Author: Shane Dayton
The movie "30 Days of Night" showed vampires in a very unusual light, one that is certainly uncommon at least among movies of vampires, which are often celebrated for being sensual, as well as terrifying. Vampires in a pack formation is very unusual for a vampire movie, especially modern ones. As far as having an actual "pack" of vampires, there are only two other recent movies that give a good comparison to "30 Days," which are "John Carpenter's Vampires" and "From Dusk Till Dawn."
The dignity and class really set these citizens of the night apart from most monster counterparts, but that dignity doesn't exist in "30 Days," as the vampires are almost like the way a traditional pack of werewolves work, and far less human than most other interpretations.
This allows an interesting comparison between the three movies. The pack of vampires in "30 Days" is definitely an aggressive and vicious predatory pack, while "Vampires" has a more traditional "pack" of vampires. There is a definite leader, and vampires falling in behind as a group, but each individual has human level intelligence. In the movie "From Dusk Till Dawn," they look like they are half way between "Vampires" and between "30 Days," but even in "From Dusk Till Dawn" they don't seem to be much of an organized group so much as individuals all doing their own thing.
So which group of vampires is scarier? That's hard to say and maybe depends on what scares you the most. Are you more afraid of the conscious group of these monsters who at least appear human in basic actions and thought and thus can reason and outwit you? Or does the sheer savagery of the "30 Days of Night" pack hit you as a far worse and scarier?
In John Carpenter's "Vampires," the vampire is Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith), who is the intelligent and resourceful leader of a brood of vampires who used one colony as a distraction to lure the vampire hunters out, then came out at night and took out the entire group. These vampires are smart and appear like more traditional vampires: human like and intelligent with superhuman strength.
In the movie "30 Days of Night," the vampires are led by Marlow (Danny Huston), the lead vampire of the pack who speaks an ancient language. The rest are like a pack of wild animals, but animals with a very high intelligence, as they even use survivors for bait. This adds a definite shock value, but there seems to be evidence that a smart person who survives the initial onslaught could hide. These vampires seem more vicious, but less supernatural.
In the movie "From Dusk Till Dawn," there is somewhat of a pack mentality, and a "queen vampire," but even then they don't seem like an organized pack, but just a large group of individuals who are all going ballistic in the same small area. The being trapped is what makes the terror in this movie work best, but these seem to be the least frightening vampires of all three groups.
So which pack of vampires is more frightening? Is it the one that seems to have conscious thought and intelligence among every single one of its members, or is it the one that acts like a pack of the most savage predators in world history? Or is it half way, with a brutal chaotic group inside a closed space?
It's an interesting debate, and one that I think will help reinvigorate interest in a group of monsters who were in anger of becoming stale.