mike@projection-booth.com mike@projection-booth.com

July 9, 2013

Episode 122: Near Dark (1987)

Special Guests: Lance Henriksen & Mike Mayo

Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark is a hybrid vampire film in which "The V Word" is never uttered. We discuss this film, penned by screenwriter Eric Red, and other vampire flicks this episode.

Our special co-host, Edward G. Pettit, is a freelance writer, book reviewer, film presenter, professor and literary provocateur.

Buy Near Dark on DVD
Buy Lance Henriksen's autobiography Not Bad for a Human
Buy Mike Mayo's The Horror Show Guide: The Ultimate Frightfest of Movies
Listen to our Martin episode
Listen to our The Hitcher episode
Listen to our The Visitor episode
Listen to our Not Bad for a Human bonus show

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  1. Great analysis of NEAR DARK. I think it was an underrated movie when it was released. I love the fact that the 'Red Neck/White Trash' get what they deserved.
    I love Bill Paxton too. It's sort of funny how many people confuse Paxton with the other Bill (what's his name).
    I have always been a sucker for a western. This movie is a western dressed as a horror movie.
    It is obvious to me that Bigelow is a painter simply based on the canvas she paints on film.

    I look forward to listening to more of your podcasts.

    Thanks, Angelabsurdist.

  2. Great episode, but you already knew that.

    The movie however has a major problem - the good guys. The hero is as unmemorable as they come, and the girl is even worse (unless you have the hots for the actress like your guest did, I just don't see how you can be satisfied with her being cast in the movie). If people remember anything about the movie, it's the dark comedic tone, the formidable, scary villains (with them, casting was perfect), the setting and the slick direction.

    I could listen to Henriksen's anecdotes anytime. You should've asked him which of the movies he made was the most painful to do physically. Survival Quest maybe? Anyway, can't wait for that improv comedy he did with Thomerson. I have seen the subject of ageism in Hollywood literally only once on film - in a decent Rosanna Arquette's documentary Searching for Debra Winger (2002). Arquette was hitting 40 at the time, and she heard about the "unwritten rule" that says that after you're 40, you're no longer considered - quote: "fuckable" - as an actress and the roles dry out. Her role model Debra Winger announced at the time that she was quitting acting for the very same reason and that made Arquette seriously depressed and fearful about her own future career. "If Debra can't make it once she's over 40, what chance does Rosanna have", she thought. Throughout the film, she interviews some 30 mostly famous US and European actresses (some under, some over 40) about how they (plan to) handle the big 4 O. Besides hearing about their experiences (some agree that the rule is a serious detriment, some don't), it's also interesting to see in hindsight what they say about their future plans and what they actually ended up doing (Debra came back, Sharon Stone did a boob job, although she claimed she'd never try to rejuvenate and so on). It's also interesting to see some of the people who are no longer here (like the murdered actresses Adrienne Shelly or Ebert). Finally, it's interesting to hear how most of these actresses had to sacrifice the quality time with their husbands and kids (most of them got divorced and admitted they weren't great moms) due to filming and theater play schedules and how they would still choose acting despite that (something I first heard in an interview with Kate Mulgrew, the actress who played Star Trek Voyager's Captain Janeway, where she said the very same things about her own personal life, but I didn't know at the time how prevalent that was among actresses).

    Boy, am I off topic. Anyway, check out that documentary. It's very interesting.

    You know what the "a family of vampires roaming in a van through towns" concept reminds me of (besides the obvious metaphors)? John McTiernan's Nomads (1986), although technically the roaming punks and metalheads in this movie are more similar to demons and wraiths. The movie is no classic, but it's worth a look. One of the more interesting Brosnan's pre-Bond outings, and direction is of course excellent. And the original guitar rock soundtrack is also excellent (supposedly Nugent had something to do with the tunes, maybe as a producer or a performer or something). I'm not saying you should do an episode on it, just that you should check it out for yourselves if you haven't already.

    One negative critique for you two. How come such film connoisseurs as the two of you forgot about Bigelow's first movie (Near Dark was the second)?
    The Loveless (1981) with Williem Dafoe as the leader of a motorcycle gang in the fifties(?) who stop by in a small town and start making trouble (think Streets of Fire's looks and Near Dark's tone). You can see how some of the gang's mannerisms can be seen in near Dark (especially with Paxton's character). And this is a drama. No hero to just come in and takes care of them with ease.

    Anyway, love the show. Type you next time. Greetings from The Viewer.

  3. Thanks so much for taking the time to listen and to comment!

    IN regard to The Loveless, yeah, I totally glanced over that one. I guess I didn't go into it as she's listed as a "co-director" of the film on IMDB and that's always a tough thing to know who did what as a co-director or why that credit was given. How I wish we had been able to connect with Ms. Bigelow to talk to her about Near Dark and her other films!

    Thanks again for your thoughts.