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30 Days of Night (DVD)

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30 Days of Night DVD (click for larger image)Reviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Josh Hartnett, Craig Hall, Melissa George, Ben Foster

Directed by David Slade

Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


With most of 2007 sucking as badly as it did, things were looking pretty bleak for this reviewer. So bleak in fact that I went on record as saying, “If 30 Days of Night and The Mist suck, I am hanging it up.” Well, I’m still here so I guess things ended up going OK. There’s no doubt the big screen adaptation of Steve Niles’ epic graphic novel 30 Days of Night helped to send last year out on a high note, but as far as I am concerned, there were some very annoying bumps along the way on the road to salvation. Let’s start from the beginning for those of you who have no idea the basic premise behind this toothy bloodbath.

In the small Alaskan town of Barrow, things are not always sunshine and roses for its residents. Especially one month out of the year in which the sun doesn’t rise at all. Sheriff Eben Oleson (Hartnett) was working out the last few details of his usual duties before this epic event. Most of Barrow’s population was leaving, and that meant closing up shop and settling in for the lawman and his remaining townsfolk. Even Eben’s newly estranged wife (George) was splitting, but as luck would have it, she missed her ride to the airport. Time to head home and face the music. But this month would bring more than just the tune of lost love for our duo. A group of vampires have other plans. Since there’s no chance of sunlight, our fanged fiends decide to run amok on Barrow’s streets and literally bleed the town dry. Can Eben help his community survive the month? Hell, can he even keep himself alive?

30 Days of Night DVD (click for larger image)30 Days of Night plays as if it were a super violent roller-coaster ride that wants to travel at a relentless pace. For the most part it succeeds, but it nearly becomes derailed. Truth be told, there are a lot of hindrances, the most glaring being that other than the length of Hartnett’s beard, you never really get the feeling that any time has passed at all. This is coupled with the fact that the vampires who should very well be out doing cartwheels through the streets never really do enough to seek out our remaining victims. There where times when I couldn’t help but wonder “Where the hell are they?” These are supernatural beings who have lived thousands of years, but they cannot find five people holed up in an attic, despite them even landing on the very roof that separates them from their cattle by inches? That just didn’t work for me. Speaking of not working …

I can forgive the abovementioned problems as the positives in this flick way out weigh the negatives, but 30 Days of Night commits one sin that for the life of me I cannot give it a reprieve for: utilizing the god damned shaky-cam technique during the attack sequences. Every single time the vamps attacked, you know the moments that should be the most thrilling, the camera moves around as if its operator has yielded to an epileptic fit. To make matters even worse, it’s WETA who provided the film with its effects. You may know their name from a series of small films called The Lord of the Rings. Ponder that if you will. You’ve got one of the world’s best F/X houses supplying you with your intense carnage scenes, and you have to really strain to see what’s going on because the director wanted to further convey the message of freneticism by shaking the camera. There used to be a time when switching to a hand held seemed daring. Now it seems as if holding the camera still is even more ballsy. Why can’t we just see clearly what’s going on? Is that too much to ask? Every time this happened, I was taken directly out of the film as it totally took away from what could have been one of the most memorable movies of the year.

30 Days of Night DVD (click for larger image)On the brighter side, the supplemental material included here is quite good. Things kick off with a very lively commentary with Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, and producer Rob Tapert. Listening to this trio, you can really tell how proud they are of this movie, and they should be. For the most part it’s a rock solid effort. I wouldn’t say this is a must-listen, but it’s far from the usual dry commentaries we’ve been getting as of late. Next up there are eight behind-the-scenes featurettes: Pre-Production, Building Barrow, The Look, Blood Guts and the Nasty #@$&!, Stunts, The Vampire, Night Shoots, and Casting. Clocking in at nearly an hour combined, these bits do a great job of showing exactly what an at times arduous task it was bringing this project to the screen while trying to stay true to the source material. Just like the commentary, even though there’s nothing here you really haven’t heard or seen before, these extras do a more than serviceable job of entertaining without boring. Things are then capped off with Episode 1 of the anime series Blood+. Japanese school girls and blood-spurting violence? Count me in!

In the end, 30 Days of Night ends up being nearly the film that we wanted it to be. Though there are some of you out there who will no doubt cry foul pertaining to my complaints, which admittedly except for the shaky-cam thing are a little nit-picky, I cannot help but call it as I see it. Or would have liked to have seen it if someone just could have held the friggin’ camera straight for more than two seconds during the scenes of mayhem.

Special Features

  • Audio commentary with Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, and producer Rob Tapert
  • Eight behind-the-scenes featurettes
  • Blood+ Episode 1

    Film:

    3 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    4 out of 5

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    Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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    We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

    In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

    Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

    If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

    The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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    Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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    Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

    Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


    Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

    17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

    What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

    • Film
    2.0

    Summary

    Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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    IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor

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    Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.

    On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.

    The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.

    While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.

    What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.

    While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.

    • Alive in New Light
    5.0

    Summary

    IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.

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    User Rating 5 (2 votes)
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