The vampire genre is thrown on its gothic head and picks up a couple of spurs and a ten-gallon hat when it gets back up. The filmmakers call it a western vampire story. I like to call it a “Redneck Vampire Flick”, and this epitomizes what is the first, last and finest of the Western Vampire genre. Boy meets girl. Girl is pretty and different. Girl is a vampire. Girl bites boy. Girl turns boy. Boy must join this merry band of gypsy outlaws and make a kill or be killed. He is after all one of the living dead and needs to consume blood to survive.
A mighty purty lookin’ Mae (Jenny Wright) feels alone and wants a companion to spend the rest of eternity with. When she and her band of merry vamps wander through hicksville USA, a young buck named Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) spots her eating an ice cream cone. She sticks out in this sleepy ol’ farm town and Caleb takes an immediate fancy to her. They go out for a ride to talk and make out in his truck. She longs to make him hers and with a bite to his neck, the deed is done. He has been turned, but in order to become a full-fledged card carrying vampire, he must make a kill on his own. Every gang has their initiation rights, even Redneck Vampires. The only problem is that killing does not come easy to Caleb, and there is only so much blood that Mae can give of herself, before she dies. If he cannot step up to the plate to take that first bite and make a solo kill, the rest of the family of blood fiends are prepared to dine on a Caleb buffet.
Near Dark is chock full of rich atmosphere and stark beautiful cinematography. I love those backlit-silhouetted shots of the clan walking over a hill and entering town, looking for some fresh blood to drink. The film has some funny moments of humor of the darkest kind, but this movie is not played for laughs. The film is essentially a love story. You can really feel the longing and loneliness in Mae’s life. Jenny Wright is so wonderful in this role, it makes you wonder what ever happened to her and why did she give up acting. Director Kathyrn Bigelow and Writer Eric Red have created quite an interesting revisionist version of this well-known genre and created a realistic western vampire love story. The characters in this film are so memorable; you will be fondly daydreaming about them for days. Well, at least I did. How can you ever forget these bloodsucking freaks?
1. Jesse (Lance Henriksen): Leader/Father figure of this band of gypsies.
2. Diamondback (Jeanette Goldstein): Firecracker of a gal, with motherly instincts when it comes to her young’ns.
3. Severen (Bill Paxton): Loves to kill, and loves to fuck with people while killing them. Becoming a Vampire was the best thing that ever happened to him.
4. Mae (Jenny Wright): Beautiful, beguiling and longing for companionship.
5. Homer (Joshua John Miller): Turned by Mae as a boy out of lonliness. Now he is a man trapped in a child’s body and none too happy about it!
The DVD is a special edition that comes with lots of extras. The new 45-minute documentary has brought back the most of the cast with the exception of a M.I.A. Jenny Wright. Even Adrian Pasdar shouts out a plea for her to contact him if she sees this or hears of this documentary. The Directors Commentary is slow, but informative. Most fans of the film have been waiting for this disk for a long time, and it was well worth the wait.
Near Dark (1987)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Length: 94 mins.
Format: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Extras: Commentary Track, Retrospective Documentary, Deleted Scene, Trailers, Storyboards, Galleries, Screenplay, Screen Savers