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Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark (1987) crosses the Western with the horror film in one of the most intriguing and smartly scripted films in the vampire subgenre (although the „v“ word is never spoken). While the velvety shadows and expressive lighting effects enhance the eeriness of the undead drifters‘ night world, Bigelow’s keen visual sensibility is also displayed in her stylish Western landscapes; the romance between Caleb and Mae may be gothic, but it’s Southern-Western Gothic. In this hybrid atmosphere, the complex relationships among the vampire „family“ shift sympathies away from the usual human „heroes,“ even as the deliberately paced story is shot through with violently frightening and blackly humorous scenes of vampire mayhem. The charismatic crew’s hedonistic world has its seductions, even if former human Caleb cannot adopt the lifestyle. As vampire initiate Caleb becomes increasingly strung-out from avoiding blood, and the specter of blood exchange invokes death, Near Dark becomes a timely allegory of disease and drug addiction as well as a tale about broken families and Western isolation. Though not a hit in 1987, Near Dark has become a cult favorite and one of the most highly regarded films in Bigelow’s genre-twisting oeuvre., 2010-11-08

Anna Demmelbauer Magdalena Barthofer Maria Fößl Tanja Widmann

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