Vampire love

Rated R

Before she made the weak Harrison Ford submarine flick, K:19: The Widowmaker, director Kathryn Bigelow put together a film that was much smaller and far more powerful.

Near Dark is a Western-styled vampire film that has gained cult status since its production in 1987. It cost a mere $5 million to produce and was only Bigelow’s second time out as a feature director.

It’s a vampire film that eschews all of the gothic myths—the crosses, the garlic, and the bats—and opts for a bare bones, modernist approach. The characters, played by the likes of Lance Henrikson and Bill Paxton, never refer to themselves as vampires, and they don’t have fangs. But they do have a problem with sun, driving around the West in a Winnebago with taped up windows to keep out the daylight.

The film also represents a time where Bill Paxton, fresh off his bravura turn in Aliens, was still taking big risks. His performance here is a scene-stealer, decked out in Jim Morrison leather, covered in gore make-up after getting struck by a truck. Paxton hasn’t been this free as a performer in years, although his recent Frailty was a nice change of pace.

Near Dark takes its place alongside movies like From Dusk Till Dawn, films that took the vampire genre and turned it inside out. The movie still looks good, and if you haven’t seen it, you should check it out.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The DVD contains a nearly 50-minute documentary on the making of the film, featuring interviews with Henrikson, Paxton and Bigelow. Some of the interesting trivia includes Paxton’s revelation that the film’s “roadhouse slaughter” was filmed with him under the influence of a shot of vitamin B-12.

Other features include an uninteresting deleted scene, but wholly interesting storyboard montages drawn by Bigelow. The disc also contains a director’s commentary.

Movie: B+

Features: B