• Rev Horror

Near Dark: Kathryn Bigelow's Western Vampire Classic

Dr. Kathryn Bigelow (1987)

Basically Cowboy Vampires: The Movie. Cowboy... motherfucking vampires.

It's been a long time since I've posted here, largely because I both started a new website (that has since disappeared into oblivion), started a new career (and graduated college as well!), and started several new jobs. I doubt posting here will be a regular thing, but I did enjoy it when I was posting, so we'll see where that takes us! Working night shifts is certainly bizarre at times, and it gives plenty of time, on slow nights, to both watch movies, write about them, and be supremely creeped out because I'm basically all alone in the dark. One thing I can say about the review I'm writing now, this movie did not creep me out in the slightest. That being said, it definitely might be worth a watch, depending on your taste. Kathryn Bigelow, Oscar-winning director and ex-wife of James Cameron, wanted to direct a western for her second-ever movie. You know what the American public wasn't interested in in the late 80's? Westerns. So she and the producers decided to mix genres and make a western/horror movie, the result of which was 1987's Near Dark, perhaps the best western vampire movie about a vampire band of outlaws whose "disease" can be cured by simple blood transfusion ever made. Seems like a simple fix, no? So the movie... ehhh, the movie wasn't amazing. It's not bad, for sure, and it's definitely worth a watch if you're interested in vampires or particularly well-made horror flicks. What makes it worth it, however, are the performances of Bill Paxton (or Pullman? Goddamnit, I can never remember which of these fuckers is which... It's definitely Paxton. Paxton is Twister, Pullman is Independence Day. I think.) and Lance Henriksen. Paxton is excellent as Severen, the "Billy the Kid" style vampire. Henriksen is awesome in every single thing he's ever been in, though my personal favorite was Millennium.

This may be from the wrong movie... Anyway, Paxton has some great lines in this one, as well as some incredibly cheesy ones, but he does a great job of just being menacing in a biker-gang sorta way. Henriksen does a great job of playing vampire Lance Henriksen. Nathan Petrelli from Heroes is not bad in a sort of clodhopper type role. Joshua John Miller is great as a child actor, his performance is pretty damn good for a kid. Near Dark is a cool character study in vampires who are not seeking victims, but family, and the lengths at which they will go to maintain their band of merry men (and women).

The best part of this film is the way in which Bigelow subverts the vampire tropes. No crosses, no religious angst, no dark flowing robes, no Christopher Lee in a cape. This is a straight up punk-styled western. For a new director who has generally strayed from the horror genre, Bigelow shows how good she's going to be by making a movie that she shouldn't have been able to make. Studio problems kept the movie from being a hit in its time, but it has developed the kind of cult following from which great horror movies are made. Bottom line: Worth a watch, decent vampire flick, and the movie is made by the bloodbath in the bar alone. I get why it's on the lists, and while the movie itself is meh, there are some iconic great scenes that make this one a classic.


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