30 Days of Night and the Development of Vampire Symbolism

By John W. Morehead of TheoFantastique

30 DAYS OF NIGHT, the popular graphic novel by Steve Niles, now a motion picture available on DVD, may include an30 Days of Night Movie Poster interesting development in the vampire mythologic constructed in response to concerns over recent depictions of the icon as well as the increasing popularity of the zombie. In a blog post titled “30 DAYS OF NIGHT and the Oppositional Reconstruction of Vampire Symbolism,” I discuss this thesis:

As horror movie fans and culture watchers know, the vampire has a long history of popularity in film and pop culture, so much so that the vampire has enjoyed great dominance as a horror figure in any number of pop cultural expressions. But the cultural dominance of the vampire has given way in recent years to that of the zombie. Zombie films have been made with increasing frequency, and this may have resulted in the impression by some that the vampire may have lost some of its “edge” as a social and cultural symbol of horror. It appears to this writer that those associated with the cinematic treatment of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT (perhaps those associated with the graphic novel as well) have made a conscious effort to address this phenomenon through the reconstruction of the vampire as a figure that moves far beyond its expressions in the past as a romantic, brooding, and at times comical figure to a fresh embodiment of evil, perhaps a figure reconstructed through this film as a form of opposition to the zombie.
The visual look, physical abilities, and social characteristics of the vampires in the film also seem to support the notion of the reconstruction of the vampire icon in oppositional fashion. The creatures move beyond the traditional enlarged canines to sport a mouthful of sharp teeth that function in razor-like fashion as they attack their victims. In their physical abilities the vampires not only have great strength, but also great agility as they leap from building to building and descend upon their fleeing victims. As to their social characteristics, the vampires have their own unique language that moves them beyond their traditional mythological function as lone hunters to bind them together as a social unity creating a viscious tribe that rules the night. All of these elements work together to provide the vampires in the film with the elements necessary to make them far more terrifying than many vampires in recent television and film treatments, and in the process they also contribute to the reconstruction of the vampire icon with features that make them more terrifying than the zombie.

Read the complete development of this idea in the post at TheoFantastique.
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