Saturday, February 23, 2008

30 Days of Night: Inside the Creative Mind of Steve Niles

By now most of you will have either read Steve Niles' graphic horror novels '30 Days of Night' or you may have seen the big budget vampire horror film adaptation of the same name. Either way, the fact remains, Niles has put a new spin on the vampire movie genre. And it's about time!

All is not what it seems when it comes to the film adaptation. Bizarrely, like any big film studio, sometimes the original graphic novel storyline doesn't make it in full to the final big screen adaptation.

Before the movie came out in the UK last November, I wasn't aware of who Steve Niles was or his 30 Days of Night graphic novels. Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spiderman) spent several years trying to get 30 Days greenlighted into a big budget vampire horror flick, but it wasn't until he had success with the Spiderman movies, when 30 Days finally made the jump from a jumped up comic book to a big budget horror movie (with a twist).

I got into the 30 Days experience the other way around, whereby I saw the movie first, before I read the first 30 Days graphic novel. The movie was intriguing, but I was convinced the Hollywood studio diluted Niles' original vision that he shared in his first 30 Days graphic novel. I decided to get my hands on a copy of the first book which featured fantastic, if not, disturbing illustrations by Perth-based graphic illustrator, Ben Templesmith.

The novel knocked me for six. It was both intelligent, very direct, imaginative, haunting and psychologically disturbiing (but in a good rock'n'roll kind of way). Once I read the book and digested Templesmith's eye candy, everything fell into place.

I then realised that there were several subplots within the first novel that never made it to the movie adaptation. Strage because it was Niles who ended up writing the screenplay for the movie. After I read the first book, I got the impression that Niles had to compromise about what he could include in the movie and what he could not.

What is missinig from the movie is the back story about Judith the vampire hunter who is based in New Orleans. She knows that vampires from around the world are communicating with each other over the Internet, to all meet up somewhere on the planet to participate in a massive feeding frenzy. Judith almost pieces the clues together and thinks the Vampires will be meeting up in her native New Orleans, but inevitably she is duped, and the Vampires end up targeting a small town in the Northern most part of Alaska (Barrrow).

Every December, the town of Barrow doesn't get sunlight for a month. The Vampires do their homework and that's where they converge for the feed. But once it happens, it's too late for Judith to stop it. The Vampires have tricked her and they work the con to their advantage. But in the movie, you have no idea who the Vampires are or where they come from. The studio thought it would be too complicated to include the back story about Judith the vampire hunter.

Interestingly, I have just discovered that the UK distributor for the DVD release of 30 Days of Night, Icon Home Entertainment, are planning on releasing the movie as a 2-Disc Special Edition DVD, and it will also be released on Blu-ray (apparently HD DVD is R.I.P.).

But that's not all. In America last year a couple of US horror movie websites were streaming "30 Days of Night: Blood Trails" - seven episodes of live action film sequences that tell the back story of Judith the vampire hunter. Icon Home Entertainment will be releasing Blood Trails in the UK as a separate DVD for £4.99 ($10.00 US dollars), and this will be sold alongside the DVD and Blu-Ray release of the 30 Days of Night movie. Release date in the UK is Monday 14th April

But getting back to Steve Niles. Currently in the US, he is experiencing even more success wiith his current graphic novel series "Simon Dark". This is a compelling story about a teenage Frankenstein type loner who is comprised of numerous body parts. He can't remember his name or who his parents are.

But here's the catch - he lives in Gotham City. Simon Dark is the first officially commissioned Gotham City character that has been given his own graphicn novel series who isn't Batman or Robin. This could be the start of a new spin-off trend, and if anyone can make it convincing, it's probably Steve Niles

UK DVD Press Release of 30 Days DVD and Blood Trails -

The Official Steve Niles Website -

The Official Ben Templesmith Website -

One more note to add - Danny Huston is outstanding as the sinister lead vampire 'Marlow'. If you loved John Carpenter's The Thing and the innovative vampire flick 'Near Dark', then '30 Days of Night' will be right up your street.

'30 Days of Night' will literally take your head off.