Near Dark (1987)? More like damn Near Perfect
Before Kathryn Bigelow masterfully directed The Hurt Locker which led to her winning an Oscar and before creating the "100% pure adrenaline ride" that was Point Break, there was this 1987 vampire classic.
In the last few years, vampires in popular culture have seen an impossibly high resurgence. Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Day Breakers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and worse... Angel. I never thought I'd see the day when 14 year old girls at the Dufferin Mall food court would all be wearing t-shirts that read "I Love Vampires" in sparkly pink writing. What would Nosferatu say if he could see these kiddies now? Most likely nothing, his mouth would be too full with their flesh.
Joe described this one to me as "what Twilight should be" and I can not concur more. What a modern day vampire love story needs to understand is that the story actually involves VAMPIRES! Sorry Team Edward fans, but vampires don't glitter in the daylight... they burn the fuck up. Let's see Robert Pattinson run across a highway in day light while lit on fire like the vamps in this movie do.
Today's media has romanticized the idea of the vampire. While vampires started as mere monsters in the human psyche the idea of being bitten and turned has become more and more sexualized. True Blood is a soap with vampires who can't stop sexing each other. I am not saying it is a bad show... I'm sure I would be impaled for such blasphemy, all I'm saying is that it has little to do with vampires. It more has to do with human drama surrounding the characters much like Battlestar Galactica really wasn't about space battles. Twilight is the kiddie-lite version where instead of steamy sex scenes there's some fundamentally flawed story about Christian values... Christ, I hate Twilight. Still the sentiment is the same with both True Blood and Twilight; vampires are sexy.
I predominately mention these two examples because they both feel strongly influenced by Near Dark. Near Dark is mainly a love story about a young Texan man who falls in love with a young Texan woman who happens to be a vampire. She bites him and tries to teach him how to become like her. She's been traveling the country with an interesting group of vamps who have been terrorizing regular folk every night. The group decide to give their newest recruit a week to prove he can be one of them or they'll kill him. You see, turns out being a vampire is a tough business which is what recent incarnations of vampires in the media haven't presented well enough. As a vampire you may live forever, but the high price is you can only drink blood. And there's no cheating allowed, no drinking animal blood, you HAVE to drink human blood... sorry, dems the rules of vampire-ism. This film shows the young man struggle with the idea of killing innocent people every night to continue his existence. He also has to learn to let go of the earthly pleasures of normal food and drink as well as (sorry True Blooders) sex and, like I mentioned before, the ability to be in sunlight. He wonders if it is really worth it in the long run. When the group of vamps come across his family it's a no brainer to him.
Look no further for the deromanticizing of the vampire than a superbly crafted ten minute scene where the group slowly terrorizes and murders everyone in a roadside bar they come across. Definitely the highlight of the film.
Classic vampire stories were predominately written by men, this is where we get this "I waannnt to succcckk yeerrr bllloooddd" business. Our ideas of vamps were mostly men who snuck into the rooms of beautiful women while they were asleep so they could feed. Here with a woman's perspective it's a great flip to see the man who is the victim to the dangerous woman who wants to suck his... er... blood.
Such a well casted and terrifically executed effort Near Dark is the definitive vampire film. Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton are the stand outs as out of their mind vampires who enjoy the killing and the long nights maybe a little too much. The great soundtrack by Tangerine Dream accentuates the emotional tones of the film but it does seriously make this one feel 80's. However the synths mix well with the southern nights in an odd way, which creates it's own timeless atmosphere.
The only flaw I can mention from this one is the ending, which was a little too optimistic for my taste. However, the sequences leading up to it are mind blowingly good.
I can't recommend this one enough. Not only is it the best vampire movie I've ever seen but it's going in my top ten... or twenty... or whatever. Let's just say this is one of my favourite movies.
So there's the verdict people, Near Dark is the best vampire story committed to screen ever... and if you say different, i will fight you.