“Normal folks, they don’t spit out bullets when you shoot ‘em, no sir!”
When trying to figure out a way to stand out for her first solo directorial project, Kathryn Bigelow and her co-writer Eric Red decided to add elements of the vampire genre to the western they were developing. And thus, Near Dark was born. Unfortunately, her film came out a few months after the big vampire film of the year, The Lost Boys, and hers was lost in the shuffle. Despite that, her film still left enough of a mark that enabled her to get her career off the ground. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we kick off the second part of our Kathryn Bigelow series with her 1987 film Near Dark.
We talk about our expectations of a film marketed as a vampire western, and how well the movie actually meets them. We look at the trio of actors ported over from James Cameron’s Aliens — Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, and Jenette Goldstein — and discuss how well they do here paired with the other actors. We debate the strengths of the film and the weaknesses, finding plenty of both, and argue about which outweigh the other. We chat about the vampire tropes introduced here and ponder if this film does anything new with the genre that we hadn’t seen before. We discuss how Bigelow handles the camera, the lighting, the action and more throughout the film, seeing a clear line to some of her later films. And we ponder the penchant Hollywood writers seem to have with the way romance works so quickly in movies (it’s shorthand, we get it, but seriously? Sometimes, it’s too much.)
It’s a film that has problems that certainly weigh Pete’s opinion of it down while Andy still finds it enjoyable despite its issues. Coming at the film from these two positions allows for a fantastic conversation, so check the movie out then tune in! The Next Reel — when the movie ends, our conversation begins.