Most people who discuss what a brilliant movie Near Dark is compare it to The Lost Boys and are thrilled that it’s a mini-reunion of actors from Aliens. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Alien series, so the in-joke of Aliens playing at a theater that can be seen in the movie doesn’t do a thing for me. And all I’ll say about arguments that this is the better movie that was ignored because of the mainstream popularity of The Lost Boys is, well, The Lost Boys has a faster pace, a better soundtrack, hot and sexy punk rock biker vampires vs. the dirty skanky hick vamps in this film, the awesome Square Pegs alum Jamie Gertz rather than the chick best remembered as Rob Lowe’s baby mama in St. Elmo’s Fire, and the charm and humor of the Coreys rather than a queer looking kid playing an adult vamp trapped in a young boy’s body.
Meanwhile, I must admit that Adrian Pasdar as lead Caleb is almost as sexy as Jason Patric, and Adrian sure does fill a pair of tight 80s jeans nicely. Several of the male characters in Near Dark seem to think so as well. This is one gay vampire movie. Caleb hooks up with Rob Lowe’s baby mama in St. Elmo’s Fire, she bites him, and he spends the rest of the movie being dragged around by a bunch of male vamps who are determined to get him to suck on another man so he can become full vampire (there are essentially only two women in the entire movie and they are both vampires). Lance Henriksen is the official leader of the vamp clan (looking oddly as old as he does today), while Bill Paxton is the rebellious angry one who is hot for Caleb…
Paxton is determined to prove that Caleb is not vampire material, because, as Paxton puts it, his wet dream is to suck Caleb to death. When Caleb gets punched in the face during a bar brawl, Paxton runs his finger along Caleb’s luscious pouting lip to scoop the blood off and then licks Caleb’s blood from his finger. Paxton next throws his arms around the neck of a bearded bar dude like he’s about to kiss him, then leans in to do the old vampire hickey, making a comment about preferring them when they’re shaved—so clearly he’s eaten men before. Does ANYONE else think this is all kinda gay??? On top of that, the old vamp trapped in a young boy’s body can’t resist grabbing a nice hold of Caleb’s crotch when he first meets him (can you say unCOMfortable?), and his name happens to be homo…I mean, Homer.
Meanwhile, Rob Lowe’s baby mama in St. Elmo’s Fire starts to dance with a young James LeGros in the bar and then turns to her supposed lover Caleb and tells Caleb she’s just warming LeGros up for him! In fact, the only female victim in the film has her throat cut with a knife and bled into a cup before the blood is guzzled, so there’s no male-on-female vamp action.
This gay film isn’t quite a horror movie either. It’s really a Western where the outlaws are incidentally vampires. There are crazy shootouts against law enforcement, horseback riding and even the classic showdown in the street. Only a couple of scenes are fairly horrific, but there are no scares to be found. The most terrifying part for me is when the freshly bitten Caleb tries to eat a chocolate bar—and spits it out because his body rejects it! Hell, if I ever become a vampire, I’ll be eating chocolate covered blood clots. I’ll NEVER give up my chocolate.
Finally, methinks the title maybe should have been Near Dawn instead of Near Dark. The fact is, nothing happens “near dark” in this film. It all happens near dawn! The vamps are constantly in a panic because the sun is about to come out. Some of the most exciting moments come when the vamps get caught in the sunlight and begin sizzling. It definitely makes for one smoking ending.
Of course, many vampire lore traditionalists might not like the “cure” for vampirism as introduced in the last moments of this film…
One last, crucial trivial note: the six degrees of St. Elmo’s. John Parr performed “Man in Motion,” the theme song to St. Elmo’s Fire. Well, it just so happens that John’s other classic 80s minor hit “Naughty Naughty” is used in this film, making this the second film featuring Rob Lowe’s baby mama in St. Elmo’s Fire AND a song by John Parr. Awesome.