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Second Bite

22 Jul, 2010 By: Angelique Flores

30 Days of Night: Dark Days

Director and screenwriter Ben Ketai was no stranger to the “30 Days of Night” vampire franchise when he was tapped to direct the film’s sequel, Dark Days. He had already written the spin-off Web series “Blood Trails” and “Dust to Dust,” the former of which he also produced and the latter of which he also directed.

30 Days of Night: Dark Days will be available Oct. 5 on DVD ($24.96) and as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo ($30.95) from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Dark Days is based on the second book in the graphic novel series “30 Days of Night,” created by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith. The direct-to-video film sequel picks up where the first film left off, this time set in Los Angeles. Stella Oleson (Kiele Sanchez of A Perfect Getaway and “Lost”) is dealing with her traumatic experience in Barrow, Alaska, where the citizens were decimated by vampires. Instead of trying to survive, this time she’s trying to get revenge and prevent the vampires from killing more, with the help of three other vampire hunters.

This sort of heroic quest, not to mention the dark look and a strong female lead, at times feels like an action film in the “Terminator” and “Aliens” mold rather than a horror film. Though that may not have been deliberate, it comes as no surprise to a director who loves those two film franchises.

Terminator 2 has always been my favorite action film,” Ketai says.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of blood and gore, biting, a big body count, and vampire slaying in this horror flick.
What Ketai, in his first outing as a feature-film director, wanted to stay away from, however, was making a typical horror movie with the usual scream queens.

“I think that when a movie is coming out [first] on DVD, there’s the expectation for it to feel cheap and recycled,” says Ketai, who opted for creating a strong cast and storyline with some depth.

Ketai, who co-wrote the screenplay with the creator Niles, says they kept the beginning and the end true to the graphic novel with some license taken in between.

“Stella’s journey remains the same,” Ketai assures.

In addition to Stella’s character transformation from a victim to a hero, there was also a casting change. Melissa George, who starred as Stella in the first film, didn’t return for the sequel due to scheduling conflicts. Because Stella becomes a very different character between the two movies, Ketai says, the casting change felt natural.

And if you’re wondering what happened to the original film’s director, David Slade, he was in Vancouver at the same time Ketai and his crew were there, shooting another vampire movie: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

The DVD and Blu-ray Disc will have the featurette “Vampires Exist: The Gritty Realism of Dark Days.” Extras exclusive to the Blu-ray are an interactive feature, “Comic to Film,” which gives a side-by-side comparison of the graphic novel and certain scenes in the film.

Ketai, Niles, Sanchez, along with the other stars Diora Baird, Rhys Coiro and J.R. Young, will be at Comic-Con July 23 for a sneak peek of the film and a Q&A session.

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