Near Dark (1987) October 31st, 2022
Have you ever loved The Lost Boys so much that you wished for a sequel? Sure, there’s 2008’s Lost Boys: The Tribe, and if that’s not enough there’s always Lost Boys: The Thirst right? Eh… too much lost, not enough boys. Novels, comic books, TV Pilot, stage production… it’s just not exactly like The Lost Boys and anything short of that won’t quench your thirst. Well, don’t worry, you can always watch Near Dark.
Tell me which movie I’m describing. Young stud in 1987 hooks up with a chick who turns him into a vampire. She introduces him to her vampire family, they help him adapt to his new life as a vampire but eventually they threaten his family and he’s forced to fight back against his newly adopted leather-clad vampire clan.
I’ve laid it on thicker than Alex Winter’s mascara but you get the point, these two movies are eerily similar. I wish the similarities ended there so I could move on to something else but, they just don’t. Both films premiered in 1987. The Lost Boys stars Jason Patric and Near Dark stars Joshua John Miller, both are the biological sons of actor Jason Miller best known for his role as Father Damien Karras from The Exorcist (Didn’t I just watch that?).
I can’t think about Near Dark without thinking about The Lost Boys. How could this happen? Were Joshua John Miller and Jason Patric just supposed to not talk about the fact that they were both acting in carbon copy movies? How does that dinner conversation go?
Jason: “Are you starring in an erotically charged teenage vampire movie this week Joshua?”
Joshua: “No Jason, are you?”
Joshua: “Good because if you were and didn’t tell me, and if I was and didn’t tell you, that’d set up one of the weirdest coincidences in Hollywood history and in 30 years it’s going to confuse some random dude with a blog.”
Jason: “What’s a ‘blog’?”
Joshua: “Shut up and eat your spaghetti Michael!”
Which version of the same premise is better? Both movies have amazing casts, Kiefer Sutherland and Alex Winter paired up against the Coreys as one half of the famous Frog Brothers and the other as Michael’s brother (a different but not lesser variety of brother). Corey Haim has my second favorite line in the movie after every time anyone says “Michael” which is “My own brother. A goddamned shit-sucking vampire!” What the fuck does that even mean? Why not bloodsucking? What kind of vampires suck shit? And if they do, I sure hope they’re goddamned but… isn’t that sort of redundant when it comes to vampires? Isn’t that why they shirk from the cross and burn at holy water? It’s the most bizarre and vexing line in the film. I love it… and I love The Lost Boys‘ hard-gay subtext courtesy of Joel Schumacher. Could you expect anything less than a greased up shirtless saxophonist radiating sexuality on the Santa Monica Pier… from the man who gave Batman nipples? I can’t, I won’t.
If I was choosing the movie I would most sincerely enjoy between the two… It would probably be Near Dark. Look, The Lost Boys is so over the top that I can’t take it seriously but it’s not weird enough to celebrate authentically. It’s a collection of awkward oddities (I really love weird shit) but I don’t find much more value in it than that (maybe it’ll grow on me). Near Dark has a gritty realism that’s completely lacking in The Lost Boys. The vampire family in Near Dark travels from town to town under the cover of darkness feeding on drifters and lone pedestrians. They struggle to keep a low profile and because they’re immortal they’re cursed to live this life forever. Except when they go buck wild and annihilate an entire dive bar leaving every surface covered in gallons of blood. If you’ve seen Near Dark, you know exactly what I’m talking about because it’s the best scene in the movie.
While The Lost Boys cast is legendary, Near Dark isn’t lacking. Somehow director Kathryn Bigelow (Yeah, that Kathryn Bigelow. The director of Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker, and K-19: The Widowmaker all movies I haven’t seen. I hear good things. JK: She directed Point Break bro! She’s got the goods! ) snagged a big chunk of her husband’s (James Cameron) cast from Aliens for her gritty little vampire movie. Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Jeanette Goldstein join Jenny Wright as they sink their teeth into Adrian Pasdar (TV’s Glenn Talbot from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). As expected Paxton steals the show, and the poster, cementing himself as the de-facto star, sorry Adrian. Near Dark‘s written like it’s taking the problems of a modern vampire seriously which brings a sincerity to the movie The Lost Boys never even attempts.
The best thing about Near Dark is that if you really love The Lost Boys then you’ve got to watch Near Dark and if you really love Near Dark but you’ve never seen The Lost Boys then you’ve got to watch The Lost Boys. Anything less complicated than that is a false dichotomy so don’t buy into it unless you’ve seen either/both and didn’t like it/them and in that case you’re weird because you’ve read this far into this review and those two movies, which you clearly don’t like, are all I’ve talked about. What gives man? Why are you still here? Get out! Strain to find something worthwhile in every film you see until you can’t give a straight answer to the question “Did you like it?” anymore. That’s what a real film-lover would do! That’s what someone who loves Point Break would do!
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