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English director David Slade started his career with a bang at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and the success of his acclaimed feature, Hard Candy. In his second motion picture, 30 Days of Night, Slade has chosen to delve into another side of fear and in the process has reinvented the image of the vampire. By R. Cowan.

Were you familiar with the graphic novel?
Yes, I bought the first edition of the graphic novel ď30 Days of NightĒ in 2001. I really thought the story was great. But then I carried on with my life and went on to direct Hard Candy. Just before I finished Hard Candy, I went to a meeting at Sony and they mentioned 30 Days of Night. So I expressed interest in this project. After the success of Hard Candy I got a call from Sam Raimi and I was brought on board.

Are you a fan of horror movies?
Iím a fan of cinema more than horror movies. I think for me, all movies are first dramas and then they fall into different categories to help the studios market them. A few years ago there were films that considered themselves as horror such as Scream but they were just winking at the horror fans. I didnít want to make this type of horror film. I wanted to do something dark and visceral. I look at films like Donít Look Now from Nicolas Roeg as horror movies. Also, I love The Shining from Stanley Kubrick or John Carpenterís The Thing. These are my references. I also love Japanese horror.

In this film it seems like you went for a very serious tone.
Yes, we really wanted to take the genre seriously and be totally realistic. We wanted to make it very unsafe so the audience would dive into the horror that the characters are going through. You really go down to hell with each of them. Also, it was interesting because we shot in New Zealand and we got lucky to get some incredibly creepy locations. Shooting at night added a layer of horror as well. I wanted the movie to be very raw and unsettling; a movie where youíre as tired as I was when I was shooting it.

What are vampires?

Well, itís a cultural creation. There are some people who are truly mad who believe vampires are powerful. To me, they are a great symbol in regards to the nature of humanity; we love to romanticise things. As a background we believe that they have been around for a long time and they have witnessed all the horrible things that men are capable of, therefore they end up being totally disgusted by men and they have no remorse to hunt them for food.

Describe the vampires in 30 Days of Night?
They live a very simple existence where itís all about the ďsportĒ of hunting humans. They come to the conclusion that morality is old fashioned and unnecessary. These vampires are not fantasies and they are not romantic. They donít make love. They are a pack of hunters; they are primal. There was no room for romance in this movie and itís not scary if you have some vampires trying to flirt with human beings. Our film is scary and this is what I wanted. These vampires are smart because they are hiding behind the myth and the folklore of vampires. This way people donít suspect a thing and they can hit even harder at humans when they want to. It was great to re-invent the way they look and behave. I really had so much freedom to play with my own conception of vampires.

What was the greatest challenge for you in adapting a graphic novel to the big screen?
Well, I got lucky with my cast. It was great finding people who really cared about making the best movie possible. The main challenge was to really respect the artwork of the graphic novel and make a movie that truly looks like the books. This was a challenge to get the style and the right photography. On top of this we didnít have a huge budget like the movie 300 so there was a need to be really creative. It was hard to create these vampires and make them look like they were coming out of the pages of the comic book; with their black eyes and sharp teeth. It took a lot of practice to get it right.

Did you enjoy working with Josh Hartnett?
He is fantastic. He is a very conscientious actor and puts lots of work into his craft. I think he showed his range by the diversity of roles he has played. Also, it was interesting to give him another look so people donít recognize him. I think his performance in this film will put him into another league of actors now. It is always interesting to take a beautiful man and turn him into this creature at the end. It was a challenge and very fun to experience.

What do you hope audiences will take away after seeing this film?
Well, I hope it makes them think, but Iím not going to tell them what they should think. To each their own vision and understanding about what this movie is about. For me, on a personal level, it is one more way to look at the human condition and how we behave as a society. Itís about human paranoia. How do we survive in an extreme crisis and how do we face death. These are the things that interested me with this picture.

Published March 13, 2008

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Director David Slade



In Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost town in the United States, the sun sets for 30 consecutive days during winter. This time, as the town shuts down, most of the hundreds of people who stay for the darkness are mysteriously ravaged within minutes. Unseen predators cut off all means of communication and of escape. The small band of people who survive the initial onslaught are led by the young (recently estranged) sheriff couple, Eben (Josh Hartnett) and Stella (Melissa George), in their fight to stay alive until the return of daylightÖ
Australian theatrical release: November 8, 2007
Australian DVD release: March 12, 2008

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