Near Dark (1987)

R   |    |  Action, Crime, Drama


Near Dark (1987) Poster

A small-town farmer's son reluctantly joins a traveling group of vampires after he is bitten by a beautiful drifter.


7/10
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  • Joshua John Miller in Near Dark (1987)
  • Near Dark (1987)
  • Bill Paxton in Near Dark (1987)
  • Near Dark (1987)
  • Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen in Near Dark (1987)
  • Bill Paxton in Near Dark (1987)

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9 August 2010 | hitchcockthelegend
8
| Howdy. I'm gonna separate your head from your shoulders. Hope you don't mind none.
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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Details

Release Date:

1988

Language

English


Country of Origin

USA

Filming Locations

Eloy, Arizona, USA

Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$635,789 4 October 1987

Gross USA:

$3,369,307

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,369,307

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