Updated: Oct 7, 2021
Before The Hurt Locker, Strange Days & Point Break, Kathryn Bigelow made one of the most original vampire movies of the 80’s & maybe ever.
Instead of the usual debonair bloodsuckers, the vamps of Near Dark are grungy, feral drifters, cruising the highways of rural America in a beat up RV with blacked out windows.
But it’s also a love story between a farm boy Caleb & Mae, the vamp who bewitches (be-vamps?) him. Once he is drawn into the family of vagabond blood suckers, he is threatened by Bill Paxton’s wild card Severen, Lance Henriksen’s Jesse & Jennette Goldstein’s Diamondback, with the Aliens vets putting their obvious chemistry to great use here.
Bigelow crafts a western-horror road movie pastiche following the gang as they roam the country, chasing food & fleeing the sun. Few vampire films convey their stark fear of the sun & it’s violent effects. The vamps are always covered in a black char from their scrapes with the sun, adding an extra layer of grime.
The bar room massacre is a highlight, with Paxton at his menacing best, riling up the locals before tearing them to shreds. Caleb & Mae are the soul of the film & the resolution to their story is affecting & introduces a new angle of vampire lore that I hadn’t seen done before this film.
Having not watched this since the late 80’s I was blown away by how well it played for me now, a thrilling, grimy, shit kicking film with heart.
5 flaming vamps out of 5.