The vampire mythos has seen its share of tinkering, with virtually every telling adding or omitting something from the lexicon in hopes to achieve a sense of originality to differ it from its peers and predecessors. Near Dark, Kathryn Bigelow's 1987 vamps-as-tramps offering, distances itself from the pack by not using the V word at all, instead letting the action speak for itself.
Caleb (Pasdar) is a cowboy kid living the cowboy life on his daddy's ranch with his lil' sis and his prized horses. He's happy in a simple way, but when Mae (Jenny Wright) comes into his life, things get complicated. Mae is a free spirit who loves the night so much it would just kill her to see the day. Literally.
When Mae gives Caleb a little nip on the neck, the young cowpoke suddenly gets sucked into Mae's world, one which she shares with Jesse (Henrikson), Severen (Paxton), Diamondback (Alien's Vasquez-aka Jeanette Goldstein), and the man-child Homer (Josh Miller). This traveling band of scavengers stay up all night, party hard, and live like wild western bandits. A life that would be perfectly suiting to Caleb, if they didn't also blow-up in sunlight and drink human blood.
Near Dark had the misfortune of being released within months of The Lost Boys, another retelling of the vampire lore, with a hip soundtrack, hipper actors, and Jim Morrison look-alike Jason Patric (Near Dark's Josh Miller's half-brother. One look at Miller and ya wonder what half he got.)
Needless to say, Near Dark was eclipsed by The Lost Boys, and suffered at the box-office, only to resurface as a cult hit on video. While both films were basically doing the same thing - offering a modern take on the vampire mythos for the 80's crowd - horror purists seem to favor Near Dark's crueler anti-heroes and visceral style over Lost Boy's big hair and glossy sheen. I personally think that Near Dark's ragtag ensemble cast (including three of the principals from Bigelow-mentor, Jim Cameron's Aliens) edges out The Lost Boy's gaggle of Tiger Beat hunks and makes for a grittier and ultimately more satisfying bloodsucker flick. It's also stood the test of time a heckuva lot better (I mean, seriously, have you seen Lost Boys recently?)!
This 2 Disc set from Anchor Bay was well worth the wait, featuring a very solid transfer and excellent audio mix, as well as an abundance of extra goodies, including a commentary with Bigelow (who actually infuriates me with the way she speaks, but offers a lot of insight when she's not being pseudo intellectual. Picture a hippie art teacher reminiscing about Woodstock with the aid of a thesaurus). There are also poster and stills galleries, theatrical trailers, a deleted scene with commentary, and the icing on the cake; a brand new 47 minute documentary with interviews with Henriksen, Paxton, Goldstein, Pasdar and others involved with the production. It's a very solid "look back" and is worth the price of the film alone.
Near Dark is a great vamp flick that deserves it's cult-status, and Anchor Bay rewards it with a wonderfully presented release.