Director – Katyryn Bigelow
Cast – Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, Tim Thomerson, Joshua John Miller, Marcie Leeds
Release Year – 1987
Reviewed by John of the Dead
The 1980s is well known and respected in the horror world due to the awesome, fun-to-watch slashers and monster flicks we were given during that decade. However the 80s also gave us a few fun vampire flicks as well that seem to get slightly overlooked thanks to the Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm street films. The classic vampire film Fright Night was followed by two other well known vampire flicks in that both were released in 1987. First came The Lost Boys, and then the equally good yet badly advertised film…Near Dark.
The film follows a mid-western farm boy named Caleb(Adrian Pasdar) who meets a lovely girl named Mae(Jenny Wright)one night. They quickly fall for each other and he soon realizes that she comes with more than he may have bargained for. Mae is a vampire, and is part of a group of group of vampires that drift from town to town in stolen vehicles and live in motels. Thanks to his attraction to Mae, he becomes entangled in this group of vampires and due to unfortunate events…is now turning into a vampire himself. However he must prove himself to the group, by taking on initiation acts that not only wind up deadly, but eventually involve the family he was forced to leave behind.
This seems to be the least known film of the “good” vampire films. This is due to the fact that DEG(the company that released the film) went bankrupt as they were releasing the film, and was not able to advertise very much, which may be why some of you have never heard of this awesome flick.
Anywho, I really enjoyed how the film gets started rather quickly, with some vampire acting kicking in about 10 minutes into the film. From then on out the film heads at good pacing, with some awesome displays of brutality and death at the hands of veteran horror actor Lance Hendrickson, as well as another horror actor…Bill Paxton. You may remember them both from the film Aliens, and Lance in the Pumpkinhead films and Bill in Frailty. All of which are pretty awesome horror films. :begins drooling: Bill plays the character Severen, a western badass who has way too much fun killing people. Lance plays the tough-as-nails leader of the group Jesse Hooker, who has been around for so long he “fought for the South”. Hehe. The “bar scene” in this film is regarded as one of the more infamous movie scenes in vampire lore, and rightfully so. We see the grit and grime attitudes of the ruthless group of vampires as the mock, and emotionally torture the patrons in the bar before they begin spilling blood all about the place. The core of this film is really a love story, and how Caleb must fight for the girl he wants to be with, as well as making sure that the well-being of his father and sister is not jeopardized due to them trying to track down the group of “natural born killers” that he is with. I like that conflict, don’t you? Also, this film is a rare gem due to the fact that is it directed by Kathryn Bigelow, a FEMALE! We do not see very many female directors in Hollywood, and EVEN LESS in the horror genre. I found this interesting and felt that she did a fine job despite only having a limited directoral resume at the time.
There is not too much I disliked about this film. The film is obviously a bit low budget, and I felt it skimped on the gore quite a bit aside from a few scenes towards the end. Personally I just wished that there was more going on. The plot was a bit simple, and although it was sufficient, a film like this that seems to be more conflict-oriented instead of “fun” needs to have more to the story than this film did. Oh well, I still enjoyed it just as much as Fright Night.