Near Dark (1987)
March 1, 2015 7:02 PM - Subscribe

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

NY Times: Is ''Near Dark'' a mainstream commercial movie, tinged with blood, about an Oklahoma farm boy seduced and abducted by vampires? Or is it a fast-money thriller with artsy photography, about rowdy bloodsuckers who live like bikers and drive by night?

The Dissolve, After Near Dark Bigelow Crystalized Her Obsessions with Blue Steel: Near Dark deals with a recurring theme for Bigelow: a group of outsiders whose obsessiveness and shared mission bonds them together, even as it separates them from the rest of society. In this case, the outsiders are separated on a biological level as well. They’re a group of vampires who travel across the country, scouring shitty bars, truck stops, and honkytonks for humans to feast upon, or turn into vampires.

80's Movies Rewind: Possibly the secret to the success of the movie is Bigelow's refusal to pay too much attention to the vast amount of modern vampire lore.

The AV Club: Since vampires are rooted in European upscale decadence, with its castles and noblemen and milk-skinned virgins in strained bodices, Bigelow goes to great lengths to strip away the fineries and situate Near Dark firmly in low-down Americana. Our first glimpse of Caleb, the sensitive shit-kicker played by Adrian Pasdar, is quintessentially American: A handsome chap in a cowboy hat, cigarette dangling from his lips, leaning up against a ragged old pickup truck. Though he swills some beer with his redneck buddies, he's more of a James Dean type, with soft eyes and a way with the ladies; no average cowboy is given to wistful pronouncements like "Wish I may, wish I might, wish I was a thousand miles from here tonight." Mae (Jenny Wright) appears to him as if summoned from a fairy tale, a pixie-ish beauty in boots and a pair of ragged jeans belted by a piece of rope, working on a soft-serve cone.

See the cast of Near Dark then and now.


It's Finger-lickin' Good.

Soundtrack by Tangerine Dream on YouTube!
posted by MoonOrb (9 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Caleb: How old are you?
Jesse: Let's put it this way: I fought for the South.
Caleb: South?
Jesse: We lost.
posted by figurant at 7:45 PM on March 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

How does it hold up? I watched it many times when it first came out, but I've hesitated watching it again with the fear my memory is better than the movie.

"I hate it when they don't shave..."
posted by beowulf573 at 8:16 PM on March 1, 2015

The night's so bright, it'll blind you.

This movie is amazing for many reasons, not the least of which is the cast reunion from Aliens.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:17 PM on March 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

The word vampire keeps being used above. Not in the movie.
posted by phearlez at 8:44 PM on March 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure how I managed it, but I only saw this movie a couple of years ago - it's very very of its era, and full of fun.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:39 AM on March 2, 2015

This is a horror movie favorite, and it's one that I keep recommending to people because it seems like almost nobody I talk to has seen it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:59 AM on March 2, 2015

Also, for Vampire: the Masquerade fans, Near Dark used to get cited back in the day as the direct inspiration for the creation of the vicious, inhuman Sabbat.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:00 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

How does it hold up? I watched it many times when it first came out

Having just rewatched for the first time in many years (although I also watched it a bunch way back when) . . . . . . it holds up well, I'd say.

There's some over-acting (Paxton in particular seems to be aiming for the Nick Cage Award, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't), and the makeup's a little low-budget, and the soundtrack is great except when it swerves into very 80's "rock" (sometimes at odd moments).

But there's a nice balance between atmosphere and action, and some excellent moody cinematography, and a lot of very good directing/acting using body language and facial expressions rather than dialogue (for a lot of Caleb & Mae's interactions most of their emotions are expressed through movement as much if not more than words), and the plot holds together pretty well, and the character of Jesse was made for Lance Henriksen.

It's definitely worth a rewatch if you haven't seen it in a while.

If you don't mind some spoilery things, the AV Club article pretty well nails the themes and how they're expressed through the film.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:58 PM on March 4, 2015

the character of Jesse was made for Lance Henriksen.

Apparently he stayed in character between shots, which at one point nearly started a bar fight or something similar.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:38 PM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

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