For a man who loves all things ghosts you’d assume I love all things vampire also. This is unfortunately a common misconception when I tell people that I love horror and they begin making recommendations of vampire stories and telling me I’ll love them. The truth is there are very very few vampire stories that I actually enjoy because I just feel like vampires have been turned into romantic weaklings that aren’t actually scary. The majority of the time their ‘bloodlust’ in novels is a metaphor for their sexual urges, “I just can’t control myself around you…..” and they seem to have really lost their ferocity and authority that they once held. Dracula and Lestat would have no time for Edward and Bella or Bill/Erik and Sookie. Buffy made vampires a thing to be afraid of again…….in seasons 1 and 2. And then after that her main villain was NEVER a vampire again, and she would kill them effortlessly….sometimes while singing. It just seemed as though people forgot how to make them actual scary monsters. So when I saw the film 30 days of Night I was soooooooo happy. They made them into intelligent, terrifying, vicious killing machines that took no prisoners. And I said “wow these vampires are terrifying!” and then I read the comic and said “no THESE vampires are terrifying”. It was a refreshing take on the vampire genre that has effectively become as lukewarm as Bella’s love for Jacob (why did these books ever have to exist). It solidified itself as one of my favourite vampire stories, and here’s why:
The Main Character
Who better to protect you then the fearless Sheriff who has an established authority within the town!? Even his wife is a police officer, he’s lived a thousand winters up here in Barrow, Alaska and he has an entire gun collection at his disposal. It’s just too bad that he guns do nothing and he proves to be just as useless as every other human in the story. Watching the story through Eben’s eyes makes the reader realize just how terrifying these creatures are. His only direct encounter (before the climax) results in him continuously blasting away at a vampire, only to have it beat him down easily. He manages to escapes but deflates the survivors as they realize their only real weapon – Eben – is as useless as a child against them. He is a man who’s always lead and helped the town survive, and now he’s facing a situation where he can’t lead and can’t help them survive. Even though the comic is a quick 1 hour read you really see the roller coaster of emotion he embarks on. To have his lifelong position challenged and the obstacles he has to come to overcome it. In the end when he finally makes a decision to sacrifice himself for the town you are cheering him on like a superhero because you see a man at his breaking point overcome his demons in an incredibly heroic (and badass) way.
The vampires here were everything vampires should be. The two leaders, Marlow and Vicente, were very different leaders but both were terrifying in their own way. Marlow was the wild card, cruel, blood thirsty lover of chaos. Vicente was the cold, calculated, unfeeling tyrant who had no reservations about killing vampires and humans alike. The vampires themselves took no prisoners at all. I MEAN IT! Eben goes on to describe how they were pulling entire families, children included, from their homes and feeding on them. They weren’t quick deaths either as they often made family members watch and they gave them some feelings of hope of escaping before capturing them again with ease. When Eben faces off against one of the regular vampires – not even Marlow or Vicente – he can’t kill him and nearly gets killed in the encounter. So when those guys are able to thwart humans with ease you can imagine just how powerful the leaders are. The entire motivation was bloodlust, there wasn’t some clever calculated plan here. They simply wanted to destroy an entire town and feed without interruption for 30 days. There’s something terrifying in a long-drawn out plan of horror, but there’s something more terrifying about chaos and a group that, as Michael Caine put it “just want to watch the world burn.”
I know I’ve gone on at great lengths about how terrifying the vampire invasion was, and believe me it really was. But I feel like for the actual horror aspect it’s necessary to touch on the very beginning of the book. I mean yes the viciousness of the vampires in the middle of the book is probably the scariest scene when you’re reading it, but the beginning makes you feel truly isolated and that perhaps is one of the scarier parts of the book. The opening of the story finds Eben and his wife called to a spot where all of the telephones in town (cell phones included) are in a burnt pile in a ditch. They chaulk it up to a teenage prank but as I can attest to first hand, being without your phone in this age is terrifying enough. Earlier this week I forgot my phone at home and literally felt disconnected from the world for the entire day. That being said, after the phones are dead the vampires murder the only man in town who knew how to operate the power generator and then burn it to the ground. This leaves the town, which was already facing 30 nights without sunlight, in complete and total darkness. The thought of being cut off from the world, no internet, no phone and no power while a group of psychopathic vampires are hunting humans outside your door, is one that I find frankly terrifying. It doesn’t even need to be vampires, just being in that scenario is terrifying enough without a group of killers outside. You feel just as isolated as the characters in this novel, and the fact that I read it in the heart of winter didn’t help anything.
The Film Adaptation
Now normally I’m not always a fan of the movies changing a characters backstory unnecessarily, altering relationships and adding in scenes that never happened in the book. However I found that it was necessary for this comic after I finished reading it. It took me almost no time to read it at all, and really if you did a direct adaptation it would be an hour long tv show with commercials. For a full length feature you needed to draw certain things out, add some subplot and have a few more vampire attack scenes. In the end I think the adaptation was pretty flawless and captured the viciousness of the vampires. I understand why they didn’t capture their identical portrayal as I don’t think it would’ve been picked up by a studio if they showed vampires murdering children. However the makeup was perfect as it didn’t just have blood on the mouth for the vampires like you’d see in True Blood or Buffy. Rather they were covered, literally covered in blood, from murdering the people. It was messy, they had specks of blood all over their face, hair and hands and it showed you just how vicious they really were. Kosh Hartnet was a fine choice for Eben, you really saw him capture the man defeated portrayal that Eben had in the comics. The other acting choices were fine because the rest of the characters didn’t have much depth so you could’ve cast anyone as the towns people. Overall it was one of the better adaptations from the books on this list.
If you loved Twilight, then stay away from this book. And from me for that matter because that book is garbage and you’re a terrible person for reading them. If you hated Twilight for what it did to vampires then please please PLEASE read this comic. It’ll make you realize just how terrifying and badass vampires can be. If you love horror then you’ll love this comic, and if you scare easy then you’ll definitely get scared in this one. But it is definitely highly recommended!
I only have 2 books left! Then my book challenge is over and I can begin reading some new horror titles from 2015 and 2016…..and I can finally read my Young Adult Rick Riordan book that I wasn’t able to finish when I had it out from the library. I just have Amityville Horror and Dracula left. I’ve decided to go with the most notorious ghost story of all time and read The Amityville Horror before jumping into the classic that is Dracula. Wish me luck!