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Feature Face-Off: Near Dark vs. The Lost Boys

conder this an extenon of my "Character Collion" pieces...

When in discuson regarding the best vampire film of the 1980’s, it’s likely a slew of quality features will be mentioned. There’s a good reason for that: the 80’s saw the inception of quite a few impresve vampire pictures. Common titles to arise in this form of debate include TO DIE FOR, FRIGHT NIGHT, THE HUNGER, LIFEFORCE, VAMPIRE’S KISS and many, many others. In the end however, it always seems to come down to two seemingly clear-cut front-runners: THE LOST BOYS, and NEAR DARK. Attractive casts, and unique scenery clearly help to separate these two films from the majority of the pack, but the fanatic within me pushed me to really study these two films, because after all: I too want to know what the best vampire film of the 1980’s truly was.

Behold, the fruits of my labor:


The tale of Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) Colton, who stumbles upon the beautiful drifter Mae (Jenny Wright) takes a quick nasty turn that will alter the course of Caleb, and his families lives. This random stranger just so happens to be a vampire, traveling with a hideous band of blood suckers through Texas in search of their next meal. When Caleb begins his sexual advances, Mae can’t rest taking a bite. Apparently one bite is all Mae requires to get attached, because before we know it, Caleb is in the middle of this group of plasma thieves, and their savage journey of survival, and what‘s worse: he‘s now rapidly turning into a vampire himself.

The rest of Mae’s traveling buddies don’t take too kind to this new addition, and force Caleb to either kill, and complete his group initiation - or die himself. Caleb, clinging to humanity can’t bring himself to make his first kill, thus becoming a target of these tranent savages. Things get real interesting when Caleb’s father (Tim Thomerson) and ster (Marcie Leeds) find themselves tangled up with Mae’s gang. What transpires within the final reel is a battle between humanity and vampirism, as Caleb must defeat those who aim to destroy him, and his family.

There are some great perks to this low budget shiner. The atmosphere is wonderful. The rural, western setting is territory rarely ventured (in this genre), and the steadfast darkness of the film manifests constant anticipation of the awful. The cast is great; Lance Henrikson provides one of his best performances as Jesse, the leader of this ensemble, and Bill Paxton (as Severen) is maniacally appeang. Jenette Goldstein rounds out an impresve group. The plot works well (and has been mimicked many times nce), the cinematography is solid, and the gore, while reserved is impresve at times. My two complaints in regard to this film: 1) The action slows dramatically at times. 2) There’s some stiff dialog that fails to capitalize on the power of a few of the films key scenes.

THE BREAKDOWN: Cast/Acting: 7.3 Atmosphere/Sets/Location: 8.9 Fear Factor: 5.5 Makeup/Mechanical Effects: 7.5 Replay Value: 6.9 Total Score: 36.1


Lucy (Dianne Wiest) Emerson moves her two sons Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) to the town of Santa Carla California. The trio move in with Lucy’s father (Barnard Hughes), a quirky taxidermist with some unusual habits. Everything seems to be in order, Lucy finds a job, and the boys quickly take to the night life. Michael, the eldest of the two also takes a liking to Star (Jami Gertz), an attractive local who happens to hang with a group of nasty bikers led by David (Kiefer Sutherland). While Michael chases Star, Sam ventures into a comic book shop, located on the boardwalk. Here, Sam meets Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Allen (Jamison Newlander) Frog, two obsesve, self-proclaimed vampire hunters. They tip Sam off, but the idea of real life blood suckers in Santa Carla just doesn’t fly with him, and he disregards multiple warnings.

It turns out the erratic Frog brothers are right about Santa Carla - there are vampires here, they’re busy hanging out with Star and the love-struck Michael. It isn’t long before Michael’s drinking blood, sleeping his days away and growing some impresve incisors. Sam and the Frog brothers devise a plan to exterminate the main vampire, and save Michaels humanity - but this clumsy crew of makeshift mercenaries botch the job, and they‘ll all be forced to face the consequences.

There’s one reason, above all that this film stands out amongst most others: it’s highly enjoyable. When a motion picture is genuinely fun, it holds gnificant replay value, and that’s where Joel Schumacher won big. LOST BOYS never lulls. From the teaser, through every act leading up to an exciting finale, LOST BOYS just doesn’t slow down. The scene trantions are very smooth, and the cinematography is busy, but not too busy. The cast is excellent; Kiefer Sutherland is a menacing villain, Jason Patric is great in the shoes of the afflicted hero, and hey - we get Haim and Feldman before excesve drug use had completely diminished their then proming talents. Santa Cruz was a choice location to film, and between the appealing scenery and some extremely well fleshed out characters, we’re treated to great atmospheric illumination. All in all, LOST BOYS is a little action, a little humor and a lot of horror that, to this day - remains a serious fan favorite.

THE BREAKDOWN: Cast/Acting: 8.1 Atmosphere/Sets/Location: 9.0 Fear Factor: 5 Makeup/Mechanical Effects: 7.5 Replay Value: 8 Total Score: 37.6

There you have it, according to my personal judging criteria LOST BOYS edges NEAR DARK by a meager 1.5 points. It’s definitely not a landslide victory, but in the end - the replay value sees me leaning in Schumacher’s direction. Regardless - win, lose, or draw, both of these films are great, and deserving of the cult followings they’ve earned.
Matt_Molgaard Wednesday 10/05/2011 at 05:04 PM | 83848