With 30 Days of Night, a graphic novel-inspired thriller that has vampires chomping through the Arctic darkness of a small Alaskan town, director David Slade makes a formidable foray into the cinema mainstream with but one independent feature under his belt. Having directed a long string of commercials and music videos, Slade premiered his first full-length movie, Hard Candy, at Sundance in 2005. The film quickly gained a cult following, which must have included producers Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, who asked Slade to direct their innovative vampire flick. “David has a style and a way of working unique unto him,” says Tapert. “He is a believer in lots of tight shots, close-ups with attention to details, which frenetically ramp up his movie.”

A longtime fan of the graphic novel, Slade was more than eager to accept the project, saying in a preliminary meeting “I would chew off my arm to do that!” Similarly, rabid fans of Ben Templesmith and Steve Niles’ graphic novels will be pleased by Slade’s dedication to the source material. “I wanted the look of the film to be very close to [the] artwork, which I very much liked,” says Slade. “To be true to the book, we had to be true not only to the story, but to the vision represented in the pictures.”

Slade’s attention to detail is paying off. The film, which opened on October 19th, topped this weekend’s box office with $16 million in receipts. As a sophomore director who landed such an eagerly anticipated movie, Slade serves to assure aspiring moviemakers everywhere that success can come with reputation, but the willingness to cannibalize a limb might help, too.