Not only did the original 30 Days Of Night – based on a Steve Niles comic – get a full-length sequel, but in between the two films, there were two “mini-series” on FEARnet. Combined, they only run an hour long, so it would be nice if they got released on DVD together so I could complete my collection. Yep, I’m a fan of this vicious vamp franchise. So how exactly do the films work as a whole?
30 DAYS OF NIGHT (2007)
The first film, directed by David Slade (Hard Candy, Twilight: Eclipse) has an absolutely bone-chilling setting and horrifying vampires. It’s kind of like The Thing meets Salem’s Lot as an icy Alaskan town braces for its annual month-long period of night…and gets invaded by a horde of monstrous vampires as soon as daylight is done. These are possibly my favorite film vamps ever, followed only by the ones in Stake Land, which came out a few years later (not to mention, those vamps are sort of an even more intense version of these vamps).
Josh Hartnett is the local sheriff, Melissa George is his wife, and along with a small group, they survive night 1, when the vampires wipe out virtually the entire town. These fantastically freaky vamps speak a heinous sounding “language” (that is subtitled), and they have absolutely no humanity. They yank people into the darkness right before your very eyes. They lie to you, play with your emotions, set up traps to lure you out of hiding, and savagely mutilate you.
The group attempts to pull an Anne Frank for a number of nights, but of course they make stupid mistakes. The concept of being stuck in endless darkness with vampires prowling every house looking for you is truly terrifying—but it’s hard to understand why the vamps bother to hang around when they were total gluttons the first night. I mean, these fuckers are going to starve trying to stay all 30 nights, even if they do find the few victims that remain.
Eventually, the survivors figure out a way to fight back, and Hartnett makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the others – he gets into a boss battle with the terrifying lead vampire!
30 DAYS OF NIGHT: BLOOD TRAILS (2007)
A pretty pointless prequel to the first film, Blood Trails still manages to capture the same vibe, and is all about the grit and gore. Set two days before the incident in Alaska, it has a small group of vampire hunters in Louisiana trying to crack a code that will expose the truth of the vampires’ next move.
That’s the last thing the vamps want, so they hunt down the hunters one by one.
The big reveal at the end is the twist that ties this short to the full-length film and is supposed to make you all “Oh, cool!” It really doesn’t. But Blood Trails is definitely good for some cheap thrills. At the time of this posting, it was available to watch in 7 parts here.
30 DAYS OF NIGHT: DUST TO DUST (2008)
This second short film is pretty much another pointless spinoff, and this time, it’s a complete stand-alone, even though it takes place 3 weeks after the events of the first film.
A shirtless hottie in prison turns out to be a vampire hunter incarcerated for chopping off heads of victims. He’s hoping being in jail will keep him safe from vamps, but things go horribly wrong when he’s being moved to maximum security. Vampires attack, a prison nurse is bitten, and then she slowly begins to morph into a violent blood sucker.
Another gory, short installment, this one scores appearances by Ted Raimi as a prison guard, and Shawnee Smith and Ken Foree as vampire hunters that team up with the escaped prisoner to find the bitten nurse.
Dust to Dust definitely works because it’s independent of the other films. At the time of this post, it is available to watch on vimeo.
30 DAYS OF NIGHT: DARK DAYS (2010)
Ben Katai, who directed Dust to Dust, offers up a full-length that is a direct sequel to the first film. While it focuses on the Melissa George character, she doesn’t return for the role, which really fucks up the feeling of continuity.
This chick could be anyone who had an encounter with vampires and is now on a speaking tour trying to convince people that the legend is real.
One group of vampire hunters believers her, so she joins up with them and they spend most of the time – fully armed – in a warehouse looking for the “queen” vamp that needs to be destroyed to stop all the other vampires. This queen vamp is very Elizabeth Bathory.
The suspense and feeling of dread the first film delivered are totally gone, leaving us with a fast-paced, vampire action film that’s really nothing special.
It’s entertainingly cheesy, with cool vamps, cool gore effects, a sex scene, and the main girl turning into a tough bitch to take on the vampire queen alone at the end, but it’s not surprising that a third film was never made to round this out into a trilogy.