Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (of Point Break and Deep Impact fame), this vampire tale has become something of a cult classic since it was made back in 1987. Featuring a cast of mainly B-listers - with half of them lifted directly from the set of Aliens - we are introduced to Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar), a country-boy who one night is bitten on the neck by a beautiful, mysterious woman (Jenny Wright). It comes as no surprise when as the sun begins to rise, Caleb's skin starts to blacken and smoke, and he suddenly finds that he prefers the darkness...
Just as things are looking bad for our country bumpkin, a pack of drifters led by the menacing Jesse (played by Lance Henriksen and assisted by his previous Aliens counterparts Bill Paxton and Jenette Goldstein) swing by to rescue him from the sun. Thus ensues a tale of a man coming to terms with what he is, and a struggle between right and wrong as he resists the urge to kill for food, surrounded by a cutthroat band whose only goodness lies in the woman who bit him in the first place...
Near Dark is a curious movie. If you're expecting to see standard vampire fayre with all the usual clichés and trimmings then you'll either be disappointed or pleasantly surprised by this thoughtful offering from Bigelow. For there are no fangs in sight, no silver and not a whiff of garlic to be seen. And whilst there is violence and gore, it never feels like this is the driving force behind the movie.
It's an engaging if sedate movie in vampire terms, and the alternate take on the vampire myth makes it all the more refreshing. There are areas which don't quite work - the ending is nothing but predictable, and other elements jar somewhat (the transfusion sequence for example) but otherwise this is a satisfying, unique movie. Well worth watching.
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