Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
A young man named Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) meets a random girl named Mae (Jenny Wright). He finds her attractive and offers her a ride, but when it turns out she's actually a vampire, she bites Caleb, turning him into an undead soul. He is forced to join her gang of vampires, led by an ancient vampire named Jesse (Lance Henriksen), as they travel the country feeding on people.
In 1987, two films came out about vampire gangs, each revolving around a normal guy lured into the undead coven by a seductive woman. The first was Joel Schumacher's "The Lost Boys," the second was Kathryn Bigelow's directorial debut called "Near Dark." In the showdown at the box office, "The Lost Boys" was the clear winner, making more its opening weekend than "Near Dark" did in its entire box office run, which was 1/10th of "The Lost Boys" box office total. Since then, this film has gathered a bit of a cult following among horror fans. It stars Adrian Pasdar as Caleb, a farmer's son who falls for the wrong girl. Jenny Wright, who plays Mae the vampire, lures Caleb into her gang/family of bloodsuckers, consisting of Lance Henricksen, Jenette Goldstein, Bill Paxton, and Joshua John Miller. These vampires travel around the country roaming under the cover of night looking to find their next victims, all while having some fun as they do it.
"Near Dark" has a very cool look and feels like a mix between a modern horror film and a western. It is very well shot with great moments of horrific action. Much of the focus of the movie is on Caleb and his struggles with changing into a vampire, as well as his resistance to becoming a killer and his quest to get back home to his family. However, if he doesn't drink blood, he won't survive, but killing will take away what little humanity he has left. It's an interesting aspect of the vampire sub-genre, but as we said above, in the year that made "The Lost Boys," which we think is the better of the two movies, director Kathryn Bigelow tries to put a little bit of a different spin on a similar, familiar story. That being said, we can't really say the acting is anything fantastic here. One of our favorites, Bill Paxton, goes way over-the-top with his character, but it's all in good fun at the end of the film. There is also some solid makeup work implemented on our vampire antagonists. Dripping blood, flappy skin, fangs, the whole nine. The special effects consist of so many explosions, it'll leave you wondering if Bigelow went to the Michael Bay School of Blowing Shit Up. Her effects would for sure make him envious, particularly the one that comes at the final moments of the movie.
Though nowhere near perfect, "Near Dark" is still fun to watch for the cheesy and outrageous nature of the vampires in this story. There are some redeeming qualities, though we prefer other vampire tales to this one.
My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 88%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were being scared by: "The Haunting of Helena"
Two years ago, we were being scared by: "The Haunting of Whaley House"
Three years ago, we were being scared by: "The Clown Murders"