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October 4th: Near Dark (1987)

This post is the fourth in my 31 Days of Vampires! series for October 2014.

Near Dark (1987) - bill paxton

I had the singular pleasure of watching Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark knowing almost nothing about it. Over the years I’d spied a few images from the film now and then, and knew it concerned vampires – but knew nothing else.

And I’m glad. In fact, if you’re reading here and haven’t yet seen this movie – reconsider reading my comments. If you have any interest at all in the vampire genre, noir, romance, or dark Westerns – stop reading and get a copy of this film right away.

This twenty-seven year old film has aged gracefully. It is dark, romantic, heroic – and of course, at times, genuinely spooky. I enjoyed the sparse and effective dialogue, an atmospheric score (by Tangerine Dream) punctuating a Romeo-and-Juliet romance – and, best of all, a rollicking and ill-fated week on the run with some unique desperadoes. The film’s pacing cannot be improved upon, and the run-time is bisected by a deliciously-choreographed barroom scene both sexy and horrifying that steps deftly through four songs on a jukebox with effortless precision.

The actors are charismatic and sexy – full stop. There is a flavor for everyone out there – Jenette Goldstein as Diamondback is maternal and sexy as hell*, and Bill Paxton in his over-the-top role is simply a delight. But all the principals in the film – the vampires (although the film never names them as such), the protagonist, the family searching for the protagonist – are rendered as carefully as if the writer loved each one dearly.

And finally – the film isn’t too “messagey”, but one comes away reflecting on it for a couple days. In the pack of vampires we have the most functional and loving family the eighties may have put to celluloid – and also the most depraved, as each vampire turned another out of a selfish loneliness. The outlaws are all doomed, of course – but in the style of the best noir-Westerns, we can’t yet know how and have to ride it out until sunset.

Or in this case – sunrise.

Did I enjoy Near Dark? Oh, just about more than I’ve enjoyed any film recently. I get the feeling I’ll be visiting it time and time again.

Near Dark (1987) - poster

* The Saturn-winning actress now runs a full-figure lingerie shop in L.A. sporting the motto, “The alphabet begins at ‘D’.” I am in love!

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