Near Dark

Near Dark is currently available on Amazon Prime.

Near Dark (1987) – Rated R

“A young man reluctantly joins a traveling “family” of evil vampires, when the girl he’d tried to seduce is part of that group.”

“What you people want? ” – “Just a couple more minutes of your time, about the same duration as the rest of your life. “

Please note that I have used some of the older poster art for this film. The new art is absolutely ridiculous. They spend a good deal of time trying to make Near Dark look like Twilight, even going to the extent of making you think that the man is the vampire by changing his skin color. I seriously laughed out loud the first time I saw that art.

Near Dark was directed and co-written by Kathryn Bigelow. Yes, the Kathryn Bigelow who would become the first female to win an Oscar for Best Director (The Hurt Locker). Bigelow’s writing creates complex characters and gives you that wonderful feeling that this world existed before the movie began.

One of the best things about Near Dark is the mini-Aliens reunion. The main vampires are Lance (Bishop) Henriksen as Jesse Hooker, Jenette (Vasquez) Goldstein is Diamondback, and Bill (Hudson) Paxton is Severen. Near Dark is not as good as Aliens but Near Dark is quite good and those three actors work great together.

Honestly the three of them are the best thing about Near Dark. The leads are not bad but any time the vampire family is not on screen, you miss them. The Aliens veterans really chew up the scenery. James Cameron suggested she use his cast and Cameron and Bigelow would later (briefly) marry.

Adrian (Heroes) Pasdar is our protagonist, Caleb, who really gets to pay for hitting on the wrong girl. The quirky Jenny (Young Guns II) Wright has mixed feelings as the newly vampirized Mae. Joshua John Miller is cute as an eternally too young vampire, Homer. Genre veteran Tim Thomerson has a brief role as Caleb’s father.

Near Dark makes wonderful use of the American southwest, even more so than John Carpenter did in Vampires. Bigelow creates some incredible set pieces here, particularly a grueling yet humorous bar scene and a daylight assault on a hotel room. Action is quite good and the only thing I found lacking was the romantic plot. Tangerine Dream contributes a decent score but it is not iconic like the ones for Sorcerer or The Keep.

People Watch: James Cameron has a cameo as the man who flips off Severen.

The Lawnmower Man – King of Horror week

This week we are covering movies based on works by Stephen King. Lawnmower Man is currently available on instant Netflix.

AVOID: The Lawnmower Man (1992) – Rated R for language, sensuality and a scene of violence.

“A developmentally disabled landscaper named Jobe (Jeff Fahey) crosses paths with an obsessed government scientist (Pierce Brosnan) who has something to prove. Thanks to brilliant lab work, the mad doctor unlocks his test subjects potential for genius — and for evil. As Jobes intelligence grows, his pent-up rage begins to boil over. Based on Stephen Kings short story of the same name, the film is a knockout vision of high-tech horror.”

“This technology was meant to expand human communication, but you are not even human any more! What you have become terrifies me. You are a freak!” – “Your naive idiocy makes me VERY ANGRY!”

Bwahaha! I hardly know where to begin with this review.

Okay first let us cover the Stephen King connection. Stephen King wrote a short story titled The Lawnmower Man. The film claimed to be based on the short story. Hysterically it only has a slight tangential connection to that story in that the events that take place in it are mentioned briefly in the film.

Naturally, Stephen King sued (successfully) and had his name removed from the film. This however has not stopped Netflix and others from describing this as a Stephen King flick.

The opening scene where our scientist has used “aggression drugs” on his lab monkey is absolutely hysterical. The monkey apparently had too much because, while wearing a goofy virtual reality outfit, finishes the program, escapes, and grabs a handgun from the holster of a guard and blows his head off.

Brett Leonard is responsible for this unintentional laugh fest. He not only directed but co-wrote it with producer Gimel Everett. Keep in mind when watching this (if you must) that the King story was not even about virtual reality.

Strangely this is a virtual reality update of the classic science fiction story, “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes. Only in addition to becoming more intelligent, Jobe also becomes EVIL!

This is because apparently giving someone the ability to learn Latin (or anything else) in two hours is not enough of a military operation. This causes the military to switch the drugs they are giving Jobe into the “aggression” ones they gave the monkey that worked out so well in the opening scene.

Not content with botching this movie about virtual reality, Brett Leonard would go on to make Virtuosity, another bad virtual reality movie.

Pierce Brosnan is actually pretty terrible here as the scientist. I think it might be because he was embarrassed by the script. Perhaps real cutting edge techno-scientists do not have a game room/laboratory that looks dated even for 1992. Thankfully Brosnan caught his TV-to-movie career break when he was picked as the new Bond for Goldeneye.

Jeff Fahey is fun as Jobe. He definitely does not give the heartfelt performance that Cliff Robertson gave in Charly (the real adaptation of Flowers for Algernon) but he has a keen grasp of B-movie acting. He is in really good shape here and has quite a stare with those striking ice blue eyes of his. Currently Fahey can be seen as Frank Lapidus on Lost.

Also having fun here is a very attractive Jenny Wright as the sexually adventurous Marnie Burke. Veteran character actor Geoffrey Lewis plays Terry McKeen, a sort of father figure to Jobe.

The plot makes almost no sense. They throw in every possible lawnmower reference they can even though that did not really have anything to do with the King story.

Apparently as soon as you become halfway intelligent, you realize that maybe you want to cut the hair BLOCKING YOUR VISION! After that when you become evil, you apparently acquire a new hairdo as well.

The final act is ridiculous beyond comprehension and I mean literally beyond comprehension. There are a dozen or so guards armed with shotguns just standing in the open doing nothing. When their heads begin bothering them, they cannot think clearly enough to shoot the approaching vehicle but apparently have the presence of mind to move out of the way. Immediately after that they have no problem shooting at something else.

Is there any cliche more hackneyed than the bomb on a timer? Seriously does no one use remote detonators? Heck even a length of fuse would work better.

Later Dr. Angelo (Brosnan) does something inexplicably moronic BECAUSE THE SCRIPT TELLS HIM TO. Unfortunately this too close to the end for me to discuss without spoilers.

People Watch: Doug Hutchison has a small role here as a Security Tech. He would later play the uber-creepy Eugene Victor Tooms on two episodes of X-Files and Horace Goodspeed in seven episodes of Lost.