as a fan of both horror and western films, i only recently realized that the intersection of these unrelated genres had in fact taken place in 1987 by way of katheryn bigelow's near dark. when it comes to vampires, i will pretty much read and watch anything. the iconography, conventions, myths and ultimately clichés, of the genre are easily identified. but i'm not putting the clichés down. because, generally they work. there is something about the vampire with a tortured conscience and the inevitable doomed romance that ensues when he finds [un]likely love with a mortal, that just gets me: angel, louie, bill compton, even edward [ok not edward, i can't stand him, but i'm throwing him in for good measure].
it also seems, that with the exception of a film like 30 days of night, there aren't very many truly evil representations of vampires. there is always AN evil vampire but it is balanced by the romantic tragic one we want to fall in love with. and so, i found near dark, to be a bit off the beaten path. while the film is awkward and a [slightly dated] product of the 80s, it does try to get at the idea of the romantic/villainous vampire but deconstructs it from another angle. it takes the western hero- isolated, reckless, living by his own code and somewhat of a good old boy, and tears him down by forcing him to face darkness and the loss of his soul. adrian pasdar is definitely more clint eastwood than john wayne. but our hero cannot be a vampire, because the film establishes all vampires are good for nothing murderous psycho bill paxton like ner-do-wells. and like a classic western, once our hero has faced the darkness within himself and the world, he emerges doubly heroic. the order of the old west is preserved and vampires are really bad. even if the old west does have a distinctly 80's guitar riff and a terminateresque big rig blow up extravaganza.
it's very stylish and moody, and worth a viewing.
images from near dark, 1987, directed by katherine bigelow