Long before Kathryn Bigelow was the talk of Hollywood with hits like Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker, she was cutting her directorial teeth on a little vampire flick called Near Dark (1987). Well, we assume it’s about vampires because that word is never even mentioned once. That same year, everyone was talking about the other vampire movie, The Lost Boys. Unfortunately, DEG (DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group) studios went bankrupt and had very little money for publicity. Therefore, the movie came and went quickly. However, as was becoming the new world of film at that time, there was life after cinema death on the burgeoning VHS rental market.
Near Dark offers a look at a roaming band of misfits thrown together as a loose family as they all seek one thing…blood. Caleb (Adrian Pasdar, Heroes) has a desire to leave his small town and watches an unusual girl named Mae (Jenny Wright, Twister) come out of a bar. Before the night is through, Caleb is bitten and begins to realize she was more than just a little strange. As he races home in the morning light, his flesh begins to burn. As his sister and father watch from the distance, a motor home drives up and takes him away. Inside, Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen, Pumpkinhead) is the leader of this ragtag group that includes Severen (Bill Paxton, Twister and Aliens), Diamondback (Jenette Goldstein, Aliens) and Homer (Joshua Miller, Halloween III: Season of the Witch). Mae begs for Caleb’s life and Jesse allows him to stay but he has to kill first. Caleb resists his new life and when his dad (Tim Thomerson, Trancers) stumbles across him, Caleb gets a new lease on a life thanks to a blood transfusion. However, Jesse and the gang aren’t far behind and they want revenge on Caleb and his family.
It’s been a long time since I watched Near Dark but it still stands as good vampire flick, even if they never refer to themselves as that. The roaming gypsies theme fits quite well and both Paxton and Henriksen chew up the scenery in true fashion. Some intense scenes involving the burning sun stand out as one of the few traditional vampire myths included. Highly recommended! The DVD seems a bit high priced but there are different versions, so shop around. It is also out on Blu-ray but the new cover is quite annoying. It clearly tries to capitalize on the Twilight series and this movie most definitely is not that, as the trailer clearly shows.