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Near Dark
AKA: Buio si avvicina, Il, Aux frontiéres de laube, Near Dark - Die Nacht hat Ihren Preis

USA 1987, Color, 89 min
Director Kathryn Bigelow
Screenplay Eric Red, Katryn Bigelow
Producer Steven-Charles Jaffe
Adrian Pasdar Caleb
Jenny Wright Mae
Lance Henriksen Jesse
Bill Paxton Severen
Tim Thomerson Loy
Joshua Miller Homer
Marcie Leeds Sarah

One night in a dreary dump in Oklahoma, the young son of a farmer Caleb meets the beautiful, pale and mysterious Mae and is fascinated by her at once. They go for a spin and Mae completely looses track of time. Shortly before dawn she begs Caleb to take her home as soon as possible. Caleb stops the car and "blackmails" her into giving him a kiss, not knowing what he is getting involved with. Mae, of course, is a vampire, and can't resist putting her fangs in the young man's throat. She bites him, but doesn't kill him. When it dawns on her what she has done, she runs away - the sun is about to rise anyway.

Caleb, whose metamorphosis into a creature of the night starts directly, also has to realize this painfully. As his car won't start, he has to go home on food, and the higher the sun rises, the worse he is feeling. Just before reaching his father's farm he collapses and is kidnapped in front of the eyes of his family by a rapidly arriving camping car with darkened windows.

When he regains consciousness, Mae is with him and introduces him to her "family". Jesse and Diamondback, the "father and mother figure" of the vampire clan, the psychopathic Severen and Homer, having the body of a child and being forced to live in this body for eternity (comparable to Claudia in "Interview with the Vampire"). These quite unfriendly people are not very happy to accept Caleb in their group. Nevertheless, Caleb is given one week as probation period and has to learn to kill in order to survive.

When he gave away his last chance, because he had let the victim escape, he can proof himself worth anyway, when he saves the vampire group by risking his "life" when the police lays siege to the motel bungalow of the vampire desperados and the lethal sunburn is imminent. Now Caleb seems to be integrated and starts to feel affiliated to this strange new world. But the affection towards his human family prevails. When he meets his real father and sister in a motel by chance, he uses the moment and flees.

By means of a blood transfusion Caleb is turned back into an ordinary human again. But the vampires do not want to accept this defeat and kidnap his little sister. The bloodsuckers then lose the final fight - the nights in Oklahoma seem to be shorter than elsewhere - and the rising sun burns them. Caleb rescues his sister and Mae, the girl he loves. And thanks to a blood transfusion Mae also becomes mortal again. Happy End.

To say it first: yes, the end is stupid and way too simple. Furthermore the story lacks logic from time to time. And it's only due these two facts that the movie doesn't receive the best ranking possible (five bats). Apart from these minor flaws, the movie is one of the greatest and most exceptional vampire movie of the 80s, and also in general one of THE movies of the decade (and it will always stay one of our favorite movies - at least Top 10).

"Near Dark" definitely differs from all other vampire movies of the 80s. Just have a look at Joel Schumacher's "The Lost Boys" from the same year and you will understand what I mean. Kathryn Bigelow anticipates many of the typical stylistic means of the cinema of the 90s, creating a kind of basis for movies such as "Interview with the Vampire" or "The Addiction". Here it's the first time the tragic aspects of being a vampire are treated philosophically - which would become typical for later productions. On the other hand, her portrayal of explicit violence, the road movie and cowboy-noir themes surely inspired Rodriguez "From Dusk till Dawn" and Carpenter's "Vampires" (who wasn't really able to convert them into a good movie, but that's another story).

And, what puts the movie above average is that is shows the daily (wanna say nightly) live of the vampires, as it as never been done before. Bigelow's bloodsuckers permanently have to flee, they steadily have to organize new cars and every morning have to find a dark place to hide from the sun. It's an unsteady, restless and not at all romantic life, but they do not at all feel guilty for the things they do. The only fun they have in their undead tristesse is the one or other massacre in a redneck bar somewhere off the highway (one of the greatest scenes of the movie), and shootings with the police. The vampires are looking for the special kick, they are full of death wishes but on the other hand, and this is he dualistic element of their being, they are, just like humans, afraid of dying. How they face their death at the end of the movie is really very poetic.

It's only the happy end with Caleb and Mea and the too easy rescue by means of blood transfusion that limits the pleasure, but I guess I've already mentioned this before. Up till then Ms Bigelow leads us through 89 minutes of powerful pictures (and she could only come up to these once later in "Strange Days" - and here the end was stupid as well)

Concerning the actors I would especially like to praise the performance of Lance Henriksen as mostly levelheaded cool leader of the vampire group and Bill Paxton, whose interpretation of the psychopath is alarmingly realistic. The rest of the ensemble is convincing as well. It's only Jenny Wright as vampire bride Mae who somehow stays pale (hihi), her emotions do not seem very convincing and her acting appears somehow helpless.

I hope you know what to do now! Watch it! It's really worth seeing.


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