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Near Dark | review | dvd | Lollipop

Near Dark

(Anchor Bay)
By Scott Hefflon

This '87 vampire classic finally gets its day in the sun (so to speak) with a glorious two-DVD release by Anchor Bay. While the theater run was short due to a struggling releasing company (or something), Near Dark is a cult classic to vampire flick fans. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (Strange Days, Point Break) and starring Bill Paxton (as a hellbent yahoo bloodsucker), "The Face" Lance Henrikson (as the cool'n'cold-blooded "dad" vampire), and including young yummies of both sexes (a Top Gun cameo stud and a pouty, come-hither kitten [think Courtney Love, only pretty]), this Western-loner-joins-vampire-family-terrorizing-hicksville has always been a personal fave of mine. Add to the mix a soundtrack by Tangerine Dream (always wondered why Danny Elfman got all the Nightbreed-style gigs when TD really sparkled here) and a roadhouse slaughter to John Parr's "Naughty Naughty." OK, so Near Dark was made in the late '80s, and The Lost Boys, Young Guns, and Top Gun elements sneak in here as much as Aliens and, uh, ya know, some John Hughes teen movie where a good lad takes on some bad boys to save the girl. And, admittedly, Near Dark is also kind of a romance story, but there's blood in the kisses and the girl looks real good in tight jeans and Bill Paxton gets most of his face melted off during a shootout with the cops (always the shootout with the cops), so this ain't no Freddy Prince, Jr. sapfest, ok?

The story: He meets her, they neck, she bites him and runs away, he starts to turn, he searches for her to ask what's happening to him, his dad and sister go looking for him, lots of people die in all sorts of cool ways, and the pacing and music rock. Oh, and the music rocks without a nü metal band in sight...

The bonus DVD has a 47-minute documentary on the making of and ideas behind the movie, and there are still photos galore as well as talent bios to show the breadth of everyone involved. (Tasty Jenny Wright, for instance, was Robin's William's first in The World According to Garp, she was a Geldof groupie in Pink Floyd: The Wall, and she teetered on the dark edge of The Brat Pack with appearances in St. Elmo's Fire, The Wildlife, Out of Bounds, and Young Guns II... Yeah, and what have you done?)

Near Dark is Hollywood slick for a cult flick, to be sure. Imagine if The Lost Boys was an unknown release only vampire geeks knew about. It's stylish like Strange Days, has great one-liners delivered by top-notch actors like Paxton and Henrikson, and it's neither heavy-handed on the moralization nor is it splatter-for-splatter's-sake. A well-crafted piece of celluloid from stem to stern, this two-DVD, photo-strewn package covers all the bases and is a high-recommended purchase for all action/horror fans.

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