It took some time getting to this point, but the ever-expanding world Steve Niles created in 2002 with the comic book series "30 Days of Night" is beginning to climb off the page, out of the coffin, so to speak, and into a fruitful (undead) life in cinema.
Five years after the vampires of Niles' three-part story ran amok in the small town of Barrow, Alaska, director David Slade and Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures brought 30 Days of Night to the big screen. Distinct in look and bloody as hell, the adaptation - as it had played out in the graphic novel - offered a sense of closure but left a door open to explore the life of Barrow widow Stella Olemaun (played by Melissa George). Two years later, Ghost House went back behind the camera for 30 Days of Night: Dark Days based, once again, on the Niles graphic novel of the same name.
"It started at Sony," explained producer J.R. Young, who spoke to Shock Till You Drop exclusively about the project which recently wrapped in Vancouver. "They were up for it and we were into the idea as well. There was enough of a positive response to the first film to get a second one going."
Young is a Ghost House family member who began as Raimi's assistant and went on to produce The Messengers and the direct-to-DVD sequels Messengers 2, Boogeyman 2 and The Grudge 3. He's just one of the key players on the project who have moved up the ranks at Ghost House. In the director's chair is Ben Ketai, a familiar face in the 30 Days of Night universe in that he wrote and directed the 30 Days of Night: Blood Trails and 30 Days of Night: Dust to Dust, both of which premiered on the web.
"Ben really proved himself as the best guy for the job," said Young. "We'd seen him do a number of short films which led him to directing the first web series which was a spin-off from the graphic novel. One of the storylines in the graphic novel that didn't fit in the first feature. We were thrilled with what he did with that and he believed strongly in the 30 Days of Night universe. When Stage 6 Films approached us about wanting to get into this. Ben hooked up with Steve Niles to pitch a story."
The pair ultimately fleshed out the graphic novel. This time, Stella, attempting to draw the vampire underworld into the public spotlight with humiliating results, takes her fight to Los Angeles where she'll go face to face with the head bloodsucker responsible for the Barrow attack.
Young explained, "I think the second film definitely stays within the world of the first film and it stays true to the second graphic novel in the series for those fans out there. The story is within that world but there are differences and a lot of that is due to the graphic novel. The first film is very much a survival film and this next one is all about revenge. There's an action component. The last one is a western, this one is more of a war movie. It's taking the battle to the vampires."
Fans should also expect a change in their leading lady. Out is Melissa George and in is A Perfect Getaway's Kiele Sanchez as Stella. "We made our best efforts to get Melissa back and at a certain point, it was just apparent - for numerous reasons - it wasn't going to work out. So, we had been auditioning different actresses in the event that happened and Kiele really rose to the top of those auditions. She really had the strength and vulnerability one needed to take on this role. She really stepped up and I think fans will be excited by what they see."
Joining Sanchez in her war is Diora Baird (Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning) and Harold Perrineau (28 Weeks Later, Lost).
Presently, Ketai is in the editor's room working on his director's cut, said Young. When he's finished, the Ghost House team - including Raimi, who has actively been involved with the sequel - will share their thoughts and work towards a final cut.
"We haven't been given a release date yet. We have a post schedule as to when we want to have the film done by. Then it goes into the studio's hands and they'll figure out when the best date will be. There has been talk about a DVD release. We always work toward to make the best film we can and let it go out where they see fit."
The 30 Days of Night: Dark Days interviews don't stop here. Grab an axe, find a place to hide from the vamps and keep watching Shock Till You Drop for more on the sequel in the near future.
Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor