Tuesday, April 22, 2008

FGFC: "Near Dark"

I think we are all hip to what time it is now right? You remember, the FGFC brought to us by the always awesome Stacie Ponder from Final Girl fame. So the chosen one this month was "Near Dark." A bold choice for Stacie to be sure, what with nearly half the cast being fresh off the set of "Aliens" and thus could potentially still have smelled of Reiser. Well gambled Stacie, well gambled indeed.

The basics
Nathan Petrelli Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) is a rowdy country youth who one night happens across Mae (Jenny Wright) at a gas station. Being a red blooded young male Caleb decides to chat Mae up a bit, ya know ask for a taste of her ice cream cone (literally). One thing leads to another and the two go for a nighttime drive. Just when things start to heat up a bit Mae realizes that it is getting early, she demands that Caleb take her home. Well he doesn't know she's a vampire so he kind of tries to dissuade her from leaving. This earns him a bite, after which Mae hops out of the car and scurries off leaving Caleb to start turning (and burning!) on his own.

As Caleb is slowly making his way home, his little sister Sarah and their dad Loy notice him and his smokiness just in time for a mysterious motor home to speed up on him and swoop him away. Turns out the motor home belongs to the group of vampires that Mae belongs to. Caleb meets his new "family" under imperfect circumstances, the crazy one of the group Severen (Bill Paxton) would very much like to remove his Caleb's head from his body, and nobody else seems to think that such a bad idea. Save for Mae who claims him and promises to teach him their ways.

Caleb is having issues with his new life, he doesn't want to kill, maybe he can't. Even with Mae's help he isn't able. The group has two choices at this point. Kill him, or help him. Fun loving lot that they are they decide to stage a little fun in Caleb's honor. They take him to a little country bar for a few drinks and a little slaughter, not necessarily in that order. Caleb learns that he has some pretty amazing strength, that bullets don't kill him, and that yep he can't kill. Still before he learned that he didn't stop everyone else from having their mayhem.

Unfortunately the one that Caleb let get away went straight to the cops (a little murder and he goes tattling) so their daytime slumber is interrupted by a gunfight. The sun being problematic they aren't doing so hot so Caleb grabs the van keys a blanket and hurls himself out the window and makes a break for it. Once in the safety of a new motel later that night it seems as if Caleb is being somewhat forgiven if not accepted for his bravery. That is until the resident child sized vampire Homer is out for a smoke when he comes across Sarah, Caleb's little sister, who is traveling with her dad tracking Caleb down as they don't know why he disappeared.

Homer takes a liking to Sarah. Once Caleb finds out about it things take a turn. Loy, their dad is brought to the room with the idea that these people tracking them must be eliminated. Not if Caleb has his way! Some gunshots and fighting ensue, Caleb gets Loy and Sarah and they bolt. Caleb really can't explain what has happened easily, but he demands that Loy not take him to a hospital. Instead he has the idea to try a little blood transfusion to see about curing his newly acquired thirst. Which it does.

The next night Mae comes to Caleb. Clearly the clever hiding place of their house didn't work! Mae seemingly just wants to see Caleb, but while they are busy making out Sarah is busy being kidnapped. Once he realizes what is up Caleb makes his pursuit, on horseback no less (which ended up making a really cool image).

On the way to Sarah Caleb runs into and has a tussle with Severen, who is angry over the betrayal. The fight eventually leads Caleb into a semi-truck which he uses to try and run over Severen. The plan doesn't work out as he only gets hurt and is left clinging to the hood of the truck taunting Caleb and punching his way into the hood to rip things apart. Caleb jackknifes the truck, jumping out just before it and the still attached Severen explodes. One down!

Before Jesse and Diamondback get a chance to finish Caleb off in retaliation day starts breaking. They have to retreat to the car along with Mae, Homer, and the still captured Sarah to stay out of the sun. Homer still has plans to turn Sarah but Mae has other intentions. She grabs Sarah and jumps out of the back window into the sun running Sarah towards Caleb who meets them and saves Mae with his coat. Homer, distraught over the loss of his new infatuation jumps out to make chase. Unfortunately for him He had nothing to shade him from the sun and before he can make much of a chase he succumbs to the burning and explodes. Two down!

Knowing that they have nothing left Jesse and Diamondback turn around yet again and make a last ditch effort to run down the three annoyances. Their plan never takes hold as the sun gets them as well and they lose control of the car just before, yep, they both explode. Three and four down!

Caleb takes Mae back home, works the transfusion magics on her and the two, so it seems live happily ever after.

Thoughts, both good and bad
So for me this was a strange watch. I know this will come out strange but throughout both viewings of the movie I kept having the same thought. And I very well could be completely off base and/or off my rocker here but. What really classifies this as a horror movie? I mean other than the vampires, which yeah I admit that is a big hurdle but still. The vampire lore was more of a backdrop I felt for a movie that to me played almost more like a drama/action/comedy and of course modern western. It just happened to have vampires in it. I've noticed this in the past with other vampire movies and TV shows as well, most of which admittedly were made after "Near Dark" so take that for what you will..

Mind you I'm not complaining about the movie. In fact I believe that "Near Dark" blended those genre's quite well and did so without the hokeyness that it could have fallen into. What I'm getting at here is that to me it almost seems as if vampire flicks, at least this kind of them, have almost moved out of the horror genre and created a new one of their own, or at least some sort of strange multi-sub genre.

So on this new standard that I may or may not have just created where does "Near Dark" fall for me? It's gotta be near the top. What the movie lacked in scary (again as I see it) it certainly didn't lack in intensity. Hell Bill Paxton's Severen had the intensity quota filled all by his excellently obnoxious self.

The writing and storytelling for the most part were actually a lot tighter than I expected. It's the small things that I liked such. Severen's line "Cut the shit. I know you're awake. I can smell it." for instance, a small thing that said a few things. It let us know an ability that this flavor of vampire has, also it spoke to the nature of his character. As did the moment with the spur. Jesse and Diamondback's mannerisms alone let you know where they stood. While I'm on that subject, Lance Henriksen was fantastic as Jesse.

But it wasn't all great. A few small things kind of got to me. The first one was Homer (Joshua Miller), pun not intended but not rejected either! Seriously what was up with him? One of his first lines was about being a "big man in a little body" and then Jesse throughout referred to him as "old man" he even smoked and played cards as if he were indeed an adult in a kids body. But then inexplicably other times (in private, not in public for show) he acted as the child. That is really why the child turned into a vampire doesn't really work for me almost ever, they are a recipe for plot holes or confusion. Also Homer's dialog was, well, lame. "The name's Homer. H-O-M-E-R. Mispronounce it... and I wouldn't... wanna... be you." Really? Thats all ya got little guy? Well ok then.

Then again at least H-O-M-E-R (Hey apparently thats how he wants it said) got some lines. Diamondback (Janette Goldstein) barely said a thing. Mostly she just clung to Jesse. Though she did have the most awesome hair in the entire movie, and she was wielded that knife pretty in the bar scene. Still it seemed like a waste of some good talent.

By the way. If you want to see a slightly less entertaining version of pretty much that exact same bar scene, go watch "The Thirst." But then, why would you want to see the less entertaining?...

Final Though
Bottom line. "Near Dark" was a lot of fun, if you haven't seen it I think you really should. Odds are you have seen something influenced by this and odds are they weren't as good.

Also ya know, just two more small facts. #1 as previously mentioned, No Reiser! And #2 as you may have noticed almost everyone blows up!

We like the boom!

(no, I'm...I'm not sure why)

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