Revisiting 80’s Cult Classic Vampire Flick ‘Near Dark’

Alice Oscura, Featured Writer

Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead

Plot: During a night on the town, Caleb meets a mesmerising young woman named Mae. He immediately falls in love with her but finds himself drastically changed after a love bite from his beloved.

Review: Before Stephenie Meyer’s watered-down, twinkling in the sunlight, emo vampires there was 1987’s vampire cult classic Near Dark. While the film may have performed poorly at the box office it has managed to gain its own followers due to its unique method of using vampirism without fully paying homage to vampire lore. Categorised as a modern-day Western Horror it was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, best known for films such as Point Break (1991), The Hurt Locker (2008), and Zero Dark Thirty (2012). With Near Dark she managed to achieve an ethereal love story surrounded by psychotic, bloodsucking fiends without even mentioning the word vampires.

I can’t seem to quit you

Horror veteran Lance Henriksen stars as Jesse, the leader of a dysfunctional vampiric family alongside his lover Diamondback (Jenette Goldstein of Aliens, T2). Eighties heartthrob and future Heroes star Adrian Pasdar stars as Caleb Colton, a young man who meets the beautiful, enthralling Mae. They instantly fall in love but Mae bites Caleb and runs away after failing to control her bloodlust while they were kissing. As the sun rises, Caleb begins to feel the dangerous effects of the sun on his skin as the bloodlust infection takes hold.

The story that unfolds portrays the urge to feed on blood by metaphorically by comparing it to a sort of addiction that takes you further away from humanity and brings you closer to something savage. As a side note, the budding angsty love between Caleb and Mae is everything that the Twilight series should have been. The slow build eventually leads to the brutally iconic bar scene that gave late actor Bill Paxton (Severen) his moment to shine with his sadistic aggression. The bar patrons become the unsuspecting prey, as the bloodlust is unleashed with an intense, cold-blooded barbarity. Trust me that it’s one of those scenes that’s going to stick with you.

Is this a party or is this a PARTY?!

One aspect of the film that not everybody seems to agree on is the use of a blood transfusion to reverse the effects of vampirism. In my humble opinion, it works here strictly because there is significantly less emphasis on the supernatural nature of vampirism. Here it is dealt with more like a disease or infection, and the transfusion represents that ancient practice of bloodletting which was used not only to treat a variety of maladies but also to flush out tainted blood to prevent poisoning of the major organs.

At Near Darks climax Caleb has to try and save his little sister, Sarah, from the vampires’ clutches. It all culminates in Mae having to make a decision that can prove fatal. The last confrontation plays out almost like a purification by fire where Jesse’s entire surrogate family is vanquished except for Mae. She is ultimately rewarded for choosing the right side by being cured and we would like to think that she was able to stay with her beloved Caleb.

Don’t call yourself a punk rock fan if you can’t name this band

While Near Dark may not be everyone’s go-to vampire film, I think that it manages to succeed in placing ancient mythos into a gritty, raw, modern-day cultural setting without managing to lean heavily on the rose-colored versions of this century’s vampires. It is currently available on Shudder’s streaming service.

Alice’s Score: 7.5 out of 10

So are you a fan of Near Dark? What’s your favourite scene? And you can sate your bloodlust for vampire content by sinking your teeth into more reviews below:

Revisiting All Three ‘From Dusk till Dawn’ Films in 3 Bites

Top 10 Ugliest/Scariest Movie Vampires (featuring Moviejunkies)

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Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump. I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. Read More