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Natural Born Vampires
Gafke23 August 2004
Warning: 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.
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and they didn't even say the 'V' word!
AngryChair14 January 2006
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 ****
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One, two, four... BANG! Bullseye!
Mr Parker15 August 2002
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 *****.
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"We keep odd hours."
Backlash00715 September 2003
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 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.
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The cast from Aliens shines here
Dan Grant24 June 1999
Warning: 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.
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A Counter-Cinematic Masterpiece!
Sean Rutledge17 June 1999
Warning: 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 independent 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" and "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 ****
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Bill Paxton stole the show
mamma_boomshank18 February 2005
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.
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Howdy. I'm gonna separate your head from your shoulders. Hope you don't mind none.
Spikeopath9 August 2010
Near Dark is directed and written by Kathryn Bigelow with Eric Red also credited for the screenplay. It stars Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein & Bill Paxton. The score is provided by Tangerine Dream and Adam Greenberg is the cinematographer.

A small Oklahoma town and Caleb Colton (Pasdar) meets Mae (Jenny Wright), an attractive young drifter. They chat, they flirt and just before sunrise she bites him on the neck before running away. Welcome to your new vampire family Caleb……

It's now written in scripture that Bigelow's Vampire Western failed miserably at the box office and quickly vanished into the shadow of Joel Schumacher's popular Vampo piece, The Lost Boys. However, thanks to VHS interest, the film refused to shrivel up and blow away when the sun came up. Over the years the film has garnered a cult fan base and been reappraised by many of the front line critics to great reviews. So much so that now it's considered something of an enigmatic & poetic classic that's directed by a hugely talented female director.

With its core story the film offers nothing new to the vampire sub-genre. The blood as a drug/thirst motif was long ago penned by one Bram Stoker. But Near Dark is not interested in traditional vampire mythology, this is a modern spin where garlic, bats, crosses and stakes are neither needed or thought about. In fact the word vampire is never mentioned in the film. This is, all told, a film about the human side of the night dwellers, we hop inside their blacked out bus and hit the road; along with the confused and conflicted Caleb. What follows is touches of savagery and touches of ethereal beauty-beauty that comes not from Gothic touches, but from dusky Western surrounds. Photographer Greenberg blending oater stylings with moody horror atmospherics, his light work carrying a sexy sheen that dovetails smartly with the "family" and their life when the sun has gone from the sky. It's seductive, it's what Bigelow wanted and got, the mood created helps us to understand how easy it was for Caleb to be drawn to Mae in the first place.

That Bigelow chose to hire Greenberg {and to utilise him to the max} obviously aids the film no end. That she surrounded herself with quality character actors was something of a master stroke. This allowed her to focus on the tone and flow of the piece, safe in the knowledge that Messrs Henriksen (great character depth), Paxton (a bundle of film stealing energy) and Goldstein (savvy) were carrying the film safely to its Western style finale. Lest we forget the efforts of then unknowns Pasdar & Wright, both pretty and perky, for they too instill their characters with a warmth and tenderness that belies the blood shedding that surrounds their coupling. It's also noteworthy that we are not being asked to sympathise with the addiction plight of the "family," understand? Yes, but never sympathise. Even if the poetic noirish beauty of it all can lure you nervously into its seductive arms and make you feel at odds with your feelings.

Not many knew it at the time, but this was to be a hugely influential film. One that now still shows aspiring newcomers to the sub-genre how it should be done. 8/10
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Best Vampire Flick Ever!
Lt_Coffey_18211 October 2003
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 release.

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.
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mainly for cinephiles
A_Different_Drummer18 November 2015
The musical question is, with Bigelow behind the camera and big names in front, how can you go wrong? The answer? This is, was, and always will be a B grade film done on the cheap with a small ensemble cast. As such it does offer historical interest for cinephiles especially since the idea of looking at the "human" side of vampires was at least 10 years ahead of the curve and that deserves credit. Ditto for the fact that script -- which is sharp in some places and terrible in others -- does not even use the word "vampire" which, for the era, was a sign of great restraint.

However that said, the truth is that this is not really a classic and does not hold up that well over time. There is also an internal imbalance, the first half of the film is much tighter and more coherent than the second, as money ran out during shooting which, given the era and the genre, might have actually happened.
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An absolute classic
NateWatchesCoolMovies7 October 2015
Kathryn Bigelow's dusty, ambient vampire western is a timeless classic for me, and a lived in genre entry with stellar performances, razor sharp writing (Eric Red power), and confident direction from Bigelow, at her very best when working in the pulpy realm of action, crime and horror. Once again Tangerine Dream contributes wonderfully atmospheric work (they seem to be a running theme with the movies I watch, can you tell I like them?) that compliments the bloody spectacle on display. Aimless young cowboy Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) is transfixed one desolate night by a eerie, gorgeous drifter girl (Jenny Wright) who's passing through his small town. She takes him on a night ride into the outskirts of town, and in a delirious make out session beneath the stars, bites his neck, changing him into one of her kind (the word vampire is never actually mentioned throughout the film). She takes pity on him and convinces her roaming pack of fellow blood sucking no,ads to try and take her in as one of their own. They are led by ruthless, violent patriarch Jesse (Lance Henriksen, a spectral force of enigmatic intimidation), his girl Diamondback (Janette Goldstein) and young Homer (Joshua Miller). The real standout, however, is Bill Paxton as Severin, the loony toon psychopathic whack job of the group. There's a blood freezing, prolonged sequence where the clan terrorizes an interstate roadhouse, and Paxton cuts loose and raises all hell, proving his talent to bring an audience their knees with his good ol boy ferocity. Caleb is very reluctant when forced to feed on innocent humans, and keeps relying on Mae to give him blood from her own veins, refusing to resort to predator instinct like the others. Meanwhile, his farmer father (Tim Thomerson, always welcome) and little sister search for him across the southwest. There's some truly memorable set pieces here, the bar scene I mentioned earlier, a smouldering climax on barren highways, and a sickening sequence where a blood deprived Caleb feverishly tries to purchase a bus ticket home. Bigelow infuses her love for visceral action and vivid characterizations together with the melodic nature of the story, resulting in a broad,backwater fable that's equal parts brutal and beautiful.
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A cult film classic, although flawed, that is eminently watchable.
Lothos21 February 1999
Warning: 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 its perspective.

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.

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A Modern American Horror Story
erceis23 November 2000
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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Really good modern day Vampire film.
Paul Andrews6 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Near Dark starts late one night in a small rural American town where a guy named Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) spots an attractive woman named Mae (Jenny Wright), he introduces himself to her & they hit it off so Caleb offers her a lift home. On the way Mae stresses that she needs to be home before dawn but Caleb is insistent on at least a kiss, Mae bites his neck & runs off. As Caleb staggers home the sun begins to rise & his skin starts to burn, suddenly a large motor home pulls up in front of him, the occupants pull Caleb inside & drive off. Caleb's kidnappers turn out to be a dysfunctional family of Vampires, Jesse (Lance Henriksen) & Diamondback (Jenette Goldstein) are head of the family while Homer (Joshua John Miller), Severen (Bill Paxton) &, of course, Mae are their Vampire offspring. Caleb is slowly turning into a Vampire & soon discovers that he must kill other's so that he may drink their blood. As one might expect Caleb isn't keen on the idea & sets out to return home to his proper family...

Co-written & directed by Kathryn Bigelow Near Dark is an excellent film. The script by Bigelow & Eric Red builds the character's superbly to a point where you care for them, a unusual thing in a horror film. The way the tale is told is also refreshingly different to the usual Vampire film, the way we follow Caleb turning into a Vampire & the obvious problems that would bring are well developed & put across. The way Near Dark portrays the Vampire existence as desperate moving from one motel to another trying to avoid capture & the brutality of their lives as they stick together & try to survive. There are no traditional Vampire hunters, no garlic or stakes through the heart as it brings the Vampire right up to date & presents them as cold, sadistic blood drinking creatures of the night rather than the romanticised suave figures painted by some films. Near dark moves along at a reasonable pace but since the writing is so good I didn't mind the odd slow patch, it grips & engages & most importantly it entertains. The only real negative is the quickness & ease in which Caleb & Mae are cured of Vampirism in a 'live happily ever after' type Hollywood ending.

Director Bigelow does a great job, Near Dark has style, a great story & atmosphere. Near Dark may not be the goriest film ever but it sure is brutal, from very gory shoot outs to a vicious & sadistic scene in a bar when a couple of people have their throats slit.

With a budget of about $5,000,000 Near Dark is a very competent film & well made throughout with high production values. The acting is first class & reunites three cast members from Aliens (1986), the always watchable & excellent Henriksen, the underused Goldstein & the fantastic Paxton who could probably say the most boring line of dialogue ever & still make it sound cool, virtually everything this guy says instantly becomes quotable.

Near Dark is an excellent Vampire film that has a great story, good action & nice performances. What more can I say? Go watch it!
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One of My Favorite Cult-Movies
Claudio Carvalho13 September 2010
In Phoenix, the young cowboy Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) meets the beautiful Mae (Jenny Wright) late night in town and she asks for a ride to her trailer. It is near dawn and Caleb brings Mae that is in a hurry; he asks for a kiss and she bites him on the neck. Caleb's truck does not start and he walks home. However, when the sunlight hits him close to his farm, he starts to burn. His father Loy Colton (Tim Thomerson) and his sister Sarah (Marcie Leeds) witness a van that appears out of the blue and kidnaps Caleb. He is introduced to Mae's family: the leader Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen), his mate Diamondback (Jenette Goldstein), the cruel Severen (Bill Paxton) and the boy Homer (Joshua Miller). In common, all of them are predator creatures of night that need blood to survive. However, Caleb refuses to kill and Mae gives her own blood to him to keep him alive. Meanwhile Loy and Sarah are looking for Caleb; when they meet each other in a motel, Caleb has to choose between his beloved family and his love for Mae.

"Near Dark" is earlier work of the Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow, an original and gore road-movie and one of my favorite cult-movies. Mae and her family are never called "vampires" and they are very brutal and sadistic with their countless victims. Caleb is a family young man that is in love with Mae and is forced to live with these evil creatures. The plot blends romance, crime, violence, thriller and horror and the result is a great film. There is also dark humor in the lines and my favorite is when Severen says that he hates when his victims are not shaved. The soundtrack with the music of Tangerine Dream is another plus. I do not precisely know how many times I have watched this film but the previous time was on 30 December 2002. Unfortunately it has been only released on VHS in Brazil by Video Plus distributor and the image does not have good quality. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Near Dark – Quando Chega a Escuridão" ("Near Dark – When the Darkness Comes")

Note: Today (16 Oct 2010) I have seen "Near Dark" again, now on Blu-Ray that I have just bought. In the Extras, there is a 2002 documentary with the director, producer, lead cast and crew. Unfortunately Jenny Wright has not been located to participate in this nostalgic footage mandatory for any fan.

On 05 October 2013, I saw this movie again.
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An original and inventive cult classic
The_Void24 January 2005
Released in the shadow of the higher budget and more audacious comic fantasy masterpiece 'The Lost Boys', Near Dark doesn't quite get the recognition it deserves within the horror genre. Although it's not as great as the aforementioned cult classic, Near Dark has it's own niche within the vampire sub-genre for being such an original take on it. The rules of vampire horror have been reinvented, changed or discarded completely and the result is something to behold. This allows Katherine Bigelow to do whatever she wants with the premise, and this makes for a very thrilling movie as we're lead to believe that absolutely anything can happen, which continually keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. The story, which takes in various elements of common vampire folklore such as the transition from human to inhuman, follows Caleb Colton; a young farm boy that is taken in by a beautiful young woman (and you wouldn't blame him when you see her…), and soon finds himself battling with some strange ailment that makes him allergic to sunlight, shortly before being picked up by a rag-tag band of vampires that inhabit an old pick up truck. We then follow Caleb as he comes to terms with his situation and attempts to fit in with the pack...

For this movie, Katherine Bigelow recruited three of the support players from her then husband's fabulous 'Aliens'. Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen and Janette Goldstein bring life to the movie's core as the three major players of the vampire nomads. Bill Paxton in particular is fantastic as usual as Severen; the most pronounced member of the group. Bill is an actor that tends to get support roles that almost carry the film, and that's exactly the case here. That's not to say that Near Dark is only Paxton's movie, as Adrian Pasdar and the incredible Jenny Wright do well in the lead roles, as do the rest of the support players. But when the movie is over, it's Bill Paxton that sticks in your mind the most. The cinematography on show in Near Dark is superb and a delight for the eyes – as well as the brain, because Near Dark breathes a continual atmosphere of intrigue from the way it's beautifully shot. The music by Tangerine Dream is right on cue as well, and it brings a surreal, trippy sensation to the proceedings, which emphasises the dream-like state that our hero has been put into.

Near Dark is a vampire movie free of the usual clichés and one that makes it's own rules, which makes it must see for the vampire fan. I wouldn't recommend this movie to people who are new to the vampire movie from the off, however, as it's one that needs to be viewed after you've got used to the genre staples in order to fully appreciate it, but once you have got used to it; this isn't a movie you'll want to miss.
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Great start but rapidly degenerates toe curling bad movie
owen_twistfield5 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is a balance of good ideas and bad plot as it starts out great but degenerates rapidly into a toe curling bad movie. As such it isn't worth the trouble to watch it a second time. And I would advise people to think twice before buying it.

At first the movie starts out great. It is a kind of a road movie. Cowboy meets girl. Girl turns boy in a creature of the night. Cowboy get's drawn into a life of violence as he is dragged along the road by a group of undead who travel around killing people and sucking their blood. These are't the sleek and nice vampires that say sorry when they bite, but the kind that kill for the fun of it and leave a trail of corpses in their wake.

Well this is at least a new take on the vampire movie. In fact the new cowboy vampire has to earn his place. The other vampires pressure him kill. Killing is graduating to full vampire stardom. It is the point of no return.

But then suddenly the bright idea's stop and the movie degenerates into misdirected violence. On it's own violence can be something that adds to the movie, but this movie just serves up fights that are odd and illogical. Let me explain.

The turning point is actually the bar scene halfway. The group of vampires descend on a bar and start to kill everyone inside. Oddly enough the normal people don't even make a break for it after one of the girls cut the throat of the waitress. They sort of blink their eyes as if someone just downed a pint of lager in one go and then stand around waiting to be killed. The bartender in the meantime takes forever to get is double barreled shotgun loaded and apparently two loads of buckshot in this movie doesn't do much to a vampire. Aim for the head I always say. One of the customers is allowed to flee by the cowboy vampire as he still reluctant to kill people.

The next step is ridiculous. The vampires hide from the sun in a bungalow. The police, tipped by the escaped customer, surrounds the place during the day with two cars and four man. This customer has previous seen the vampires survive a full load from a shotgun up close. He has seen the vampires drink the blood of their victims. He has seen the whole shebang. But the police turns out with four men and two cars.

Then the vampires escape during the day because the cowboy runs out with a blanket, jumps into a van and drives it through the bungalow so the other vampires can get in. Then he drives it out at the other side. And the police can't chase them for their two cars have been damaged in the fight.

At this point one unbelievable scene tumbles over the next. The vampires escape. The family of the cowboy happen to be in the same motel they lurk in. The family is threatened by the vampires, but they escape because the young daughter throws open the door and the sun streams in, while a few minutes before it was still dark.

The cowboy and family take a hike. The cowboy get's a blood transfusion and is human once more. Then they totally forget that they have been chased by a bunch of killers and sit around idly at the ranch in the night with the windows open. So the young daughter is kidnapped.

The cowboy chases the vampires. He confronts them, without any weapons. Then a fuel truck comes along and he get's in and whacks the vicious vampire when the truck blows up.

Next cowboy somehow manages to get his sister free in a scene which involves one of the vampire girls throwing his knife at another vampire by mistake because the cowboy ducks in time. The girl lets cowboy and young girl run. The vampire pulls out the knife, tries to fire, good vampire girl pushes the gun way and then he decides not to fire his gun a second time, instead they jump into the car to chase the cowboy and his sister.

The cowboy and his sister run out of town into the surrounding countryside. The vampires chase them. They grab the little girl again. The sun pops up. The daughter and the nice vampire girl escape the car. The bad boy vampire runs after them and is then blown to smithereens by the sun(but the nice vampire girl not). The remaining vampires get the same treatment when the sun sizzles them and the car to kingdom come.

The nice vampire girl gets a blood transfusion and everything is forgiven and forgotten(including the mountain of corpses she has created.)

Happy end.

For some reason the vampires are continuously active around sunset so the director can serve us burning vampires, humans who escape the clutches of the vampires, and vampires scrambling for cover. This ploy is used again and again. For another reason it is unclear why the vampires don't just kill the cowboy vampire. They give him a week to kill someone and he fails to do so. In fact he let's someone escape who then sets the police on them. Why?

The movie shows that great ideas and a able cast do not make a great movie. It starts out well and then becomes a badly directed action movie. Can't think of a reason why I should watch this twice. Seen better.
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Really good, almost great
zetes4 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I had never even heard of this vampire flick until Kathryn Bigelow became big news last year. I, like many, felt that people were trying to rewrite the history of her career to make her look like some kind of unrecognized genius. I had only ever seen Strange Days and Point Break, which didn't give me confidence that she was anything special until The Hurt Locker. Near Dark proves me (at least somewhat) incorrect. This is a horror gem, a truly well directed little film. It is far from perfect, but Bigelow has a fantastic control of mood, and creates some brilliant setpieces. And she does it all relatively quietly, using atmosphere to create tension until she gets to the big, explosive climactic sequence. Adrian Pasdar stars (and is a little dull) as a country boy who picks up a vampire chick (Jenny Wright, super cute). She very coyly transforms him into a vampire. He's quickly picked up by her crew, a group of vampires (including Lance Henrickson and Bill Paxton, who both kick all kinds of ass) who work together to get meals and stay alive. Pasdar isn't well trusted in the group, despite Wright's love for him, and he eventually tries to break from the group. There is one plot point that kind of bugs me (the way Pasdar and Wright get cured of their vampirism is just way too easy and stupid), but most of the film is gripping and excellent.
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Interesting Take On The Vampire Genre
Theo Robertson22 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie could have been a disaster - Trailer trash vampires ! In terms of box office it was something of a disaster but that was due to the studio going bust when NEAR DARK was released hence the movie had problems getting wide distribution not to do with the quality of the movie or bad word of mouth . Admittedly there are a few niggling problems with the script like for example the rather slow start which is intriguing first time you see it as it sets up the story but becomes something of an ordeal once you know the plot , and the cure for Cabel and Mae's condition is as vague as it is unlikely

But the script is saved by Kathryn Bigelow's directing . Let me just repeat that this horror movie could have turned out completely laughable due to the subject matter but everything is played for real and you won't feel like laughing much as the trailer trash vamps go on a killing spree . Actually this is a possible criticism of Bigelow , she makes everything a little too dark , a little too bleak and a little too ultra violent but I guess that's the point we're supposed to empathise with poor Cabel who's as much a victim as the people the vampires murder . The director also manages to make the romance between the male and female protagonists surprisingly touching which is something that rarely succeeds in this type of genre , you may find the score by Tangerine Dream a bit too 1980s but the music by the band goes with the visuals which isn't something you can say about THE KEEP . The only real criticism I have is a scene involving the timeframe - Several characters walk into a motel room and it's pitch black outside then when a character opens the door a mere two minutes later ( The scene is one take in real time ) it's a bright sun lit morning , but this is probably the fault of the script rather than director or editor

As far as horror movies go I was fairly impressed by NEAR DARK and would certainly recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in horror movies , though it's probably a bit too violent and morbid for some tastes
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Vibrant '80s slice of anarchy
Leofwine_draca1 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Considered something of a modern day classic in the vampire genre, NEAR DARK immediately dispels many of the myths we have come to associate with the bloodsucker. There are no traditions in this film; no crosses, or garlic, or even fangs. No robed figures in shiny black capes, no widow's peaks. No fake Transylvanian accents. The vampires here (the word "vampire" is not even mentioned in the film) are simply a pack of marauding murderers, compelled to drink human blood. The only indication that they are the traditional vampires of lore is the way they burn up in the sunlight (done to very good effect here).

Now, I don't know about you, but the film for me is much more realistic - and therefore frightening - than many other vampire films I have seen. The Christopher Lee Dracula movies are my favourite vampire films, but let's face it, they're so far removed from contemporary times that they just aren't scary at all. But the vampires in NEAR DARK are ferocious killers who enjoy playing with their victims before they move in for the kill, and that makes them all the more horrible.

NEAR DARK is as much a romance story as a horror, as the plot centres on the two leads and their relationship. Adrian Pascar and Jenny Wright are both effective performers and their love is totally believable. Along for the ride are four other actors and actresses of note. Firstly, Jenette Goldstein as the 'mother' of the vampire family, putting in a similar gung-ho performance to her role as commando Vasquez in ALIENS. Also added into the mixture are Lance Henriksen, who has appeared in countless horror films and who is now quite well-known for his role in Chris Carter's MILLENNIUM. Henriksen plays a typical character, an evil and twisted, yet noble, murderer. Tim Thomerson, star of hundreds of straight-to-video schlock features, has a small role as Caleb's dad, but the star of the show has to be Bill Paxton. Paxton, now something of a mainstream hero, appeared in lots of films in the horror genre in the '80s and this is one of his best roles. He steals the picture every time he's on screen and his portrayal of the twisted psychopath is truly memorable. Interestingly, Paxton, Henriksen, and Goldstein have all teamed up from 1986's ALIENS. There's a lot of violence in this film, especially in the bar scene where a man's throat is slashed open by a spur on someone's shoe, and excellent special effects in the form of the vampires burning.

The only criticism I would level is that the film has such a powerful plot (you're watching all the time to see what happens next) then there is no particular reason to watch it again. However it is a very good contemporary vampire film which treats vampirism as something akin to drug addiction (a theme used quite often, watch THE ADDICTION for example). If you're looking for something different to the usual fang-and-cape crusades then this '80s slice of anarchy is definitely for you.
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Blood and Beer.
Robert J. Maxwell22 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
It's the world of the 1930s gangsters updated. The iconography is all pick up trucks, redneck bars, shabby motels, spurs, cowboy boots, guns, police pursuits, and the dusty roads of Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma.

The difference is that this filthy and diverse half dozen are not bank robbers but blood robbers. They're vampires in the old-fashioned sense. Come to my laboratory -- I sock your blot. They are the dirtiest, greasiest, most unkempt of leather-jacketed vampires you ever saw. They're exceedingly profane. They play poker and cheat. Their jeans have holes in the knees. They badly need showers.

I'm not sure all the traditional rules of vampirism apply. Unlike Nosferatu, they don't go up in a puff of smoke and turn to ash the moment the sun strikes them. Instead, they get hurt if caught in the daylight and then, by degrees, char, smoke, begin to flame, and finally explode. They can also reverse their condition by an infusion of blood from a voluntary donor, or so I gather, since it happens twice. They also gain partial protection from the effects of solar rays by covering themselves with filthy blankets. No crucifixes or garlic in the movie.

In style, as well as in content, it's an odd mixture. Bigelow, the director, knows what she's doing and has a sure eye for the camera. She's helped enormously by the arty and perceptive photography of Adam Greenberg. A darkened motel bungalow is shot full of holes and the family is at pains to avoid the pencils of light shining through the punctures. A neat scene -- after it was used in "Black Sunday" but before "L.A. Confidential." And most electronic scores are a fornication upon the tympanum -- let's face facts -- but Tangerine Dream's score is simple, eerie, and slightly melancholy, mostly extended tuneless chords.

Most of the performers were not big names, and aren't bankable now. The movie must not have been a budget buster. But they get the job done. And the script has a few felicities. Shot in the stomach with an ordinary pistol, vampire Lance Henrikson coughs up the bullet, spits it out, and pats it into the shooter's pocket.

Added to these unexpected bonuses is a tendency towards cliché, as if the writers and director added them because they thought the audience would be disappointed if they didn't show up. There are several fireballs, one of which I couldn't understand. Every action movie must have exploding fireballs. And they must be in slow motion. Why, you ask? There are some things mortal man was never meant to know. Don't ever ask again, or all the garlic in the world won't help you.

A splendidly photographed story of low-proletarian vampires, with some tension between the rollicking nocturnal life style of the undead and the ordinary bourgeois life everybody else leads. There's a scene in which an affable black guy picks them up in his eighteen wheeler and explains how the gears and brakes work. They persuade him to stop -- and then they kill him and suck his blood. If you like that scene, you'll like the rest of the film. The attraction of life everlasting is always lost on me. Who wants to be a Teaching Assistant for five hundred years?
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critical darling... how???
piller23 October 2002
Based on the critical buzz, I rented this film and showed it at our weekly scary movie night. The critics were on crack! What was that? This film is awful, cliched, unsuspenseful, boring, poorly written, sloppily directed and laughably acted. Don't be fooled like we were. Avoid this and watch a known and proven commodity.

Thank you.
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Jesus, did you people even watch the same movie?
t-man1705730 December 2002
This movie actually dropped my IQ. I truly don't see how anyone could enjoy this steaming pile of cow dung. I saw frailty with bill paxton and was amazed at that movie, so naturally I thought this one would be good as well. OOOOPS. Bad move Pardner (oops slipped into the movie for a moment).

Ok, First, the vampires survived for years, and yet these idiots don't EVER think to tape up the windows before sunrise? EVER? Call me crazy, but I find it hard to be scared by a group of morons who could be foiled by simply hiding the black paint, newspaper, aluminum foil, and duct tape 2 min before sunrise. Ohhhh, don't kill me mr vampire, oh wait, what do I have here? Yep, your can o spray paint, and I'm taking your blankie too, bye bye moron.

Ok, lets let that one go, whats with the casting of this moronic child vampire who could not act his way out of a paper bag? Line after line of READING from this idiot. I felt bad for Paxton and Lance Henriksen being placed in a movie that sucked more than an entire department store full of hoovers. And Severn was just a little too stupid to be considered scary or mean. The killer from seven, scary, the little girl from the Ring, Scary, the spirit that takes over Regan's body in the Excorcist, scary, Severen the vampire who would fail his GED once each day and twice on sunday- Not scary.

I guess I just expected better work after seeing frailty. As to those who have placed this as the best vampire movie of all time, I can only truly hope and pray that you have a very very obtuse sense of humor and indeed are making a satirical joke.

My advice, don't go anywhere near this DVD if you value a coherent story with even mildly intelectual characters.
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Bite the Dust
wes-connors7 February 2010
"Country boy Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) whittles away the quiet rural nights hunting local girls - but, when he falls prey to the mysterious and beautiful Mae (Jenny Wright), Caleb unknowingly becomes the hunted. Mae is no ordinary girl, Caleb soon learns; she is part of an outlaw band of vampires, and their love is about to lure him into a terrifying world of blood-lust, mayhem, and absolute horror. Will Caleb pay the ultimate price for love and eternal life - or, will he find a way to defeat the evil growing inside him each night...?"

Here is a "vampire" film which is a little disarming because it operates outside the range of (once upon a time) accepted, recognizable vampire rules. These bloodsuckers do not bare fangs, avoid garlic, or shun the Christian cross. In a sense, the "Near Dark" vampires are a continuation of the genre's evolution - cousins of wrist-suckers like Jonathan Frid's "Barnabas Collins" and Anne Rice's "Vampire Lestat". Interestingly, "Barnabas" and the similarly reluctant vampire "Caleb" are changed by the presence of an innocent little sister named "Sarah".

Director Kathryn Bigelow, with assist from Eric Red, does a bang-up job with her vampires; slow moody shots and explosive action sequences are almost equally spellbinding. The film is paced beautifully, and is forgiven for some moments where it becomes difficult to suspend disbelief. The young leads are very attractive. And, Civil War veteran Lance Henriksen (as Jesse), bosomy girlfriend Jenette Goldstein (as Diamondback), sadistic pal Bill Paxton (as Severen), plus adolescent punk Joshua Miller (as Homer) set the screen on fire.

******** Near Dark (10/2/87) Kathryn Bigelow ~ Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton
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Near Dark is near dead
igor-8624 October 2003
-- This 1987 Vamp movie, states that it is a classic on the cover box, and perhaps it is. But this reviewer doesn't think so. First off the plot line, story arch whatever you want to call it doesn't really mesh all together. Jesse ( Lance Henrickson) and his clan go from bar to bar, killing people and stealing cars. Add in Caleb and his refusal to kill and you have would a good storyline. It just doesn't all come out as well as I think it could have. Though there are good moments, like how each member has their own way of attracting their prey. But their are bad, and I mean bad moments, such as a blood transfusion being the cure to vampirism. Um.. No, that simply goes against the principals of all vamp. movies. The body is dead, just pumping some blood back into it isn't going to bring you back to life-- see what I mean it is moments like that, that just grind against the good parts. The production looks mostly stylized and why it never really gets to the point of being creepy, or ominous-- you can tell it really tries to get there. The acting is very good, Bill Paxton gives a crazed performance as only he can do. And the rest of the cast hold their own. The special effects are typical Vamp movie effects, Karo-syrup blood and sun-light burnt skin. But one irritating thing, at no point do the Vamp's ever have fangs, they bite people, but no fangs?? Another moment that just grinded my nerves like nails against chalkboard.

-- Let's face it, there is only a couple of good vamp movies, Dracula, The Lost Boys, and Interview with a Vampire. to name a few. The rest are nuts, trying to recreate the vampire rules every time, some things can kill them, some things can't. It begins to become overwhelming. Unfortunately Near Dark falls into the bad category. At no point were the vamps, scary or even sexy in that shirtless Lestat ( Queen of the Dammed) way.
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