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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on February 29, 2004
"Near Dark" has only two flaws:
(1) Joshua Miller, the bratty kid you wanted to slap in the face in "River's Edge", plays a bratty vampire, and you want to slap him in the face in this movie, too.
(2) The soundtrack by Tangerine Dream does not hold up well. It stinks. It is almost distractingly bad at times.
That said, the rest of the movie is awesome. Using a great chunk of the cast from "Aliens" (Bill Paxton, Lance Henrickson, and Jeanette Goldstein) was a stroke of genius. Their chemistry together, which was so good in that movie, proves to be even more devilish good fun in "Near Dark", featuring the trio as a nomadic group of dustbowl vampires. Paxton fans in particular will be delighted by his goofy, scenery-chewing character. Adrian Pasdar does a great job too, as a hick named Caleb who is kidnapped by the group after one of its other members, a sweet young thang named Mae (the lovely Jenny Wright), takes a liking to him and nibbles on his neck.
The special effects are outstanding. There are some genuine spine-tingling moments that you will remember for a long time. Especially the "roadhouse massacre" scene, which gives us big laughs, gross-out gore, and some good scares as well. This scene alone rightfully earns "Near Dark" its spot (on my list, anyway) as one of the most genre-twisting, intelligent, and all-out entertaining horror flicks of all time. The DVD extras are great, too. You won't be disappointed. "Near Dark" is certainly worth buying for any serious horror film collector.
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Katherine Bigelow reportedly wanted to create an old-fashioned Western movie... mixed with a vampire romance. The result was something that could have been a disaster.

Instead "Near Dark" is a deeply underappreciated little cult movie, which demonstrates that talent and originality in vampire movies isn't quite gone. Bigelow smoothly intertwines eerie otherworldliness with a grimy, gritty Western flavour, and spreads the resulting atmosphere over a clever, tightly-written script and some solid acting from Adrian Pasdar and Jenny Wright.

Small-town boy Caleb (Pasdar) encounters an ethereal young woman named Mae (Wright) on the street one night. They seem to be shyly hitting it off... until she bites him and leaves.

Before Caleb knows it, the sun literally causes his skin to burn, and he's been yanked into the RV of a gang of vampire drifters -- Mae among them. They're a pretty mean bunch, and even their leader Jessie Hooker (Lance Henriksen) gives him only one week to prove himself. But Caleb refuses to give in to "instinct" by drinking blood and killing his victims, which causes some problems.

Meanwhile, Caleb's father (Tim Thomerson) and the local police are searching for the missing young man -- and when Caleb manages to save the vampires from the cops, they finally accept him. But then one of them develops a crush on Caleb's kid sister Sarah, and Caleb finds himself torn between his strange new life and his family's safety. Even if he can somehow be cured of his vampirism, can he hope to destroy an entire bloodsucker gang out to kill him?

"Near Dark" is one of those cult movies that doesn't have a big enough cult -- it gets overshadowed by other 1980s vampire movies like "Interview with the Vampire" and "The Lost Boys," despite having little in common with them. The vampires in it are dirty, amoral, trashy and casually cruel as only human beings freed from mortality and law can be ("Remember that fire we started in Chicago?") -- which is an all-too-probable result if someone were to become a vampire.

And Bigelow gives the movie a unique atmosphere, setting it in the grimy, dusty small towns of Oklahoma and filling it with blood, guns and nighttime streets -- in fact if it didn't have vampires, you'd think it was a coming-of-age tale about falling in with a bad crowd. But there are also a number of sweet romantic scenes, which are all the more striking because they don't get over-the-top or cheesy.

And there's a quiet, understated visual power to Bigelow's directing style, whether it's Caleb tottering across a field with smoke pouring from his clothes, or an erotic blood-drink against a pumping oil rig on a lightning-filled night. And her script is a pretty solid one as well, with excellent dialogue ranging from the quietly beautiful ("... I'll still be here when the light from that star gets down here to earth...") to macabrely funny ("It's finger-lickin' GOOD!").

Pasdar is intense and gutsy as a nice young country boy who has the misfortune to get turned into a vampire against his will, and Wright is wispily endearing as the only vampire who sympathizes with him. Some of the supporting vampires get kind of 2-D and over-the-top at times, but Henriksen does an outstanding job as their weary, battle-scarred leader, and Joshua John Miller does a good job as a vampire trapped in a little boy's body.

"Near Dark" is a darker, grittier brand of vampire movie, and while it's blessed with solid acting, brilliant direction and snappy script, the unique slant on vampires is one of the best parts.
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on September 12, 2002
I LOVE this movie. I saw this movie for the 1st time a LONG time ago and was blown away! I rented it a couple of times, then it seemed impossible to find. When I bought my DVD player about 2 years ago, this was the 1st movie I tried to find. Almost 2 years later I saw that it was finally coming out on DVD. When I got it I called my husband and told him he was in for a real treat, I was coming home with the MOVIE. Within the 1st 15 minutes I became VERY aware that this movie has been chopped up. ALL of the blood, violence and gore that made this movie what it is was GONE! Yes, CUT OUT! Gone! The bar scene was butchered! All the scenes were cut, gone, not in the movie anymore. WHY?? Who did this to a classic film. I want to know who is responsible and they should re-release this movie with ALL of the scenes put back in!!
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Katherine Bigelow reportedly wanted to create an old-fashioned Western movie... mixed with a vampire romance. The result was something that could have been a disaster.

Instead "Near Dark" is a deeply underappreciated little cult movie, which demonstrates that talent and originality in vampire movies isn't quite gone. Bigelow smoothly intertwines eerie otherworldliness with a grimy, gritty Western flavour, and spreads the resulting atmosphere over a clever, tightly-written script and some solid acting from Adrian Pasdar and Jenny Wright.

Small-town boy Caleb (Pasdar) encounters an ethereal young woman named Mae (Wright) on the street one night. They seem to be shyly hitting it off... until she bites him and leaves.

Before Caleb knows it, the sun literally causes his skin to burn, and he's been yanked into the RV of a gang of vampire drifters -- Mae among them. They're a pretty mean bunch, and even their leader Jessie Hooker (Lance Henriksen) gives him only one week to prove himself. But Caleb refuses to give in to "instinct" by drinking blood and killing his victims, which causes some problems.

Meanwhile, Caleb's father (Tim Thomerson) and the local police are searching for the missing young man -- and when Caleb manages to save the vampires from the cops, they finally accept him. But then one of them develops a crush on Caleb's kid sister Sarah, and Caleb finds himself torn between his strange new life and his family's safety. Even if he can somehow be cured of his vampirism, can he hope to destroy an entire bloodsucker gang out to kill him?

For some reason, the DVD edition of "Near Dark" has a cover that makes it look like a cheap knockoff of "Twilight." That's massively unjust, because it's a complete misrepresentation of what this movie is about. And the vampires in it are dirty, amoral, trashy and casually cruel as only human beings freed from mortality and law can be ("Remember that fire we started in Chicago?") -- which is an all-too-probable result if someone were to become a vampire.

And Bigelow gives the movie a unique atmosphere, setting it in the grimy, dusty small towns of Oklahoma and filling it with blood, guns and nighttime streets -- in fact if it didn't have vampires, you'd think it was a coming-of-age tale about falling in with a bad crowd. But there are also a number of sweet romantic scenes, which are all the more striking because they don't get over-the-top or cheesy.

And there's a quiet, understated visual power to Bigelow's directing style, whether it's Caleb tottering across a field with smoke pouring from his clothes, or an erotic blood-drink against a pumping oil rig on a lightning-filled night. And her script is a pretty solid one as well, with excellent dialogue ranging from the quietly beautiful ("... I'll still be here when the light from that star gets down here to earth...") to macabrely funny ("It's finger-lickin' GOOD!").

Pasdar is intense and gutsy as a nice young country boy who has the misfortune to get turned into a vampire against his will, and Wright is wispily endearing as the only vampire who sympathizes with him. Some of the supporting vampires get kind of 2-D and over-the-top at times, but Henriksen does an outstanding job as their weary, battle-scarred leader, and Joshua John Miller does a good job as a vampire trapped in a little boy's body.

"Near Dark" is a darker, grittier brand of vampire movie, and while it's blessed with solid acting, brilliant direction and snappy script, the unique slant on vampires is one of the best parts.
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on September 16, 2002
Near Dark is one of those great movies that it seems no one has seen. I hope this deluxe DVD will change that.
Near Dark suffered in it's initial theatrical release due to it's resemblance to The Lost Boys. They share a storyline (Hapless young man falls for a girl who turns him into a Vampire, and he's forced to deal with her crazy running buddies.), and even a release date; Lost Boys blew Near Dark right out of theaters, but Near Dark found an appreciative audience on video, and deservedly so. The cast is uniformly great, especially Lance Henrikson and Bill Paxton as the lead Vamps. The script, by Director Kathryn and Eric Red, is perfect- we learn little tidbits about the history of the Vampires, but we're always kept at arms length from them. We see them as alien and threatening, and they see us a food. Bigelow does a great job, especially considering it was her solo directorial debut. The only gripe I had is the Vampirism "Cure" which seems like a Deus Ex Machina, but that's a small quibble. The Tangerine Dream score also made some scenes seem really cheesy...FAR from their best work. I think an orchestral score would have been much better, but budget constraints....
The 2-DVD set is beautifully packaged, with a die-cut inner package inside the box, and a great looking (and informative!) booklet. The film looks great; As usual, Anchor Bay does great work on their DVD transfers. It also has a commentary track from Director Bigelow, which is kinda dry and technical. Disc 2 has tons of storyboards, a weak deleted scene, a new 47-minute documentary, cast & crew bios (Very extensive!), still & ad galleries, and tons more.
Near Dark is one of those films that has flown under the radar for FAR too long, and I can't recommend it highly enough!
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on September 8, 2002
Ah yes, Near Dark. This was the film that got buried by The Lost Boys. If you're tired of the Anne Rice school of fashionable and hip Euro vampires, then 1987's Near Dark will be a welcome surprise. The film is a refreshing take on one of horror's most over-used tales. The story is simple: Farm boy Caleb meets girl, Mae. Caleb falls for Mae. Mae (a vampire) bites Caleb. Caleb now must become a member of Mae`s nomadic vampire family, roaming the Midwest in stolen autos, hiding from the sun, and doing their murderous feeding at night. Perhaps the films standout element would be its sense realism, something most other vampire films lack. We learn of vampires and their ways through the viewpoint of Caleb as he becomes a member of the group. And the vampires themselves are re-imagined, in ways that make them real. Near Dark remains Kathryn Bigelow's best film, suffused with style and anarchy that has a true feel for the irregular pulse of a very particular place and time. It's a western in the Southern Gothic tradition in a way. The performances, often weak in horror films, are simply great, with Paxton and Henriksen shining brightest. The atmospheric score by Tangerine Dream is perfect. In the end, Near Dark stands as one of the best vampire films in the last 25 years. It's great to finally have this on DVD.
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on June 27, 2013
Very well done, stylish and I would even say innovative, creative twist on vampire stories. What I thought was great was the idea that the vampires could actually be out during the daytime but suffered greatly in direct sunlight. Lance Henrikson and Bill Paxton were great as vampires. The movie's violence and action was well done and not too gory, and added to the suspense of the story. A refreshing, creative view of vampires as these age old beings that are super strong but at the sametime very fragile in certain ways. The hero as a young man was gullible and gets drawn into the group of vampires, and shows courage as he interacts with this evil group. All in all, a very good vampire film, which differs in a refreshing way compared to the Bela Lugosi and John Carradine portrayals of long ago.
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on July 13, 2004
Somewhere in the southwestern heart of America, a young man named Caleb ( played by Adrian Pasdar) falls for a gorgeous young woman ( played by Jenny Jones) who leads her into her clan of vicious vampire outlaws where he becomes one of them looking for people to kill and blood to drink.
A shockingly original and brilliant vampire gem from 1987 which came out during the same time like " Lost Boys" but this has became a cult hit on video and on DVD now. The casting is great especially having Aliens, Titanic and Terminator stars Lance Henrikensein, Jennette Goldstein and Bill Paxton as the bloodsuckers, great acting and gore. The 2-disc DVD set is great with awesome extras like commentary by the director, interviews, documentary, poster-and-still gallery, deleted scene, and storyboard gallery.
This movie truly belongs in every horror movie lover's library.
Also recommended: " Vamp", " From Dusk Till Dawn", " The Hills Have Eyes", " Demons", " 28 Days Later", " Lifeforce", " Fright Night", " Fright Night 2", " Vampire Hunter D", "Underworld", " Van Helsing", " Interview with the Vampire", " Freddy Vs. Jason" and "Re-Animator".
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on July 7, 2004
"Near Dark" is one of those obscure cult movies that was overshadowed by a bigger budget, better looking cast, & special effects - the likes of the blockbuster film "Lost Boys".
However, this is one of the few vampire movies, save for Romero's "Martin" not to use the word "vampire" nor have any fangs, mirrors, crosses, garlic and the ordinary lot.
Young Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) meets Mae ( a young, Jenny Wright from "St. Elmos Fire" and "Garp"). Passion ensues and Mae "nips" Caleb.
Uh oh! As Caleb starts to "turn" in the sunlight of early morning, he is hijacked in a rickety Winnebago by vamp family, Mae, Jesse (Lance Henriksen), Jesse's woman for eternity, Diamondback (Jenette Goldstein), their little pseudo-son, Homer & savage & sadistic vampire, Severen, played perfectly and to the hilt, by Bill Paxton.
Caleb tries to fit in but just can't seem to get the "killin' part down".
His father, Loy (Tim Thomerson) and little sister, Sarah (Marcie Leeds from "Beaches") are searching for Caleb. Will they find him in time? Watch for yourself and find out!
Another cool thing that I noticed is when Caleb staggers through town, before he goes to the bus stop to try and get home, the cinema behind him is showing "Aliens" which also featured Paxton, Henriksen and Goldstein.
If you like vampire movies like Lost Boys or Bill Paxton, this is highly recommended!
Happy Watching and Unpleasant Dreams!
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on March 10, 2004
Before Kathryn Bigelow got hitched to James Cameron, she was making films that you would swear where by the hand of her future hubby. Near Dark happens to look like a James Cameron horror movie, and saying this should not discredit Bigelow because here we see a female director on flying form. Near Dark not only has Bigelow at the helm, but Eric Red produced and wrote it. The cinematographer is Adam Greenberg who got the Terminator into the film can and we also have two other Cameron favorites in the mix - Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen. So if 1980s are early 1990s Cameron is your cup of blood then Near Dark is exactly what you want to see.
This movie is dirt cheap but done so well that it can only be described as a very beautiful motion picture film to look at even though it is set in the dusty mid-west. Basically it is an amalgamation of cowboys, vampires, rockers, bikers, vampire sickness and love. This could have been a really cheesy B-Movie if it wasn't for such a catchy script, set design, LIGHTING!, special effects, acting and direction. The music is the kind of early synthesizer stuff that John Carpenter would play until the wee hours of the dawn.
Basically the story revolves around a farm hand that gets bit, but not bleed, and ends up bonding with a small family gang of vampires until he can prove that he can make that first kill. In meantime his dad and younger sister are combing the state looking for him. The film is not so quickly moving but like Bigelow's "Point Break" there is enough substance and action here to keep you going with several extremely memorable scenes - namely the bar slaughter, a shoot out involving daylight penetrating bullet holes in the walls and the ending with a kid bursting into flames as the sun comes up. For 1987 this horror packs a punch and deserves its cult status. Bill Paxton's character is a riot and Lance Henriksen has never looked more disfigured. The film may falter at times into very weird love scenes and some strange exsanguinations finales, but for all intensive purposes this is really a superb horror movie that is certainly worthy of repeat viewings. It is also pretty bloody at times and not for the squeamish.
Near Dark gets a really big thumb up from this reviewer who has seen it plenty of times since the somewhat unnoticed cinema release. If you have not seen Near Dark and are anyway interested in the horror genre then go now to the DVD store and do not look back. Its hits that 80s horror era very nicely and you can be proud of it in your collection. A cult classic if there ever was one.
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