Bill Paxton as Severen in Near Dark (1987)

Bigelow's Vampire Hookers

They say too much sun can be bad for you, that is most certainly the case for the vampires in Kathryn Bigelow's 80s vampire movie "Near Dark" as a small dose of sun has some catastrophic affects. To be honest I'd never heard of "Near Dark" before watching it but the combination of Bigelow and several familiar faces such as Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen and Jenette Goldstein tempted me and I am glad they did. Here we have a vampire movie, although it has to be said the word vampire is never uttered once in the entire movie, which looks low budget but then delivers some brilliant special effects and feels like it's drawn on the western genre in creating a storyline about a young man who finds himself reluctantly joining a family of blood suckers who terrorise people during the night.

Late one night farm hand Caleb Cotton (Adrian Pasdar - Top Gun) spots the attractive stranger Mae (Jenny Wright - St. Elmo's Fire) lingering around town and like many a young man chances his arm with her as he takes her for a drive. But as night begins to turn to day Mae, who unbeknown to Caleb is a vampire, becomes panicky and forced to kiss him to get home ends up sinking her fangs into his neck. Having become a vampire Caleb finds himself being looked after by Mae's family the Hookers who insist that if he is going to stay he is going to have to learn to kill to get his own blood something which he struggles to do, relying on Mae to feed him.

Adrian Pasdar as Caleb Colton in Near Dark (1987)

Whilst you would usually associate Vampires with the horror genre it has to be said that "Near Dark" is more of an action movie. And like with most action movies the actual storyline in "Near Dark" is actually quite simple, with an obvious western influence. That western influence comes in the form of the Hooker family, this mismatched bunch of vampires who terrorise towns during the night, killing to survive and having fun doing it. There is no sneaking around but a bunch of people who blatantly stroll into a bar and cause trouble before draining their victims of blood and we are not talking just thangs in the neck. Nope this family slit throats and poor blood into glasses to drink.

But that is just one side of "Near Dark" as on the other you have Caleb who having got a vampire hicky off of the attractive Mae turns and the Hookers are forced to treat him like one of theirs as long as he learns to kill. This learning to kill leads to most of the action as they encourage him to murder often protected by Mae when he is incapable of doing the dirty deed. And on top of this you have Mae's sister and father who are looking for him after his sudden disappearance. Yes if you can guess these two elements the Hooker's blood thirsty ways and Caleb's family end up interlinking leading Caleb to make an important decision.

The thing is that "Near Dark" has a surprisingly good storyline; it's simple but very well paced and leads nicely to all the moments of action. And for what looks like a low budget movie the action is surprisingly good especially the visual effects such as the Hooker's catching on fire when they get caught in a beam of sunlight. But it's not just the visual effects which are stunning there is also a level of violence as we watch the Hooker's kill and just thinking about a scene where vampire Severen swings his leg like a pendulum to slash a throat with his spurs still brings chills. It certainly makes "Near Dark" a very memorable vampire movie and one which to be honest deserves to be better known.

As for the acting well whilst Adrian Pasdar as Caleb and Jenny Wright as Mae are the leads with their romantic liaison leading to Caleb turning it is the more well known faces who steal the movie. Lance Henriksen is just wonderful as Jesse Hooker the leader of the vampires and has this very laid back evil streak and Jenette Goldstein is just as evil as his wife. But it is Bill Paxton as Severen who makes the biggest impact with his relentless evilness; you really feel that Severen gets off on killing as much as he does drinking blood. And there is almost something Terminator like about him in his relentlessness especially in a scene where his face is half burned off and he is clinging to a front of a lorry.

What this all boils down to is that "Near Dark" is a surprisingly good movie which looks like a B movie but ends up so much more. It's more action than horror with its story about Vampires but what a great action movie it is as we watch the Hooker family go on their night time killing sprees slaughtering people with a joy. And whilst this action comes from a romantic storyline between an innocent called Caleb and a vampire called Mae "Near Dark" is by no means some soppy romantic vampire movie.

Tags: Vampire Movies