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Near Dark (1987)
Written by Kathryn Bigelow & Eric Red Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
When given the opportunity to choose her own cast, Kathryn Bigelow decided to get the okay from fellow partner James Cameron in bringing along the trio of Bill Paxton (Severen), Lance Henriksen (Jesse) and Jenette Goldstein (Diamond Back). Who had just worked with all three previously on Aliens in the preceding year. Bigelow believing that the already repertoire would only carry over in a film where each background was not necessarily important, but in which the structure of the family was intended to be what carried over foremost. Laying the groundwork and given the opportunity to direct her first film solo, Kathryn co-wrote the script with Eric Red; having decided they would each do something they could make relatively back to back.
Taking western connotations, though removing any gothic elements typically known in Dracula’s universe made room for a new interpretation within the genre. The before mentioned traveling with May (Jenny Wright) and Homer (Joshua John Miller). Though only given snippets of information, each recalled, complained or digressed as they roamed about the night; engaged in a constant fight for their survival. Each owning different powers yet sure not to flaunt or boast of such; merely used as survival tactics. Finding that while Homer had been the one to turn May and taught her everything she knew, there was little hope for the 40 year old trapped within the 12 year olds body. Ultimately catching Caleb’s (Adrian Pasdar) attention with the art of the lure following suit. Asking for a ride home yet pleading with him to stop and listen to what called her, unsure of whether another could appreciate the small gift placed within her curse.
Seductively maneuvering a lethal kiss that would lead to the introduction of the family full-on; Severen pleading to be the one who took Caleb’s life. The others making it quite known that any loyalty would have to be earned. Given the next week in order to prove such as he traveled with them, waiting to obtain his first taste of blood. All the while Caleb’s father Loy (Tim Thomerson) and sister Sarah (Marcie Leeds) had witnessed his capture and remained on the road until meeting up by chance later at a motel right before dawn. Everything changing as Homer believed to have found a second chance at finding a mate, the four years since turning May not fairing as intended. A thin line dividing the bunch as Caleb fought to save his family, whose only intention was getting him some help. Thought to otherwise be an impossibility until the suggestion of bloodletting is made; finding the results to be rather daunting. Their journey far from over as the taste for blood wasn’t as thick as their hand at revenge.
Certainly where it may have lost its audience a bit as the story becomes full developed and the characters begin to weaken. Their once structured family easily torn apart as selfishness became too much for some to handle. Because while the story was refreshing and certainly a new aspect to the genre, not so much as even stating the V (vampire) word at any given point. It was the characters, especially Paxton’s Severen, that are what make the movie memorable. The bar scene, ah yes, easily the best scene and whys that. Besides the numerous quotes readily available, there’s a reality in a group of strangers approaching some hole in the wall bar planning to play with these strangers, no intent of survivors, that’s pretty frightening. How they each took turns, showing their capabilities, Paxton’s ever great heckling. Henrikson, with his enigmatic voice and way of ensuring every person played their part accordingly. Having turned Diamond Back long ago, (who was as merciless as she was striking) she acted as mother to Homer, whose heart couldn’t take breaking a second time. Sacrificing himself in the end rather than admitting defeat. But besides being a bit slow at times, it’s the aesthetics behind the film that were most impressive. The thought put into the process being why this film can still resonate with so many horror fans. Where its in the dead of the night when the morbid creatures we may fear or become fascinated with come out to play. Whether by necessity or need, they remain a topic of interest for their allure and capability to change so, erratically, throughout the years. Churning out this western themed vampire flick that really just ends up some average romantic drama about five weirdoes with an affinitive flair for hickies.