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  • Rev Horror

Near Dark

Dr. Kathryn Bigelow (1987)

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


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.

Who this movie is for: Cult classic fans, Vampire movie lovers, Cowboys who suck blood 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. Bigelow is just as good as advertised, however, and Henriksen and Paxton are stellar as always.

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