Today’s Saturday Night Double Feature is a double dose of vicious vampires and character actor Mark Boone Junior (Sons Of Anarchy’s Bobby Munson) fighting said vampires! Win, win!
30 DAYS OF NIGHT (2007)
A refreshing alternative to romantic schmaltz like Twilight. There are no effeminate vampires baring roses and bringing chocolate here, these vampires are baring teeth and bringing death and they are vicious hungry monsters and they’ll kill you long before they kiss you. Josh Hartnett and Melissa George play estranged husband and wife sheriffs, Eben and Stella Oleson, in the small remote Alaskan town of Barrow. As the town is about to enter the 30 day long polar night, an army of vampires (led by a creepy Danny Houston) descend upon it, cutting the town off from the rest of the world and giving themselves 30 days and nights of darkness for the blood suckers to ravage the isolated citizens and drink them dry. Now the two estranged spouses must overcome a living nightmare and gather survivors and somehow try to live out the month of terror as the undead predators comb the town for food.
As directed by David Slade (Hard Candy), 30 Days Of Night is a solid enough action/ horror and there is plentiful gore to splash the snow covered landscape, a lot of suspenseful situations and a lot of well staged action to keep horror fans entertained. Slade has a nice visual style to accent this comic based tale and makes good used of the contrast of the white reflective snow and dark night to create enough light for us to see the action clearly, yet enough areas of shadow for our vampires to lurk within. The film has it’s flaws, too, such as the vamps’ human drone (Ben Foster) who is annoying instead of scary and that keeps us from getting properly spooked before the vamps arrive. Given the film takes place over 30 days, the characters don’t seem to be as disheveled enough to have been going without hygiene or proper food for a month. The film does give us plenty to have fun with, so we can overlook some of this and suspend our disbelief to enjoy the bloody proceedings. There is also the added bonus of Melissa George looking hot even in a parka. Crack a beer and enjoy! 30 Days Of Night is based on Steve Niles comic book and also features Sons Of Anarchy’s Mark Boone Junior.
A solid 3 fangs
JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES (1998)
John Carpenter’s vampire western is based loosely on a book by John Steakley and having read the book, I think this is one of the few times I like the movie better. This fun, gory flick tells the story of a team of Vatican funded vampire hunters led by veteran slayer, Jack Crow (James Woods), who inadvertently cross paths with the first and most powerful master vampire, an ex-preist named Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith). Valek seeks to finish the ceremony that accidentally changed him into a monster and become a vampire who can walk in the sun. He needs only the Black Cross of Béziers from the original ritual to do it. Crow and what’s left of his team, after a vicious hotel ambush by Valek, have to stop him from obtaining it. Unwillingly along for the ride is hooker, Katrina, (Sheryl Lee) who was bitten by Valek in the hotel attack and now, as she slowly changes into one of his creatures, has a link with the master vampire. Rounding out the team is a young and naive priest, Father Adam (Tim Guinee).
Vampires is a lot of fun as we get to see vampires portrayed as vicious hungry monsters and the added western slant gives it a bit of a novel twist. Carpenter seems to be having a little fun this time after the by-the-numbers Escape From L.A. and this action packed and bloody horror flick shows it. James Woods is also having a blast as the tough-as-nails veteran vampire killer, Crow and Daniel Baldwin is enjoyable as his faithful second in command, Montoya, who falls in love with Katrina despite her slowly becoming one of the undead. As master vampire Valek, martial artist Thomas Ian Griffith oozes a lot of menace and yet maintains an air of being a sexual predator as well, dashing and highly dangerous at the same time. The action scenes are bloody and a lot of fun as Crow and his team use everything from guns, crossbows, spears and stakes to take out the undead. The FX portraying the vampires’ carnage and their fiery demise when dragged in the sun are all quite good on the modest budget. The film has some flaws, but Carpenter moves things very quickly and his visual style always has our attention, especially the absolutely chilling scene of Valek and his army rising from their slumber beneath the ground to greet the dusk and launch their assault on a desert monastery. Really cool stuff! Once again Carpenter delivers a really memorable score to accent his western themed vampire flick and it suits the film perfectly.
A really fun and underrated entry in Carpenter’s filmography and maybe the last film, so far, that shows the master filmmaker still has the magic that made the films in his earlier career such classics! Also stars Sons Of Anarchy’s Mark Boone Junior in a role as one of Crow’s veteran vampire hunters and Maximillian Schell as the Cardinal that Crow and his team report to.
3 and 1/2 fangs