From NEAR DARK featuring Adrian Pasdar as Caleb Colton and Lance Henriksen (pictured) as Jesse Hooker:


Caleb:How old are you?

Jesse: Let’s put it this way: I fought for the South.

Caleb: South?

Jesse: We lost.



NEAR DARKUnited States-94 Mins. 1987

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Written by Kathryn Bigelow and Eric Red


Adrian Pasdar as Caleb Colton

Jenny Wright as Mae

Lance Henriksen as Jesse Hooker

Bill Paxton as Severen

Jenette Goldstein as Diamondback

Tim Thomerson as Loy Colton

Joshua Miller as Homer

Long before 30 Days of Night, long before From Dusk til Dawn there was Near Dark. This tale of a gang of nomadic and marauding vampires set the bar pretty damned high for the vampire genre in the years to come. Kathryn Bigelow has directed a white-hot knuckle gripper of a horror suspense film that runs on all cylinders like a 69 Chevy with a 396. The performances, direction and writing are absolutely top-notch. The best performances in the film come from Bill Paxton and Adrian Pasdar. Paxton portrays Severen, a vampire who has sunk so far into depravity that killing isn’t second nature to him but merely a natural instinct. Watch as he almost single-handedly lays waste to the patrons of a shit-poke bar that just happens to be on their radar and therefore in their way. His acting has just the right amount of over the top glee. Pasdar is the young farm boy who is turned by Mae, played by Jenny Wright, who still looks at the world as if it were lit by the sun even though she has left the sun behind. He is the exact opposite of Severen in that it never occurs to him that he needs to kill to survive. This is a whole new world to him and excuse him if he don’t know just what the hell is going on.

The one thing about the film that sets it apart is that it never uses the word vampire. Instead it blends the old standards (like sunlight burning the flesh of a vampire), along with dialogue that gives us hints as to just how old these murderers are (“Hey Jesse, remember that fire we started in Chicago?” or “Jesse, there’s something I been meanin’ to ask ya.” “Yeah,what might that be?” “How old are ya?” “Let’s just say I fought for the South” “The South?” “We lost.'”  Brilliant.

Kathryn Bigelow won the best director Oscar in 2010 for The Hurt Locker. Before that, she honed her craft on films such as Near Dark, Point Break and Strange Days that helped her to sharpen her talents and become the first woman to ever win the Best Director Oscar. Near Dark is proof almost 20 years before that she is deserving of the honor. She has taken a genre that before that had grown stale and over-done and has given it a much-needed jump-start. If I were Robert Rodriguez or David Slade, I’d be kissing her ass and telling her thank you.


The writer and director both were intent on making a Western but realized that the interest in the Western genre at the time was almost non-existent, so it was recommended that they mix genres. Since the horror genre was in vogue at the time, the two decided to make a Horror Western.
This film marked Kathryn Bigelow’s first solo directorial effort and the film’s producer, Edward S. Feldman told her that if she couldn’t handle or didn’t know what she was doing while filming after five days, she would be replaced. She kept the job.
When Severen and Jesse torch the motor home, Severen asks Jesse if he had remembered about a “fire that they had started in Chicago”. It is assumed that they mean the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that left more than 100,000 people homeless and destroyed businesses. Though apocryphal legend attributes the fire to a cow who kicked a lantern, the cause still remains a mystery.
While shooting in the desert, Lance Henriksen relieved the boredom between takes by hopping in his car and taking short drives through the desert, still in costume and often staying in character. According to Henriksen and Bill Paxton, the two were stopped by a policeman who became so unnerved questioning Jesse about his speeding that the officer became visibly uncomfortable, stepping back and placing his hand on his firearm. The obviously flustered officer decided to send them on their way rather than write them a ticket.
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