" The night is dark....."
Near Dark is my favorite vampire film ever. It is so beautifully written, the lines in the movie are like poetry. Let me tell you all the things I know and love about this film.
The film is about a young man (Caleb) that is biiten by a girl (Mae) he was trying to seduce, that turns out to be a vampire, and is unwillingly took with her and a group of vampires (Jessie Hooker, Diamondback, Severen and Homer). Right before the group kills him, Mae shows them that she has bitten him and he is "turning." The group is reluctant on letting him stay but Mae insists, so they take him on a wild ride to see if he can live up to what he has become.
Kathryn Bigelow (director of Strange Days) and Eric Red (who wrote The Hitcher original and wrote and directed Body Parts and Bad Moon) both decided to team up and write two scripts back to back and each of them would direct one, first they wrote Undertow (which didnt get produced until 1996) then they wrote Near Dark. For Near Dark they wanted to create a non-gothic vampire film, they wanted to take away the basic elements such as, stake through the heart, holy water, crosses, things of that nature they wanted it to seem like a disease, a disease that lasted forever, literly. Keep it simple like a matter of light and dark, the hunger for blood. Blood is like a drug to these people, how cocaine, herion and sex are to addicts, but it is deeper than that, its not just the craving that keeps them on a constant hunt, but they need blood to survive.
The story for this film is brilliantly written, the lines in the movie have such a poetic feel to it, you just want to hear more and more, it doesnt insult your intelligence, it leaves some for the imagination to explore. the cinematograher for this film was Adam Greenberg (Terminator 1 & 2, Ghost, Colateral Damage, Snakes on a Plane) at the time had 8 scripts to chose from, after reading Near Dark he wanted to become part of the project. Kathyrn did an excellent job on casting the lead roles in the film. Bill Paxton was the first one approached, at first he didnt think he would be intrested in doing a vampire movie, but after reading the script he was instanly drawn into the story. He called Lance Henriksen and told him about a great script he just read about vampire family, Lance was reluctant because they had just got done doing Aliens, and felt like a vampire movie wasnt suitable at the time for them. But after reading the script like Bill, was very intrigued. At first he was intrested in playing Bill's role Severn, but after getting more into the story was pulling towards the leader of the vampire family, Jessie Hooker. One day Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen and Jenette Goldstein (all just worked together a year prior in Aliens) went out to dinner and discussed Near Dark and all decided that it was a a film that all of them were eager to do. Kathryn Bigelow felt as if she inherited a group of actors, a group that had just went through a production together, which is like expirencing war. The role of Caleb was played by Adrian Pasdar. Adrian wasnt intrested in the typical vampire films, and didnt think he could play a cowboy role because he is so used to the urban lifestyle, but like the rest after reading the script wanted to become part of the movie.
The cast of the film had went into deep and drastic measures on their own to get into the character they were casted to play. Lance had done the most in creating his character. He had spent his own money, went and got thick nails put on his hands and took pliers and tore them apart to appear more like a vampire that has lived for centuries. Lance had found old lookin clothes to wear, made his hair style look like back in the civil war days, lost weight till he reached 140lbs so he would appear more like a vampire. He would go out into public dressed like this and get into his role to see how people would react. There was a time when he picked up a hitchhiker and scared the shit out of him, until the hitchhiker was like, "man just let me out.'' He even taunted and frightend a cop so bad once the cop just threw him a ticket for speeding and told him to get the hell out there. Lance also created his own back story of how he became "turned" (checkout the DVD extras for those stories, they do an amazing job on telling them).
It justs amazes me on how much dedication there is in this film from both actors and producers. I think that is so important in making a film a classic, the actors were so dedicated to their roles and brought so much to the screen that it really shows. When you watch them perform in the movie it really seems like thats who they are. They did so much personal preperation for the characters; like Bill Paxton read a whole bunch of western books so he could develop the slang, Jenette Goldstein created the appearence of her character (Diamondback), she wanted the depression era glamour look goin on, and she dyed her hair to where it looked liked her roots where coming in strong. Her outfit was dirty and ruff lookin, she wanted to have the glam gone bad look, and she definitely pulls it off well. The cast helped create the family's allegiance, they didnt think of themselves as a group of vampires but as a pack of wolves feeding off the slow, mean and stupid. The barscene in the movie is great, there was so much confidence shot into the performance. I love it! You get to really see how messed up and cruel they are when all together.
The scenery and atmosphere of the film is one of my favorite parts about it. Most of the scenes are shot at dusk and dawn, hence the name Near Dark. They are also shot at the dead hour of the night, the time when a vampire would be most active. Shooting the film at these times really gives you more of a feel of the movie, and it also gives you a better understanding of their llifestyle. "We keep odd hours."
Overall this film is a masterpiece in my eyes. It has a poetic script, an excellent cast, and a great director. This movie is one of my top 10 favorite horror films. I highly recommend this film to all TRUE horror fans! Oh and I also have read that Platinum Dunes (Michael Bay's Horror production company) is in production for a remake of this film.
Please leave your comments and thoughts about this piece I wrote and your opinions of Near Dark!