box.

  12. Hey, Vern, are you going to take readers’ recommendations this time or do you have all horror movies that you can possibly see in October lined up?
    In any case, I’d highly recommend a Canadian slasher VISITING HOURS (1982). Saw it recently for the first time, and now it’s in my top four slashers, along with HALLOWEEN, TCSM and EYES OF A STRANGER.
    Michael fucking Ironside’s Colt Hawker is probably the most cunning, resourceful and determined killer ever, he’s like the Jason Voorhees and MacGyver’s illegitimate child (wait to see what he uses for a mask). And the setting is unique – I don’t think there’re any other slashers set in a hospital expect for HALLOWEEN 2, and certainly not in a Canadian hospital!
    So you can 1) watch a great forgotten slasher 2) enjoy the actions of an awesome killer and 3) see it all unfolding against the backdrop of a working Healh Care system. A perfect Vern experience, in my humble opinion.

  13. I have a couple movies lined up, I’m gonna try to just play it by ear and not overwhelm myself with plans, but I just wrote down Visiting Hours. I know that’s been recommended in previous years too, but you got a good sales pitch there.

  14. I have to say, I find it kind of dissapointing that they focus on the vampire’s plans and social structure in this one. Other than the setting, I thought the coolest thing about the original 30 DAYS OF NIGHT was the completely alien nature of the intruders. We’ve had tons of films about vampire society, but it was kind of cool to simply have them be strangers from somewhere else about whom we learn almost nothing. Once you get into vampire queens and such I think some of the aura of mystery is gone.

    Also because I know you’re always about supporting quality DTV films, I reccomend THE DARK again this year. Not 100% successful, but ambitious and creepy with a strong cast and classy direction from the director of GINGER SNAPS.

  15. Watch Cold Prey 2 (Fritt Vilt 2) for another good slasher set in a hospital. Also the first is pretty good, and the prequel is being released this month in Norway. There has been surprisingly a lot of good Norwegian horror films, and this month seems to be really good with both Cold Prey 3 and Troll Hunters being released. Also recommend Dead Snow.

  16. GINGER SNAPS!

    someone said GINGER SNAPS!!!!!!!

    .
    .
    .

    Sorry. I feel much better now.

    And I’d like to get back inside.

    There’s nothing wrong with me and if there was I’m much better now.

    You gotta let me come back inside…

  17. Yup, figured I’d get it out of the way upfront and save you all that tense anticipation. Now its just a matter of bringing up DON’T LOOK NOW and anything by Larry Cohen and we’ll be set.

  18. Any room for The People Under the Stairs? 1991 Wes Craven

  19. Sweet, I’m actually starting out my month of horror movies, going through my DVD collection in alphabetical order. I’ve finished off ALIEN, AMERICAN WEREWOLF, and ARMY OF DARKNESS, and sometime over the weekend I’ll watch Bubba-Ho-Tep for the first time in three years. Looking forward to it.

  20. The original Paul

    October 2nd, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Vern, the quotes don’t HAVE to make sense. In my not-so-humble opinion, sometimes the most apparently non-sensical quote is the most entertaining.

    Let me have a go… since Sir Vince brought it up anyway…

    WILFORD BRIMLEY! Makes Mickey Rourke look like Danielle Panabaker!
    STEVEN SEAGAL! Makes Michael Jai White fight like Anthony Anderson!
    WENSLEYDALE! Makes Jarlsberg smell like Gorgonzola!
    MANURE! Makes bovine feces taste like shit!

  21. I remember Roger Ebert once commenting of how many movies have used blurbs from his reviews which panned the movie. See CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE.

  22. @rewrite- David Slade made a Twilight movie about a million times better than I expected it to be and sometimes when I’m in the store and I pass the other Twilight abominations I find myself having micro fantasies about buying the third one. I won’t go that far, but I’ll probably see it and review it so that I can tell a million more embarrassing stories such as this in the process.

  23. “Stella, a fire marshal of Barrow, Alaska and sole survivor of the 30 day vampire siege.”
    I thought that mentally traumatised little girl survived too?

    Anyway, is the unexpected conclusiong that *POTENTIAL SPOILER*

    Hartnett’s character from the first movie is brought back to unlife at the end and apparently turns Stella? Because I read that happened in the comics, and there was a further story with them together as vampires and looking into having kids, which isn’t that commonly explored in vampire films

    *END POTENTIAL SPOILER*

  24. Personally, I love things that make some things look like other things.

  25. like booze making that ugly tranny next to you look like a hot chick you want to do.

  26. caruso_stalker217

    October 2nd, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Who needs the booze?

  27. Brandon and rewrite – I actually did watch Twilight III this week and have to say my hopes aren’t high for anything else David Slade-related. On paper it seems like it would be the perfect Twilight movie for this websight (or the only bearable one). More horror elements, a big Braveheart-style battle in an open field, a Rocky-esque “gonna fly now” training montage(!), an effective “From Dusk Till Dawn 3” vampire western flashback, and a condensed 5 minute flapper version of “I Spit on Your Grave” thrown in for good measure. Yeah I know I just made Twilight sound awesome, but Slade just somehow made it limp and flat and lifeless. I actually DON’T blame the source material for once here, the same cheesy dialogue and rote plot could have been brought to the screen in a more engaging way, but it’s like Slade knew this is the most actiony and “guy-friendly” of the series and went on autopilot.

  28. WARNING (cuz I’d feel guilty of dereliction of duty if I didn’t do this): Avoid Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D. I know the word “evil” makes it tempting in the October film review season and that 3D makes almost everything better, in my opinion. I even look forward to seeing the new Saw 3D joint, but this stupid video game-based movie will put you to sleep. It has about 3-5 minutes of not completely useless & stupid action and 3Dery. It’s not even interesting enough to warrant a clever takedown piece, though maybe Vern is up to the challenge.

  29. The original Paul

    October 3rd, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Caruso – I could use some right now. Not to make the ugly tranny look like a hot chick, you understand, I could just use some.

  30. I righteous don´t see movies evolving, For me it´s similar the old movies, without the healthy field attribute were untold better. They had people.

  31. I did not like the first comic book, so i have not seen the movie.

  32. I, MADMAN (1989) and Halloween III are the two most underrated horror movies ever.

  33. Is there some sort of vocal contingent of I, MADMAN haters out there or something?

    I don’t think it’s underrated so much as unknown/little seen. It is a nifty little movie, though.

  34. I agree that I, MADMAN is underrated only in the sense that not enough people have seen it in order to rate it. One of my favorite blind rentals from the VHS days.

    HALLOWEEN III, however, has come full circle to being overrated.

  35. caruso_stalker217

    October 4th, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    The third channel, it’s still on. Please, take off the third channel. The third channel, it’s still running. Stop it, please, for God’s sake, please stop it. There’s no more time! Please stop it. Stop it now. Turn it off! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! STOP IIIIIIIIT!

  36. Has Vern ever watched ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE? And no, it’s not a romantic comedy, it’s a slasher made in 2006 staring Amber Heard.

  37. Not like booze or any chemical agent. I like things that by sheer magnitude alter your perception of other things. Not just a movie so good it makes other great movies pale in comparison. More like movies so violent they make other gorefests look like kids movies, or movies so racist they make Song of the South look like Pearl Harbor. Wait, I’m confusing myself…

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