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Discuss this week's Joe Loves Crappy Movies here!

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Love crappy movies but are too ashamed to admit it? Are you a big Rob Schneider fan but you're tired of being burned? Not sure if you want to waste your money on the same old movie? That's why you have Joe.

Joe Loves Crappy Movies is by Joseph Dunn. Joe willingly goes to see the very worst that Hollywood has to offer. Whenever a crappy movie comes out Joe will be there to see it, make fun of it, and actually review it. Nothing is safe, and nothing is sacred. From the big budget action disasters to the low brow fart based comedies, to anything starring Martin Lawrence? Joe will tear it apart.

With each entry you'll get not only a comic poking fun at the movie, but also a detailed review. Joe's not educated in film or cinematography or acting, he's just a guy that draws comics and likes movies. So if you're looking for the everyman perspective and a little joke in comic form... you're in the right place.

30 Days of Night

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster

Directed by: David Slade

Columbia Pictures/Ghost House Pictures

The Official Site of 30 Days of Night

Discuss 30 Days of Night on the boards!

In the secluded town of Barrow Alaska there’s a certain time of year where the sun doesn’t shine for 30 days. You knew that right? I mean you might not have known the name or location of a town where there was no sun for extended periods of time, but you were aware that there were such dark patches in existence. You’ve watched Northern Exposure. You’re up to speed. And you know who loves the dark? Vampires love the dark! And you know who loves vampires? Everyone does! So lets write a story!

It’s such an obviously beautiful pairing. Like chocolate and peanut butter or the Fonz and a thumb (I meant that to sound less weird than it does), but as obvious as it is, none of us ever came up with it. So when somebody did, many of us reacted with the same enthusiasm and excitement as those vampires probably did when they were first told of the magical wonderland of the north where they could roam free and cut loose.

It’s obvious, but it’s good too. So good in fact that when Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith printed the first collection of 30 Days of Night through IDW in 2003, people flocked to its original perspective on the classic monsters. The combination of the idea we all should have thought of first and the twisted swipe of Templesmith’s brush where impossible to ignore. It was huge.

Now the idea of vampires running around for 30 days unchecked is cool, but what you don’t realize when going in to this film is what a little freedom will do to them. The monsters we’re used to as mysterious and seductive are now hunting in packs with reckless abandon. With the freedom to walk around at will the vampires become a unified threat. With no sun they turn into smart zombies with sharper teeth.

That’s freaky! And as the film opens you’ll feel that the uneasy tension is constant as you wait for the inevitable threat that nightfall brings. You won’t get comfortable until the vampires get comfortable. From there on out it’s less “jumping out of the shadows” and more “cocky taunting with the occasional extreme bloodletting” just to remind you what kind of movie you’re watching.

These moments of gore are plentiful but I think you’ll be surprised out how little director David Slade (Hard Candy) decided to actually show. A head chop here, a puréed vampire there… but in the torture porn (guh, I hate that term) world we live in, 30 Days is kind of tastefully done. All things considered of course.

The surviving townsfolk are lead by their brave but overwhelmed sheriff Eben Oleson played here by Josh Hartnett. This is a great hero because he’s not really a hero at all. Eben isn’t some professionally trained CIA specialist who decided to move back home and retire after his partner was killed in some senseless war. He’s just some big fish townie that had no idea what he was getting into when the sun went down that day. He’s certainly no vampire-hunter. He doesn’t lop of heads with a half-cocked swing on his axe. He tears into it, full force, with all the energy and double the swings of Paul Bunyan earning his pancake breakfast. And he never gets used to it. Hartnett handles it masterfully.

It’s hard to watch the movie without drawing comparisons on that critically acclaimed comic that we all should have thought of first. But looking back - The book feels incomplete. You never feel like you’re on a journey with the survivors through the 30 Days of Night, you’re just given little instances that add up to an undefined story with empty characters. This adaptation takes care of that problem in spades. The perfect married couple is given the rift of a crumbling marriage whose origin is neither ignored nor explained beyond need. New characters are tossed into the mix like a kid brother, bad boy loner on the outskirts of town with a pick-up full of bear traps and of course - a sassy pot-smoking granny. That last one is less “white-people-saying-‘fo shizzle’” annoying than it sounds. These characters give Eben some comrades in arms as well as something more to fight for. Not to mention an easy out to have some fun with those fancy UV lamps used to grow marijuana.

Where the movie adds in the occasional character, it also does away with the stuff from the book that just slowed things down. Primarily the unnecessary baggage dealing with the background of the vampires. Why they’ve come to Barrow, how they found it, why other vampires are pissed off about it… stuff like that. All really interesting background but wisely cut for the film.

As much fun as understanding the journey of the villain is, it’s far more valuable that we fear them the same way the towns people of Barrow do. These Alaskans don’t know who or what the hell these things are and neither should we. It makes the blind attack that much more devastating.

The big victim of this clipping is the notion that the vampires like being a myth. How valuable their anonymity is does get some mention in the film but is never stressed the way in it is in the book. That’s fine, I can deal with that. But it leads to one of my favorite moments not making the cut. In the book a big shot vampire spots a helicopter photographing the slaughter of Barrow high in the sky, something that would surely out the vampire community to the world. This supreme bad ass leaps 200 feet in the air and brings the bird down with him. It’s an awesome display of power that I was looking forward to and regretted not getting.

The most welcome piece of adaptation was in Ben Foster who is making a name for himself as the actor turning in incredible performances in genre pictures with numbers in them. (He owns 3:10 to Yuma). In 30 Days Foster plays the stranger, famously known in the comics as Eben’s first real contact with the undead. Don’t get too disappointed but – he’s un-undead. I mean alive? Whatever. He’s not a vampire

It’s cool though because he still serves his purpose, brilliantly setting the dark and ominous tone early with a lot of style and charm. A surprising amount actually considering it looks like he’d been chewing charcoal just before shooting started.

The truest success in the films adaptation is in the interpretation of Templesmith’s wildly chaotic illustrations. The bold contrast, color palate, wet blood, pink-stained snow, and stark black of night are all there, but the real treat is in the vampires themselves. Even as they slither by in the background their features are prominent enough to make out. Strained eyes filled with darkness, jagged teeth soaked in blood and most impressively the distorted and bent faces just like the beautiful jagged swipe of the artist’s linear work. The make-up department took home some well-earned checks with this film.

The question that plagued me in the book and the film was “What are they even doing there?” Let the vampires play town and just go someplace warmer! Well the short answer for why they’re there is “Oil”, and the movie makes sure you know that oil burns as a flickering flame over a town bathing in fire sets the beautiful backdrop of the movies big showdown.

That showdown might catch you off guard but again, I think it’s just another original idea for a vampire story that actually holds together better on screen than paper. It’s something unexpected that, for all our foresight on the blackout locations on the planet being perfect vacation spots for vampires, we probably wouldn’t have come up with. I know I wouldn’t have.

Rating: 8 out of 10 - 8. A solid 8. I could pick out some holes in it here or there but I was just so impressed with the adaptation that I’d really rather not. This is an original and exciting adventure that had me quivering in fear and smiling in delight at the same time.

I implore you to check out this movie. If only so that sequels will be made. Niles (with and without Templesmith) has gone on to further define the world of 30 Days of Night interweaving old characters and introducing new ones. I tore through a copy of the third book in the series Return to Barrow, which introduces relatives of the dead that come to Barrow to confront the truth and a whole lot more.

It was a fantastic read but could use the same treatment of evolution and development that the first book did. This could be a killer series (hehehe) if they treat it with the same care as this first film. Unfortunately the franchise just screams, “direct-to-video-sequels”. So get out there and see this thing so Hollywood will be convinced to throw just as much money at the next one!

Here’s a quick link to Amazon’s search result for 30 Days of Night. There’s some good prices in there too.

Usually I’ll turn my back on a horror movie (once I know where the jumps are – the thrill is gone) but this walks the line of horror and action very well in the closing third. And the fact that it’s a comic adaptation doesn’t hurt. What can I say? I’m a huge nerd. That aside I would recommend this to any vampire enthusiasts, and I know there are plenty of you. This is a really strong, original look at the culture of everyone’s favorite sexy monsters. It would be a fitting addition to any purist’s collection.

We’ve been talking about this Green Lantern movie nonsense for the past week or so on the boards. Plenty of time has been spent speculating what would be the right way to go character wise, and why it hasn’t been made yet. We’re full on geeking out over it. I’m not a huge fan or anything but I’d still love to see a Lantern movie made. As long as they do it right. It’s tough though because it’s a big movie to make. Lots of visuals with a character that people recognize but they’re not sure why. And those that do know why don’t want to admit it because his magic power is jewellery. He’s not a sure thing like Batman or Spider-man, and it would be just as expensive to make.

The worst thing for the character would be if he were saddled with a budget that couldn’t really cover the scope of his great cosmic adventures. Whether the money is there or not, Green Lantern will eventually have his day in the sun. But I bet we see another Blade movie first.

Untraceable The setting of Diane Lane’s new thriller is murder… ON LINE! There’s a web site where you can see someone dying, and you logging onto it actually contributes to his death. Curiosity gets the better of the world and people flock to the site killing one victim in 20 minutes. It seems like a nice movie about our morbid curiosities, which is all fine and dandy until Lane becomes the next target!

It looks like some good hi-tech fun and Colin Hanks is in there, so that’s cool, but I admit I’m more interested to see if Lane can make the leap into this main stream genre that is very different from the movies that made her famous. I love Must Love Dogs as much as the next guy but 9 times out of 10 I’ll take a sharp thriller over a romantic comedy. Can her appeal translate over? I hope so.

I don’t remember what the site’s URL is but I haven’t visited it yet. Probably never will. I’m such a sucker for stuff like that. I’ve still never been to feardotcom.

Oh… I was at SPX this past weekend. I’d love to write something but that midnight screening and the past few hours of reviewin’ are weighing on my eyes. I’ll fluff up this section at work tomorrow. I’m coming pillow!

Live Journal/Myspace/Rotten Tomatoes/Buzz Comix/Top Web Comics/Comics on the Ipod/The Webcomics List/Online Comics/Wikipedia/Comixpedia/JLCM Map!

Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - The Introduction

Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.

First Appearance - Fever Pitch

Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.

First Appearance - V for Vendetta

Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison

Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.

First Appearance - 300

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe

Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.

First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet

Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.

First Appearance - Four Brothers

Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.

First Appearance - Ultraviolet

Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.

First Appearance - The Producers

Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!

Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?

First Appearance - Saw IV

Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V