The Hurt 18-Wheeler: Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark

near dark
[NOTE: My first blog post, ORIGINALLY POSTED FEBRUARY 25, 2010 1:38PM on Open Salon. I cringe at the dated-ness and the bad writing.]


It was not my intention to launch this blog with vampires.  After many discussions with a friend and fellow horror fan who has begun to actively loathe the vampire genre, I’m starting to come around to his point of view that the bulk of current fictions about the creatures utterly drains them and their stories of anything original and compelling.  I’m lying to you, of course – I’m a fan of  True Blood, and I must, with great shame, admit that I enjoy the WB’s Vampire Diaries.

However, Martha P. Nochimson’s rather puzzling attack on Kathryn Bigelow and her excellent film “The Hurt Locker” now forces me to talk about one of my favorite films, Bigelow’s vampire romance/thrill ride Near Dark. Nochimson’s point that high-testosterone war films are often favored over “chick fare” is lost in her bizarre accusations of Bigelow ‘pandering to males’ and being a ‘transvestite director,’ as though Bigelow is obliged to make only romantic comedies or Jane Austen adaptations.

And when I think about it, I probably confirm Nochimson’s worst paranoid nightmares.  I’m male, I’m not the rom-com fan, I’m obviously an action and horror fan, and I think Bigelow is superb. Her talent for directing action and violence is spectacular.  I don’t think of her as a ‘man’ (highly insulting if you ask me), but I do imagine her being among the gutsier and stronger directors/producers, male or female (then again you probably can’t direct even a romantic comedy without having those qualities to some degree).

And Near Dark – where do I start?  I entertained the idea of making this post “Twilight v. Near Dark” but that would mean I’d have to watch Twilight again. Besides, Robert Pattinson might sparkle in the daylight, but what soccer mom could resist Bill Paxton’s brutal bloody badass, Severen?

Where are the Team Severen shirts, Twilight moms?

I’m terrible at plot recaps so I’ll spare you tedious point-by-point plot description and spoilers.  Just go watch it! As portrayed by Heroes star and husband of Dixie Chicks’s Natalie Maines Adrian Pasdar, young farm boy Caleb Colton first meets mysterious and winsome Mae (Jenny Wright), who gives him that hickey that changes everything, and then falls in with a clan of hillbilly blood drinkers including Severen and led by former Confederate soldier Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen).  Bleak, bloody western-style showdown antics ensue, to the spacey-dreamy beat of Tangerine Dream and John Parr’s “Naughty, Naughty.”  In the midst of all that chaos you have family looking out for each other, and the passion that Caleb feels for the girl that started all the trouble in the first place.

As a spiritual battle between two dads (Henriksen and Tim Thomerson’s Loy Colton), I have to wonder if Nochimson would feel that Near Dark was robbed of a “female voice.” It’s not unarguable, but I also don’t see the obligation.

Random thoughts:

Wow, I’ve got a lot to learn.  Did you know that Latina sci-fi icon Pvt. Vasquez of Aliens was actually played by Jenette Goldstein, who is in Near Dark as the clan’s “mother” Diamondback?

If you have a burning desire to hear Near Dark‘s amazing soundtrack by Tangerine Dream, or to support this blog by browsing and shopping via these links, please consider clicking the image below:

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