Near Dark (1987)

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Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) is a young man living in a small farm town meets and falls for a young woman named Mae (Jenny Wright). While they are kissing Mae bites Caleb but can’t bring herself to feed from him. She decides to make Caleb like her, telling him that if he wants to survive then he needs to kill. She brings Caleb back to her group led by Jesse (Lance Henriksen). Jesse tells Mae that if she wants Caleb to stay and become like one of them then he needs to kill someone and feed.

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No matter how much Caleb hungers for blood he can’t bring himself to kill, even as he begins to grow weaker and weaker. Mae tells him that if he doesn’t feed he’ll die from hunger, or Jesse and the rest of the gang will kill him. One of the other members called Severen (Bill Paxton) constantly teases and messes with Caleb, fighting the urge to kill him as he doesn’t believe Caleb can be like them.

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Caleb is told by Jesse that there will be no more delays, he makes a kill and proves himself or dies. Caleb still can’t do it. However things get worse when Jesse and Co. turn on Caleb’s family, leaving Mae as the only one who can help Caleb. All working it’s way towards a bloody and fiery end. A lot of folk say this doesn’t really count as a ‘vampire’ film. I kind of get that as a lot of it is left vague. You never see if they cast reflections or not, or if garlic or crosses affect them. You do however see that they survive on blood and can be killed by sunlight.

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Directed by Kathryn Bigelow this is one of the best vampire films out there. It plays out more like a western, with flashes of violence lighting up the screen. It’s a raw and unflinching action horror with a fantastic cast. It has a lot of faces in the supporting cast that many will recognise. I really enjoy it and I’m sure many others will too.

4/5

JM

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Frailty (2001)

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Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey) enters the offices of FBI Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe). Fenton wants to tell Agent Doyle the information he has on the serial killer the FBI are looking for called the God’s Hand Killer. Fenton tells Doyle that his recently deceased brother Adam is the killer they’re looking for. Agent Doyle asks Fenton how he knows this for certain. Fenton begins by telling Doyle about his father who claimed he had god given powers to see the demons inside ordinary people, and that it was his job to kill them.

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Dad Meiks (Bill Paxton) wakes his young children Fenton and Adam to tell them that an angel visited him in the night. He claimed the angel would give him the power to see the demons inside people and the sins they have committed. The angel also said that Dad would be given tools to help him incapacitate, transport and kill the demons with. Dad would get a name of a demon and find them. He would then touch them and see what they’ve done. The tool he would use to stun them was a metal pole. He would then have to put on gloves to carry them so that he wouldn’t keep seeing their sins. Finally he’d use an axe to kill and dismember the bodies. In order to do this in secret, Dad Meiks has his boys dig a hole in the yard which they can kill in private.

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Young Adam believes his dad has the powers that he claims to have, however young Fenton is not so sure. Fenton thinks his dad is crazy and his making this up. This worry is exacerbated when Dad Meiks claims that the name the angel has given to him is Fenton’s, but that he can’t believe it and thinks he can change the doubts Fenton is having. As thing progress Fenton begins to fear for his life and the safety of any further targets his father claims are demons. Back in the present time Doyle finds the whole story fanciful. However there is one last twist in the tale. You’ll have to watch it to find out.

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This fantastic thriller was directed by Bill Paxton. To my knowledge he has only directed this and one other feature. Based on this film, it’s a shame he doesn’t direct more movies as it really is fantastic. Bill Paxton is on top form as Dad Meiks. Powers Boothe is great as Agent Doyle who really doesn’t buy the story he’s being told, and Matthew McConaughey is great as Fenton Meiks. I know many people haven’t seen this as it was in and out of the cinema faster than a rat up a drainpipe. It is well worth tracking down and watching, the twist is amazing and you won’t see it coming. The definition of cult cinema.

5/5

JM

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