Near Dark (1987)

Rating: C+

Dir: Kathryn Bigelow
Star: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton

One of the canonical 80’s vampire flicks, this one is still a fondly-remembered cult movie but, in truth, is something of a letdown. While there are a couple of fabulous scenes, which probably explain why it has not been forgotten, the rest of the movie is an uneasy combination of AIDS parable, vampire movie, Western and gangsploitation. Caleb (Pasdar) is a small-town cowboy who falls in with Mae (Wright), only to find it’s a case of “once bitten, twice fry”, as sunlight now makes him smoke like Texas barbeque. And she’s the nice one of her clan, led by Jesse (Henriksen) who is very sprightly for his age – “I fought for the South”, as he puts it.

This came out a couple of months after The Lost Boys, and is almost radially opposite in approach, preferring rural, C&W grunge to urban, neon esplanades. The main problem here is Pasdar, whose lack of charisma is obvious, and made worse by a reliance on brooding atmosphere. For long periods, not much actually happens, and the “solution” for vampirism in Bigelow and Eric Red’s script is ridiculously naive. However, when it kicks off, we get the scenes mentioned earlier – a bar-room slaughter and a motel shootout – which have more menace and tension than the rest of the film put together. These two sequences will stick in your mind long after the (kinda tedious) other 85 minutes have long gone.