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  • Near Dark
    • Near Dark
    • Runtime:94 min
    • Release Date:2014-10-02 10:20:44
    • Director: Kathryn Bigelow
    • Genres: Horror, Romance, Thriller
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Near Dark
Auhtor:

   

This is one of Big Kat's early efforts, and although it hasn't aged
exceptionally well it still holds up to scrutiny 20+ years later,
especially when compared to what passes for a Vampire film these days.

Caleb is your standard single cowboy in a small town, driving around at
night aimlessly and trying to pick up anything that moves with his
smooth cowboy talk.

One night though he meets waifish May, a teeny tiny chick with short
blond hair who looks like she weighs as much as a match with the wood
scraped off (one of my Dad's old sayings). After 45 seconds of
scintillating convo they're away in his truck into the night.

No hanky-panky mind you but their night of magic goes a little too long
for May's liking and she orders Caleb to take her home immediately,
seeming a little more than panicky in the process.

Taking advantage of the situation Caleb asks for a blackmail kiss or
the truck goes no further, May initially complies and draws a little
blood, but then changes tack and does a bolt, heading off on foot. For
some reason Caleb's truck won't restart so he too hoofs it for a while…
until he starts smoking, and I don't mean Camel Lights. As he nears
home with smoke billowing from all over him a van shows up and plucks
him off the road.

May is in the van, and it's meet the family time! Hopefully you can
guess by now that something is amiss in the goings on, so the news that
the "family" are all Vampires shouldn't really shock.

Jessie (Lance Henricksen from Aliens), Diamondback (Vasquez from
Aliens), Sever (Bill Paxton from Aliens, notice a trend here?) and
Homer, a young boy seemingly in his early teens who is to be frank a
bit of a d*ckhead.

After the intros May is chastised for picking up without consultation
and Caleb is told he has a week to learn the ropes or he's out.

From this point on Caleb tries to integrate himself into the Vampy
lifestyle without a lot of success, despite the best efforts of May to
help, and Caleb's Dad and little sister fang around the countryside
looking to find him. As with the Vampires though most of their efforts
are in vein… get it? ZIIIIINNNNNGGGG!!!! I feel like I'm 7 years old
again! The pivotal scene in the film has the new age family heading to
a local bar for a drink and a feed, so to speak. The scene runs for 12
minutes and lets Paxton ham it up big time as the gung-ho Sever, indeed
he is the best thing in the movie, but all good things must end and
when Caleb lets a victim go the family must rush off with the cops on
their tail and daylight a comin'.

Eventually both of Caleb's families end up in the same room, he must
make a choice with uncomfortable repercussions in either case and in
doing so he sets up a pretty good, albeit stock standard finale.

The old school cover from the late 80s early 90s VHS release had an
unrecognisable Bill Paxton coated in post-battle make up, he is
bloodied and basically seems to have had his head caved in. It was a
great cover, a little too great for me as I was about 14 when it came
out and gave the film a wide berth for a few years thinking it was an
over the top shlockfest, and unlike today's 14 year olds I wasn't fully
confident that I was ready for that.

While the film does have gory elements and indeed Paxton does get to
wear the cover makeup at one point, most of the film is carefully
plotted and well acted. It still most definitely isn't a film for young
kids, but it desires to be more than a simple Vampire eat-em-up, and
thanks to Big Kat it achieves that goal.

Final Rating – 8.5 / 10. Hasn't aged incredibly well, but still holds
up as an extremely effective little horror film that takes itself a
little more seriously than most.

|||

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Directly to the point: "Near Dark" worths your money and time, totally.
It's not a very conventional vampire movie but the fact that it doesn't
have many clichés about vampires doesn't means that we are watching a
movie about bloodsuckers. We don't see any crucifixes, garlic, mirrors,
but instead, we get guns, slith throats, motorcycles, and the most
sadistic and bad-ass vampires I've ever seen! Nosferatu, eat your heart
out.

Seriously, this is one of the most creative and atmospheric Horror
movies ever made. We have a few decent vampire flicks in the genre. I
won't mention Dracula because it's not the time. But I can clearly tell
you that "Near Dark" is superior than "The Lost Boys" and maybe "Fright
Night" (I write it with all the pain in my heart).

The best about "Near Dark" is that you can't compare it with anything.
I mean, it takes the vampire sub-plot into another level. We have a
beyond the grave love story that it becomes a tale of an impossible
love. It's not like "ahh I will wait to become a vampire in order to
make this work". That's BS! You know who I am referring to. Like I
wrote, even that we don't get clichés, in every single moment we know
the villains are vampires even that the word vampire is never mentioned
through the film.

But the best feature about "Near Dark" is the extraordinary, almost
artistic atmosphere. This is Terror inserted in art my friends. With a
big budget, Katherine Bigelow designed a perfect film in terms of
direction. The scenarios are desolating, scary, but at the same time
dynamic and covered in mysticism. This woman realizes a great job. The
budget is brought to it's maximum. The woman had an extraordinary
artistic vision and knows perfectly how to put it into a Horror movie.
There are just a few movies like this one.

Each scene is extremely, perfectly crafted. To the last detail. The
fact is that Bigelow doesn't mentions the "golden rules" of vampire
cinema, she just takes the chance to do whatever she wants. And it's
something amazing. We don't expect anything that happens. We get
sadistic vampires that act like criminals and if we "know" how to stop
them, it's just not predictable.

It's also very remarkable the mix of Western with glam vampires. Yes,
we're also into a Western movie. Caleb rides his horse, we get takes
from the desert, the sun setting, etc. A not so common combination that
works perfectly, believe me.

All of the takes are dynamic, artistic, spectacular. One of my favorite
scenes is when Caleb and Mae talk about the night. Pure poetry my
friends. It makes me want to live something similar. The atmosphere
makes you feel something special.

The scene that will always stay in my mind is the bar massacre. It's
violent, scary, brilliant, atmospheric, etc. It every moment it makes
you grab your seat waiting for Severen to control his violent temper.
It's one of the highlights of 80's Horror.

The shooting/raid in the motel also deserves a special mention.
Spectacular and bloody! When a movie like this one generates different
emotions in you, it means that we're in front of a perfectly created
and crafted work.

The plot is well delivered thanks to an intriguing continuity covered
by a beautiful and disturbing cinematography and detailed Art
Direction. The score from Tangerine Dream is simply surreal. It's one
of the most impressing pieces of action, suspense, and 80's vibe. For
some moments, the music fits perfectly with the almost nightmarish
reality that the lead character lives.

I rest my case with the intriguing song "The Cowboy Rides Away", a
delicious country song that figs into one of the most violent moments
in the movie.

"Near Dark" sets it's own rules. The acting is the most important
aspect of the movie. Katherine Bigelow took support from actors from
"Aliens". The "boss" Lance Henriksen delivers an extremely bad-ass
performance. His deep voice is amazing. I admire this man. He's perfect
as the wise, violent, but clever Jesse. Bill Paxton steals the show as
the sadistic-lunatic Severen, who in my opinion reminded me of Bill
Moseley's Chop Top. Paxton delivers a memorable performance. He just
gets your attention to the point that you will be looking at every
single of his moves. Also, he adds the necessary black humor for a plot
like this! Bill Paxton is used to be the secondary character that
steals the show and this time he doesn't fails! Without a doubt, the
duo Severen and Jesse is one of the most sadistic, cruel, and
charismatic in the history of Horror.

Janette Goldstein is perfect as Jesse's bitch. She's violent and adds
the necessary amount of obligatory sensuality. The guy that plays Homer
got into my nerves to the pint that I gave a standing ovation when he
was killed. Was about time!.

Adrian Pasdar is a great lead male. The man is attractive, good
looking, has plenty of charisma, good actor, and best of all, he's
believable. Jenny Wright is a total, major babe. I mean, you didn't
understand. She's a total hottie that should be considered as marriage
material. Delivers a decent performance although her character is the
romantic support only. She's delicate, cute, and she expresses it very
well.

Gore is beautiful, extraordinary. We get slith throats, burned skin by
sun (literally), wounds provoked by guns, brutal beatings, spilled
blood everywhere, neck bitings, be-headings, etc. Brilliant
exploitation of blood and gore!.

The Cinematography is extraordinary. Makes you feel in love with the
night. The highways, and more made me remember about passages in my
life.

I can't appreciate more "Near Dark"; one of the best vampire movies
ever.

|||

Near Dark is directed and written by Kathryn Bigelow with Eric Red also
credited for the screenplay. It stars Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright,
Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein & Bill Paxton. The score is provided
by Tangerine Dream and Adam Greenberg is the cinematographer.

A small Oklahoma town and Caleb Colton (Pasdar) meets Mae (Jenny
Wright), an attractive young drifter. They chat, they flirt and just
before sunrise she bites him on the neck before running away. Welcome
to your new vampire family Caleb……

It's now written in scripture that Bigelow's Vampire Western failed
miserably at the box office and quickly vanished into the shadow of
Joel Schumacher's popular Vampo piece, The Lost Boys. However, thanks
to VHS interest, the film refused to shrivel up and blow away when the
sun came up. Over the years the film has garnered a cult fan base and
been reappraised by many of the front line critics to great reviews. So
much so that now it's considered something of an enigmatic & poetic
classic that's directed by a hugely talented female director.

With its core story the film offers nothing new to the vampire
sub-genre. The blood as a drug/thirst motif was long ago penned by one
Bram Stoker. But Near Dark is not interested in traditional vampire
mythology, this is a modern spin where garlic, bats, crosses and stakes
are neither needed or thought about. In fact the word vampire is never
mentioned in the film. This is, all told, a film about the human side
of the night dwellers, we hop inside their blacked out bus and hit the
road; along with the confused and conflicted Caleb. What follows is
touches of savagery and touches of ethereal beauty-beauty that comes
not from Gothic touches, but from dusky Western surrounds. Photographer
Greenberg blending oater stylings with moody horror atmospherics, his
light work carrying a sexy sheen that dovetails smartly with the
"family" and their life when the sun has gone from the sky. It's
seductive, it's what Bigelow wanted and got, the mood created helps us
to understand how easy it was for Caleb to be drawn to Mae in the first
place.

That Bigelow chose to hire Greenberg {and to utilise him to the max}
obviously aids the film no end. That she surrounded herself with
quality character actors was something of a master stroke. This allowed
her to focus on the tone and flow of the piece, safe in the knowledge
that Messrs Henriksen (great character depth), Paxton (a bundle of film
stealing energy) and Goldstein (savvy) were carrying the film safely to
its Western style finale. Lest we forget the efforts of then unknowns
Pasdar & Wright, both pretty and perky, for they too instill their
characters with a warmth and tenderness that belies the blood shedding
that surrounds their coupling. It's also noteworthy that we are not
being asked to sympathise with the addiction plight of the "family,"
understand? Yes, but never sympathise. Even if the poetic noirish
beauty of it all can lure you nervously into its seductive arms and
make you feel at odds with your feelings.

Not many knew it at the time, but this was to be a hugely influential
film. One that now still shows aspiring newcomers to the sub-genre how
it should be done. 8/10

|||

This movie wasn't all that bad really. I can see why people didn't like
it but usually those who give one star reviews often pick technical
issues as their reasons like 'oh that could never happen in reality' or
certain continuity flaws and the like. I mean, they're watching a FILM
for God's sakes! They miss the point entirely IMHO. Films like this
aren't meant to be taken too seriously. I thought it was pretty bloody
funny in places and would've been a good film to take a date to. Yeah,
it did drag in places but Paxton was great and you could do worse than
I did and that was kill a couple of boring hours of the Sunday
afternoon void with this and a couple of cans of Stella.

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