Throw Back Thursday review of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1987 vamp flick “Near Dark”
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Long before she was winning academy awards with “The Hurt Locker”, when she was still a few years away from directing Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in one of the great action films of the 90s, Kathryn Bigelow sunk her teeth (pun intended) into the horror genre with “Near Dark”. It is no surprise that in her solo-directorial debut Bigelow, never one to shy away from making her films dark and gritty, made one of the most brutal vampire films of the 80s (or any decade for that matter). I remember watching “Near Dark” for the first time, when I was 13 and sleeping over at my best friend’s house, and not getting a wink of sleep that night. “That was one of the scariest movies I have ever seen” we both said, in unison, as the credits rolled. Well… it is 23 years later, and I figured it was high time for me to revisit this visceral vamp flick.
The story in “Near Dark” is about the love between human Caleb (Pasdar) and creature of the night Mae (Wright). Once the two of them get physical, Mae gives Caleb true love’s bite, and he is brought into the fold of her blood-sucking gang. The problem is that Jesse (Henriksen), Severin (Paxton), Diamondback (Goldstein) and Homer (Joshua John Miller) are as twisted and violent a gang as you can imagine. The juxtaposition between their brutality and the sweetness of Caleb and Mae’s blossoming love is one of the things that make the movie unforgettable. That and the now genre-classic bar scene!
Bigelow’s “Vampires” are a different breed. They do not share many recognizable traits with their vampire ancestors Count Orlock or Dracula. There is no religious war or feud with other vampire clans for them.They are after one simple thing… violent, bloody carnage. Solid performances all around, blended with a gritty Western atmosphere make “Near Dark” truly one of the more original vampire movies ever. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it soon. It is good old fashion bloody fun, and it is streaming on Amazon right now!