Movie Name: Near Dark
Studio: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Release Date(s): October 2, 1987
MPAA Rating: R
Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) lives a quiet life in a southern town. When a strange girl named Mae (Jenny Wright) comes into town one night, Caleb spends the evening with her. When the night nears the end, she flees, but not before biting Caleb on the neck. As the sun rises Caleb finds himself burning and his is only saved by Mae’s “family” Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen), Severen (Bill Paxton), Horner (Joshua John Miller), and Diamondback (Jenette Goldstein). As Caleb fights the instincts of the vampire, his father Loy (Tim Thomerson) searches for him. When Caleb and Mae escape with the potential of a cure, will Hooker and his family allow Mae and Caleb to leave?
Near Dark was directed by the future Academy Award winning director Katheryn Bigalow who also helped write it. The film along with Fright Night and The Lost Boys is often cited as films that brought the vampire movie into the modern age.
What is interesting about Near Dark is the blend of genres. Near Dark is a Western-Horror movie. It isn’t the first to do this but the examples are few and far between. It makes perfect sense as a western and other films followed it. The vampires use different methods and the vampires are far more ruthless than vampires of previous films and are more like outlaws. They don’t deal in hypnotizing their victims or seducing them…they just kill, infect, and take what they want.
Bigalow worked on Aliens and borrowed Henriksen, Golstein, and Paxton from the cast. Pasdar is kind of flat as Caleb (he also played the straight-laced “flying man” Nathan Petrelli on Heroes), but the crazy vampire family is what really helps drive Near Dark. Paxton like many of his early characters plays a good psychopath. Severen is crazy, but the rest of the family also insane. It is like a suped-up Texas Chain Saw Massacre family who drinks blood instead of eating the family.
*****Spoiler Alert***** The biggest problem I have with Near Dark is the ending sequence. The whole “cure” portion of the film seems lame. I know that you are supposed to like Mae and Caleb, but the idea that they can be saved by a blood transfusion is lame…plus that this guy from a small town has this miracle cure. If it were possible, AIDS and other diseases could just be fixed. The showdown between the vampires is ok, but I wish they hadn’t gone through the cure solution (the head vampire aspect of The Lost Boys is much smarter and more traditional).
While The Lost Boys and Fright Night really thrived, Near Dark didn’t set the world on fire. It was liked by critics but when compared to the other two films, it was more of a building cult following. The movie was allegedly planned for a remake, but themes similar to the Twilight series, ended the plans.
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