Near Dark (1987) - Rotten Tomatoes

Near Dark (1987)



Critic Consensus: Near Dark is at once a creepy vampire film, a thrilling western, and a poignant family tale, with humor and scares in abundance.

Movie Info

In Kathryn Bigelow's tale of vampires in the American Southwest, the creatures of the night aren't elegant, cloaked aristocrats. They're a gun-toting gang that dresses and acts like a motorcycle gang. Caleb (Adrian Pasdar), a restless young man from a small farm town, meets an alluring drifter named Mae (Jenny Wright). She reveals herself to be a vampire, who "turns" Caleb into one of her kind rather than kill him. But the rest of her "family" is slow to accept the newcomer. The ancient leader, Jesse (Lance Henriksen), and his psychotic henchman Severen (Bill Paxton) lay down the law; Caleb has to carry his own weight or die. However, he can't bring himself to kill. He manages to win the gang's approval when he rescues them from certain death in a daytime gunfight during a spectacular motel shoot-out in which every bullet hole lets in a deadly ray of sunlight. When the vampires threaten Caleb's real family, he's forced to choose between life and death. The film avoids the complex vampire mythology of such films as Interview with the Vampire. Instead, it emphasizes the intense, seductive bond that forms between Caleb and the violent but tightly knit gang. Bigelow would later utilize this powerful dramatic device in her 1991 film Point Break.more
Rating: R
Genre: Western, Horror, Romance, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: Kathryn Bigelow, Eric Red
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 10, 2002
Lions Gate Films


Adrian Pasdar
as Caleb Colton
Bill Paxton
as Severen
Jenette Goldstein
as Diamondback
Kenny Call
as Deputy Sheriff
Ed Corbett
as Ticket Seller
Troy Evans
as Plainclothes Officer
Bill Cross
as Sheriff Eakers
Roger Aaron Brown
as Cajun Truck Driver
Thomas Wagner
as Bartender
Robert Winley
as Patron in Bar
James LeGros
as Teenage Cowboy
Jan King
as Waitress
Danny Kopel
as Biker in Bar
S.A. Griffin
as Police Officer at Mo...
Don Pugsley
as Second truck Driver
Neith Hunter
as Ladies in Car
Theresa Randle
as Ladies in Car
Tony Pierce
as Highway Youth
Gordon Haight
as Highway Youth
Leo Geter
as Caleb's Friend
Bob Terhune
as State Trooper
William T. Lane
as State Trooper
Gary Littlejohn
as State Trooper
Paul Lane
as State Trooper
Eddie Mulder
as State Trooper
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Near Dark

Critic Reviews for Near Dark

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (9)

Long after the picture ends, you're left with potent half-images: strong-but-vague impressions that resemble the remains of dreams.

Full Review… | October 6, 2013
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

There's a ghastly humor in all this, and Bigelow brings it out without overindulging it. Faced with a nearly repulsive subject, she makes the blood flow inside it, stream out over the cuts.

Full Review… | October 6, 2013
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Near Dark has filmmaking finesse to spare, but puts its dank characters on display rather than cadging sympathy for them. It is the Blue Velvet of date-night spook shows.

Full Review… | October 14, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

This is on the whole a striking directorial debut, at once scary and erotic, with lots of sidelong touches in the casting, direction, and script.

Full Review… | September 26, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

High-powered but pared down, slick but spare, this is a tale that introduces the unearthly into the banality of rural American existence.

Full Review… | September 26, 2007
Top Critic

Bigelow's artful handling of the magic and menace of the night is hauntingly apparent.

August 14, 2007
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Near Dark

This is a film that borders between the world of supernatural vampire films of today, and the grittiness of an eighties action film. Taking a lot of the supporting cast of James Cameron's "Aliens" and thrusting them into the world of vampire outlaws isn't all that unnerving. What makes the film pop has nothing to do with the close knit clan of vampires. These characters are all based on their appearances: Jesse (Henricksen) is a cryptic, ancient warrior who is animalistic in his actions, Mae (Wright) is sweet and innocent, and Severen (Paxton) is a crazed, bloodlust loving killer. Their appearances, the action that shapes the film and makes it step into action movie territory, but then the scenes where they hunt are obviously more based in horror. Bill Paxton is electric in his role, looking fanged and always hungry. The scene where they stop in a bar and feed, would have scared me every night before bed for weeks afterward when I was younger. It's chilling even now, watching his cockeyed stare surveying a man as he tries to protect himself, with blood dripping down his face as easily as sweat. Highly recommend watching this, one of Kathryn Bigelow's earliest films that has some seriously creepy performances.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer


A sexually charged tale of vampirism created decades before it was considered vogue by Pattinson-worshiping pre-teens.
When young Caleb is picked up by a marauding band of night-walkers, he is forced to learn how to survive in his new skin without abandoning what he knows to be right.
Created in the midst of the Reagan Revolution, with it's intense focus on private gain as opposed to the public good, young Caleb must learn to see his fellow humans not as equals, but rather as something to be exploited. He must learn that a way of life is something that has to be taken from others, even if that means taking their very lifesblood.
Politics aside, Bigelow deftly blends horror and the Western in a way that is, pardon the pun, very infectious. Accented by a Tangerine Dream score, this moody coming of age story is sadly underrated. Overshadowed by The Lost Boys, which hit cinemas a mere three months before the release of Near Dark.
Structurally, the film is a bit sloppy. Some scenes are awkwardly forced in to satisfy sub-plots and the end feels a bit slapdash. Also, the dialogue hasn't aged particularly well.
For example:
Caleb: What's going on?
Severen: It's not what's going on, it's what's coming off....your face.

So while not without it's flaws, Near Dark is a dark and fun piece of 80's cinema.

Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

Near Dark Quotes

– Submitted by Alex B (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Tina R (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Tricia M (4 years ago)
– Submitted by Tricia M (4 years ago)

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