My Vampire Spring Continues With 1987′s “Near Dark”

HOW HAVE I NEVER SEEN THIS MASTERPIECE BEFORE?

It is just so successful at doing what it promises. Kathryn Bigelow’s horror classic is dusty, full of gorgeous sunsets and terrific use of light, breathtakingly sleazy, and emotionally effective. You get dirtbag biker-type vampires (“How old are you?” “Let’s just say, I fought for the South”) and a vampire child who’s ridiculously fun, then actually scary, and then immensely sad. My jaw dropped at the brutal fights.

I liked the moral ambiguity of the central character, Adrian Pasdar’s Caleb. There’s an early scene where he exploits a woman’s obvious fear in order to steal a kiss, and I wondered if the movie just didn’t notice or care how frightening and cruel that is. But later we see hints of a real darkness in Caleb’s soul, a glee at violence despite his reluctance to engage in it. Even his final act of the movie (which I didn’t love, but okay) is done against a woman’s will, for her own good. I don’t know if Bigelow intended him to come across as anything other than a hero, but to me, he played as a well-meaning man who has no idea how scary he really is.

Hugely recommended if you enjoy sleaze and ’80s horror. And I always do!

About Eve Tushnet

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