Before The Hurt Locker and her Oscar win, Kathryn Bigelow made a little-known cult thriller about vampires that was about as far removed from Twilight as you’re reasonably going to get. These vampires are dark and dangerous creatures who take pleasure in killing. Life is cheap to these bloody, brutal beings: even their own. They’re not the type to sparkle in sunlight or wallow in angst.
OK, so 1987’s Near Dark does have a human-vampire romance, but the vampire (Jenny Wright) soon turns her beau (Adrian Pasdar) and he has to adjust to life with a bunch of crazed undead outlaw punks who bring their own brand of the Wild West to rural America.
The film was designed to satisfy Bigelow’s wish to make a Western with a twist, and the studio suggested a genre mash-up with a more popular type of film. The Lost Boys and Fright Night had been big hits, so Bigelow and co-writer Eric Red went for a more grown-up Lost Boys with a biker/Western edge.
Starring James Cameron movie regulars Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein and Bill Paxton, Near Dark features Cameron in a small cameo role. He and Kathryn Bigelow married two years later.
Near Dark was a box office tank, but remains one of the most acclaimed vampire films to date. It’s flawed (surely that kind of body count would be noticed!) but beautifully-filmed and still very much worth watching.