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|Index||199 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Caleb, a young cowboy out for a night of fun, meets Mae, a beautiful
and mysterious young girl with whom he becomes instantly besotted. Mae
is a strange young woman who runs off at the first sign of
daylight...but not before biting Caleb on the throat. As the sun rises
higher and Caleb finds himself suddenly sick and getting steadily
worse, a van load of drifters stop and all but kidnap him within sight
of his father and younger sister. In the van is Mae and her "family" -
a group of outlaw vampires who are not too thrilled with the addition
of Caleb to their group. Led by 300+ year old Jesse, his woman
Diamondback and the brutal Severen, the vampires reluctantly show Caleb
the ropes as they drift across the Midwest. But Caleb's father and
sister are looking for him, and soon Caleb will have to choose between
his old family and his new one.
This is a stunningly innovative and brutally bloody vampire film which never once uses the word "vampire." The dirty, cruel, white trash bloodsuckers could be anyone on the run from the law. This is almost more of a crime spree/road story a la "Natural Born Killers" than a horror movie, and this is exactly what makes it so effective. Stand out scenes include a slaughter at a honky tonk and a shootout at a hotel in the daylight hours. The characters are all well-drawn and complex and the stark scenery throughout - filled with dust and desert and not much else - just adds to the overwhelming sense of isolation, emptiness and death. The murders are incredibly sadistic and gruesome and should please gore fans. The ending - though it disappointed many - is simplistic and surprisingly upbeat, just adding to the grim fairy tale mood of the story. 9 on a scale of 10 for this powerful, desolate vampire tale.
Near Dark is the definitive vampire road movie. It's the most realistic and
non-traditional portrayal of vampires in my mind. They're cruising the
country...you know, just bored. And wouldn't they be bored? I mean if you
live forever, wouldn't you run out of things to do? They spend their time
getting in and out of trouble. And that's all they do. I love it. The
cast (Aliens anyone?) is top-notch. Adrien Pasdar is as underrated as they
come. He plays our likable hero who gets involved with our gang of vamps by
accident. Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein (all from
Aliens), Jenny Wright, and Joshua Miller are all perfectly cast as the
nocturnal family. Miller, oddly enough, is Jason Patric's half brother and
Near Dark was released just a few weeks after The Lost Boys. Henrikson is
appropriately evil and Paxton's Severen character is highly quotable and
memorable. Tim Thomerson and James Le Gros also put in an appearances.
Eric Red's script is every bit as cool as his earlier road movie, The
Hitcher. Kathryn Bigelow will go down in my book as having directed the
best vampire flick that I can think of.
Note for genre buffs: The word vampire is never used in the film.
One of the best modern vampire flicks around is this stylish, funny,
and all around adventurous cult classic.
Young cowboy is literally bitten by a beautiful stranger and ends up joining a band of blood-suckers who roam the American heartland.
Although Near Dark is often over-shadowed by the ultra-hip vampire movie The Lost Boys (1987), Near Dark is a far more juicier treat for horror fans. Eric Red, who also wrote The Hitcher (1986), gives us a seemingly old-fashioned tale of struggle between human nature and savage lust with a nicely spun sense of modernism. Not to mention plenty of touches of dark humor. It's a story that does well with avoiding the obvious clichés of the vampire genre. Director Kathryn Bigelow gives this film terrific style, not only adding scenic beauty but sharply creating plenty of intense action sequences. Near Dark also packs some great makeup FX and occasional gore. The entire sequence in the bar has became a favorite among many. Adding even more to the film is the beautiful music score by Tangerine Dream.
The cast is quite good. Adrian Pasdar is believable as our formerly-human hero. Lance Henriksen is genuine in his role as the leader of the vamp' band. However it's young Bill Paxton who does most of the scene stealing (and the comic relief) as a scary, yet cheeky vampire thug.
A modern vamp classic that delivers on all levels, Near Dark firmly remains a favorite of the genre and one of the most entertaining horror films of the 80's.
**** out of ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In filming "Near Dark", Kathryn Bigelow creates a masterpiece of
counter-cinematic art. Counter-cinema in its simplest definition is cinema
that through its own cinematic practices, questions and subverts existing
cinematic codes and conventions. Counter-cinema usually lies in
film-making, but sometimes may arise into some semi-mainstream Hollywood
films. The later works of Bigelow are much more mainstream, but her use of
genre, gender and narrative in her counter-cinematic works ("Near Dark"
"The Loveless") are identifiable in the more mainstream "Blue Steel" and
even "Point Break" and "Strange Days".
Counter-cinema often attempts to combine genres of film that would, on the surface seem to not go together. In "Near Dark" Bigelow cleverly combines the seemingly unrelated 'vampire' sub-genre and the 'western' genre. The fact is, these two genres are not as unrelated as we might expect. Both are embodied by a certain mysticism. The tradition of the cowboy as a mythic hero dates back to the western dime novels from the 1860's. The early days of western cinema were based to a large degree on these novels. Vampires are also seen as mythical beings. The first truly great vampire film was "Nosferatu" of 1922, but the whole mythical ideal of the vampire goes back even further. Bram Stoker's "Dracula" was published much before this date. The curious thing about "Near Dark" is that even though the 'western' genre and the 'vampire' genre have a mythical semblance to them, this film is the most realistic and human vampire film that I have seen. I suspect that this is because the film focuses on both worlds; that of nature which nurtures the farm which Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) comes from, and that of the tight knit family of vampires that Mae (Jenny Wright) comes from. Also, counter to many other works of vampire cinema, nowhere in "Near Dark" is the word 'vampire' stated. However, for the sake of simplicity, I will use the term 'vampire' in this review. Both worlds seem to offer something that the other wants, though humanity (not being human) seems to be the ultimate goal.
As the film begins, we meet Caleb who appears to be a drifter, sporting ragged western clothing and a cowboy hat. While standing outside a convenience store with his friends, he sees Mae walk out for a breath of air with her ice cream cone. He immediately is stunned by her overwhelming beauty so he goes and begins to talk to her. While taking an evening drive together, Caleb tells Mae that he has never met any other girls like her. "No, you haven't met any girls like me, she replies". She says that he has never met any other girls like her because when the light from a star hits earth a billion years later, she will still be here. Caleb is intrigued with Mae's mysticism, whereas many men would instantly be turned off by the oddness of her presence. But Caleb's character seems to have restless energy and dogged individualism, just as the traditional cowboy always does in film. He is not the type who would care.
It goes without saying that Caleb gets bit by Mae and is no longer a human being, at least in terms of the usual definition. In one of the film's most effective scenes Caleb stumbles across an open field in a desperate attempt to get home, just after he has been bitten. His body is beginning to burn in the open sunlight, but he does not know what has happened to him at this point. Sunlight plays an important role in "Near Dark", as it clearly contrasts the world of the vampires, and Caleb's world of the farm. The light which nurtures the farm and the fields that Caleb is crossing, is now the biggest threat to his survival. He has crossed over into a world, a world completely incompatible with his previous world. The vast, open fields again symbolize the western genre. Two key typologies to this genre are the open range and civilization. I personally was raised on a ranch, and I find it interesting how people like my parents refer to the ranching lifestyle as civilization. But the large and open landscapes of Oklahoma do not only represent the nurturing world of the farm; it is also a representation of loneliness and isolation on the part of vampires. The vampires in the film, are in a world where they are isolated by their confinement to the night and the need to feed upon human beings' blood to survive. In this sense, the landscape, which Caleb is crossing is a representation of both his previous life and his new life. Just before he makes it home, a large RV containing the family of vampires races towards him and picks him up. As he is pulled into the side door, Caleb loses his cowboy hat and hence loses a powerful connection to his previous identity.
What follows in the film are continual contrasts between both worlds, the one whose people live at night, and the other whose people live during the day. The only bridge or connection between the two is during the sunsets and the sunrises. There are numerous beautiful scenes where Caleb walks across the frame with a sunset in the background. Theoretically, this is the only place where the two worlds can co-exist. One may also see this motif as a bridge where the two genres of the vampire film and the western meet. The vampire can still survive in the dim light produced by a sunset or a sunrise, and at the same time the image of a sunset is a key visual in the western film.
"Near Dark" is not only about differences; Bigelow draws upon the family unit as an essential similarity between the vampires and the humans. There are strong parallels drawn between Caleb's family and Mae's family. Both are headed by distinctive male figures, Caleb's father and Jesse (Lance Henriksen). Both men maintain a tight bond within their separate families. Even though Jesse is not a father, he is a definite leader who acts as father-figure. He looks out for his own, just as Caleb's father is looking out for Caleb and his younger sister. Families, to the majority of people are a uniquely human unit. In depicting families in both worlds, we learn that humanity not only exists within the standard perception of the human unit. We must remember that each one of these vampires was at one point a human being. The film seems to be implying that even in the most extreme of transitions (from human to vampire), one cannot completely leave behind the rites that you previously cherished so deeply. Homer (Joshua John Miller), one of the vampires who was 'turned' while still a child, is the most blatant depiction of this notion. He appears to be quite disenchanted with his current lifestyle. He is always angry and cynical until he meets Caleb's sister. Homer seems to fall for her in much the same fashion that Caleb fell for Mae. Again, another parallel with humanity.
Interestingly, in "Near Dark", there is a way in which a vampire can make the transition back to a human being. Many people have argued that this process in not explained well enough. My only answer is that these people should watch the film again a few times, and they may arrive at some possible answers. The way I view the film, the process of converting the vampire to a human relates back to the whole notion of nature and nurturing that is so apparent in the rest of the film.
**** out of ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
How interesting: Kathryn Bigelow was married to James Cameron at the time
this film was made and she has three superb cast members from Aliens that
make this film a treat to watch.
Lance Henriksen ( Bishop from Aliens ) tells Caleb " I may have taught him everything he knows, but I certainly never taught him everything I know. " Now that is a cool line. The strength in this film is the atmosphere. It is not really a scary movie but the feel of it makes you want to keep watching. You want to know what cool line Bill ( Hudson from Aliens ) was going to come out with. Jeannette ( Vasquez from Aliens ) Goldstein essentially plays the same role in this film as she did in Aliens but she does it so well. I think if this film was directed by a bigger named director it would have done better business at the box office. It really is a good movie with a funny script. Bigelow just wasn't a big name director but now that this film is on video it should be treasured. At least to see what Paxton does with his character. And to see how he dies, after all, he does in almost every film before Titanic.
This film is obviously stolen by Bill Paxton and although the plot is very simple there are some interesting points of discussion for example the whole blood transfusion scenario. It is an enjoyable vampire western, however the word vampire is never expressed in the film. It neglects all the vampire clichés, and is impressive for it's time. It's quite obvious that films such as From Dusk Til Dawn and The Forsaken have taken there inspiration from this movie. The best scene is by far the bar slaughter. For Kathryn Bigalow's first film it is a triumph and a film to be proud of. I think that anyone who hasn't seen this film should give it a look, because it cleverly combines comedy, drama, horror and gore, but for people who are slightly sickened by the site of blood and horrific killings, be wary of Severens' spur to the neck slaughter.
This is one of the best vampire flicks I've ever seen. These aren't your standard sharp fang having, flying, cool contact wearing, red cape sporting vampires. Rather these vampires look like nomads, leftovers from a roaming biker gang. They drive around in a trailer that has aluminum foil covering the windows to block out the sunlight. They drink blood. They spit out the bullets you shoot them with. They're a tad different than your classic vampire but different enough to keep them interesting. Fans of Cameron's Aliens take note, you have a triple score here with Lance Henriksen (Bishop), Jeanette Goldstein (Vasquez) and Bill Paxton (Hudson) teamed together again. Not too surprising being that Cameron and director Kathryn Bigelow have worked together several times on various films. Bill Paxton is hilarious in this, I have to say. Fans won't be disappointed. I really like this movie. It never gets old, the special effects/make up are pretty decent (nothing too fake looking) and the characters are more than one-dimensional, supported by satisfactory performances throughout. There's enough gore here to satisfy the modest gore-hound and it's entertaining throughout. Give this movie a shot if you're looking for something different. It's a hip vampire movie that works simply because it's not trying to be hip, you follow? Rating: **** out of *****.
I hunted this film for ages and then it came out on DVD, so I had to
buy it. Originally, it was purely due to the cast. I thought it would
be good though and I was not let down, in fact, my expectations were
well exceeded. Near Dark is my favourite vampire film and I am proud to
be part of the cult following this film has gathered years since its
The camera work is great, Bigelow does a really great job in the director's chair and always does her best to make a film look as visually impressive as possible; it's hard to believe this was a low budget movie. The screenplay for the film is excellent and very original. Near Dark is very different to other vampire films and it really is refreshing to watch something so different. Where most vampire films bathe in Gothic undertones and romanticise themselves, Near Dark is much more subtle, even to the point where the word 'vampire' is not included within the picture. I can see why Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron ended up married briefly as they both have similar integrity when it comes to film making.
The casting of the movie is its best point. The Aliens trio of Paxton, Goldstein and Henriksen were brilliant in this. Paxton and Henriksen are two of my favourite actors and I believe this is the best character Paxton has ever played, even Hudson does not compare to the mighty Severen! These three actors all excel at playing ruthless characters and do a great job at making Near Dark as entertaining as possible. In the midst of all the carnage, Adrian Pasdar and Jenny Wright do very well in bringing Near Dark down to earth. The chemistry between the two is very good and the characters are effective as they provide contrast between the other main characters.
I feel I must talk about the bar scene. As soon as that music kicks in, you know some on screen magic is about to happen. This is where the Aliens cast members really shine. Paxton is spitting out more clichés than he is blood. Also, as a big Terminator fan, I had to notice the bar patron as the T-2 'You forgot to say please' guy. I think he should stay away from bars from now on! This is what the film builds up to and this is the turning point of the film from a mainly character piece to a nail biting thriller. This is one of the most enjoyable and memorable scenes you will ever see.
Near Dark is a fantastic film, sadly overlooked due to people drawing too many comparisons between this and Lost Boys. This is far superior to Lost Boys as this has far more substance and more than one memorable character. With gruesome imagery, streams of blood and Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen, this is the ultimate vampire film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Near Dark is stylishly directed, well written, and enjoyable to watch. It's
very easy to sink yourself into the velvety world of the night and see from
One of the pleasant parts of the film is that traditional good guys and villains are continually switched around as the film progresses. Sympathy for the nomadic vampire group shifts throughout different parts of the film, playing with your emotions. A nice touch, well done.
The two main characters, Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) and Mae (Jenny Wright) are excellent in their parts and know their characters well. Bill Paxton enjoys his role as the wise-cracking and unstable spur-sporting Severen and gets some brilliant one-liners. In general, the script is crisp and well written.
The movie is flawed in parts, but I don't feel that that makes it any less enjoyable, just marks points that could be improved. For example, it is NEVER explained how you turn a vampire back into a human. It just happens, and that is irritating to an otherwise well thought out film.
Basically, Near Dark drips atmosphere, and sinks you into its world of shadows, passion and blood. It's actually more of a love story than a horror story, and gels both genres together well.
An occasionally (and vexingly) flawed but otherwise spectacular piece of vampire lore.
A real gem of a film which deserved a lot more credit than it ever received. Director Kathryn Bigelow went on to produce Aliens and direct Blue Steel and Point Blank, while writer Eric Red went on to direct the brilliant but rarely-glimpsed Coen and Tate, an equally dark movie. In this stylish tale of modern-day vampires, gothic horror is mixed with modern-day American society. The hero, Caleb, is plunged into a shadowy world of immortal vampires that exists just below the ordinary world as the bad guys imitate modern mortals to hunt their prey. With atmospheric music by German techno-band Tangerine Dream, an impressive and evocative horror film with the added attraction that it features my favourite actress, Jenny Wright!
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