HTF REVIEW: "Near Dark" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Aug 16, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Near Dark

    Studio: Anchor Bay
    Year: 1987
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 94 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)

    ...pray for daylight.
    You know, I love vampire movies! Some of my
    all-time favorites include Bram Stoker's Dracula
    to Interview With A Vampire to The Lost Boys.
    With that in mind, I sort of feel guilty that I
    wasn't overly impressed with Near Dark, a
    rather lackluster vampire story that never really
    gets to the meaty flesh.
    When Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) falls head over
    heels for a mysterious trailer trash beauty queen
    named Mae (Jenny Wright), she assures him that she's
    unlike any girl he has met before. It's now love
    at first bite when Caleb gets smitten and bitten
    by the beautiful blonde -- a bite that leads him
    on his way to becoming a vampire himself.
    Caleb soon finds himself kidnapped by a rouge
    gang of vampire derelicts lead by a bloodthirsty
    Severen (Bill Paxton), Father figure Jesse (Lance
    Henriksen), Mother figure Diamondback (Jenette
    Golstein) and a bratty little boy named Homer
    (Josua Miller). This is Mae's family, and they
    want nothing more than to get rid of the menace
    that has disrupted their lives.
    The gang soon finds out that Caleb is turning
    into a vampire himself. If he is to join them,
    he must learn to hunt and kill like the others.
    When the vampire gang's midnight assault upon
    an isolated honky tonk bar goes wrong, it sets
    off a massive state-wide police manhunt.
    The problem I had with Near Dark is that
    it never reaches its potential with the camera
    always shying away from what could be gruesome
    vampire killings. The film never builds any
    suspense, but rather comes off as a "Party Of Five"
    vampire film.
    How is the transfer?
    I pretty much expected the picture quality to
    reflect the production value. While the print
    is in extremely good condition, virtually blemish
    free, the overall picture quality seems more muddy
    as the captured screenshots show. Though the screen
    shots are a bit darker than what I saw on my monitor,
    I still found the daylit scenes downright too dark
    and night scenes that were so dark there was detail
    loss. Since most of the film takes place at night,
    you may find yourself losing some of the film's
    details amongst all the darkness.
    The 5.1 DTS track is generally uneven. Let's
    start with the dialogue, that comes across rather
    weak in the center channel. Then there's the film
    synthesized score (by Tangerine Dream) that most
    of the time lacks dynamic range, but at other times
    whose lower chords inflicted terrific LFE response
    from my subwoofer. Although it seems that there
    is surround information being sent to the rears,
    the overall sound level in those channels are low,
    thus making noticeable support for the effects far
    and few.
    Special Features
    Near Dark arrives in a 2-disc "definitive
    version" that comes packaged in a tri-fold case
    with a holographic foil slipcase. The DVDs sit
    in plastic hub housing which is raised above still
    shots of Mae and Caleb.
    In the far left pocket sits a pop-out picture
    of Homer. Behind him slips out a 16-page collector
    booklet that features poster artwork, publicity
    stills, facts about the film, chapter stops, and
    a very thorough introduction by our friend,
    Michael Felsher, who talks about the film's journey
    from theatrical release to disappearance to eventual
    resurrection on DVD.
    Disc One contains the movie itself. You
    have the option of playback in 5.1 Dolby Digital,
    2.0 Dolby Surround or DTS.
    Let me again get on my soapbox and kick and
    scream over the fact that this is yet another
    release on DVD that totally ignores the hearing
    impaired public by not offering subtitles of any
    kind. When are some of these smaller studios
    going to learn that there is a large population
    out there that depends on subtitles?
    There is a full-length commentary by
    Director Kathryn Bigelow that starts off with
    a story about how a mosquito was grown
    specifically for the film's first scene. From
    that point on, the commentary goes on quite
    lazily with Kathryn sounding more like comedian
    Steven Wright as she mumbles her way through
    what seems to be pointless observations. At
    one point she talks about how her cast ensemble
    took everything so seriously although the material
    in the film wasn't. She talks about treating her
    actors with great respect, and using rehearsels
    to hone in on their acting talents.
    Okay, off the soapbox and on to Disc Two
    which holds all the supplemental material.
    One of the best highlights of this set is the
    newly produced documentary, Living In Darkness
    which successfully reunites the entire cast and
    film team for a fresh retrospective on the film.
    Director Kathryn Bigelow talks about how the script
    was actually one of two that both she and Eric Red
    were working on (the other was UNDERTOW). Kathryn
    was interested in adding a western flavor to this
    horror film which eventually became a sexually-
    orientated vampire film. Kathryn did a lot of
    research on the vampire mythology in order to
    add more realism to the film. Producers Edward
    Feldman and Steve-Charles Jaffe were quite impressed
    with the script, but uncertain as Kathryn's
    qualifications as a Director (this was her first
    solo outing). Bill Paxton talks about how he was
    attracted to the film by it's Bonnie & Clyde
    elements, while Lance Henriksen, just coming off
    of doing "Aliens" with Paxton was quite hesitant
    about coming aboard, that is, until he read the
    script and became excited. Lance contributed many
    of the ideas that made up his character. Adrian
    Pasdar talks about the rigors of filming where he
    worked all night and slept all day, very much like
    his vampire persona. The cast talks about the
    taxing conditions of sleeping at truck stops and
    filming during the night. It's interesting to hear
    a story about how putrid cigar smoke was added to
    the vampire characters burning in the sun. The
    documentary ends by giving us an idea of how the
    film was poorly marketed and released in an
    untimely manner. But time has actually been
    kind to the film, as it has been elevated over the
    years to a cult status.
    (length: approx: 47 minutes)
    There is one deleted scene that was
    originally filmed in B&W with infra-red to be
    added later. The scene is of Mae and Caleb in
    the desert. The scene is supposed to convey
    what it feels like to be a vampire and look upon
    the night for the first time. The scene is
    complimented with commentary by Director Kathryn
    There are five sets of original storyboards
    from key sequences in the film. These are single
    window illustrations only (not played against the
    film in a separate window), and cannot be manually
    controlled. The images do run in sequence at a very
    nice pace against the synthesized sounds of the
    film's soundtrack.
    The poster and still gallery lets you use
    your remote to browse through dozens upon dozens
    of publicity stills, behind-the-camera shots and
    poster artwork.
    As we tally up the extras on this DVD we come
    to a set of 2 theatrical trailers and a
    really in-depth set of talent bios that
    do more than just list films, but rather tell
    a complete story of that person's life and career
    in page upon page of text.
    There is DVD-ROM content that contains
    screensavers and the film's original screenplay.
    Final Thoughts
    Perhaps I have been a little too harsh on my
    review of Near Dark. I can understand
    why this stylish tale of modern-day vampires
    has earned its cult status. It's a well told
    tale that incorporates family values into a
    cold-blooded vampire story. I just wish that
    the film had a harder edge to it.
    I must commend Anchor Bay for releasing a
    very handsome 2-disc set full of some terrific
    extras including a new documentary that really
    shines. Fans that have been waiting so
    patiently for this film to resurface since it
    went out of print on tape nearly a decade ago,
    will be applauding its resurrection on DVD.
    Release Date: September 10, 2002
  2. Michael Allred

    Michael Allred Screenwriter

    Aug 13, 2000
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    Real Name:
    lol, I was *just* wondering if Ron was gonna review this DVD and here it is.

    Personally, I really dig this flick.
  3. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

    May 19, 2001
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  4. jacob w k

    jacob w k Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 17, 2002
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    I remember reading reviews of the film where they stated that it was a romantic vampire film and it sured seemed like it was to me. I'd rather watch From Dusk till Dawn but it wasn't a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination.
  5. Mike_S

    Mike_S Stunt Coordinator

    Jan 1, 2000
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    Ron, I won't quibble with the fact that you didn't think much of NEAR DARK. Many consider it a 'cult classic'. I would put myself in that camp and will buy the DVD. It's interesting that right after your comments about the vampire assault on the honky tonk bar you mention that the camera 'shy's away' from what could have been gruesome vampire killings (or words to that effect). Well the camera sure didn't shy away in THAT scene which IMO was one of the most gruesome and disturbing scenes I've ever seen in any film. I enjoy reading your reviews whether I agree with your assessment of it or not (including this one). I look forward to reading more of your reviews in the future.

  6. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

    Dec 4, 2001
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    Already on my list for purchase. Looks like Anchor Bay did a pretty decent job on it. Another excellent vampire flick to cross off my wish list once I have it in my possession. Next on my list is Horror Of Dracula. [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. Justin_S

    Justin_S Producer

    Mar 4, 2001
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    Too bad you didn't think much of this classic. My copy has been preordered for a while now, and I can't wait till it arrives, because this is one of my absolute favorite films! Classic in every sense of the word! [​IMG]
  8. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

    Aug 3, 2002
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    Wasn't this movie shot in anamorphic? 35mm Panavision? IMDb states that the aspect ratio is 2.35:1. This transfer is 1.85:1? Hmmm... I guess I've been wrong all these years - I thought it was shot in Panavision. Great film. Not as good as The Lost Boys though... :wink:

    Heh heh heh!

  9. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

    Feb 23, 2000
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  10. Frank Anderson

    Frank Anderson Cinematographer

    Jun 7, 1999
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    One of my all time favorite films. I can't wait to get it. Sorry you don't care for it Ron. I haven't pre-ordered it yet. Most sites don't offer a significant savings on this title so I guess I will just slip in to Best Buy and pick it up.
  11. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

    Apr 7, 2000
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    My Wife is hearing impaired as is numerous friends of ours. They all prefer Subtitles over closed captions by far.
    1. Subtitles are far more pleasing to the eye.
    2. Subtitles when done right stay at the bottom of the screen - captions jump all over it.
    3. Closed Captions have obtrusive black boxes that interfere with the picture.

    I know that there are HTF members who are hearing impaired who have stated the same thing in the past about CC vs Subtitles.

    I really don't think you have the right to speak for the Hearing Impaired Community as a "little bit of trivia".
  12. Martin Jeeves

    Martin Jeeves Supporting Actor

    Oct 18, 2000
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    What happened to Jenny Wright (Mae)? In the documentary at the end they talk about her as if something bad has happened to her. Anyone know?
  13. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

    Feb 23, 2000
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    Whoa there, who the hell said I was speaking for the deaf community? That was clearly meant as a bit of personal trivia, and you are not the only person who has hearing impaired people in their life, my girlfriend & her deaf brother and cousin as well as my cousin and two hearing impaired men I work with all have stated that DVD player generated subtitles are not "pleasing" to there eyes and in the case of Universal titles flat out hate (in my girlfriend and cousin's opinions) the fact that they only offer player generated subtitles/captions and that the way that Universal does them (extremely large and overlaying on top of the image instead of underneath) "is very distracting". As I said this was a personal observation gathered from friends & family and I am not sure how on earth you drew from my statement that I somehow thought I was speaking for the entire deaf population.
  14. JasonRH

    JasonRH Second Unit

    Jan 8, 2001
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    I just read your post in response to Kevin's comments. I'm with him in that I don't see where you can read into his comments that he is speaking for the hearing impaired community. He clearly stated that he was referring to "most people he knows". How is that any different than you listing off people you know and using them to refute his observations??
    Also, what does Anchor Bay's policy of a year ago have to do with Ron's recent review and Kevin's correcting what he missed??
    I know when writing you often can't get a real sense of what someone is trying to convey but you seem to have taken some kind of small offense based on your reply to Kevin. Offense to what I have no idea. I may be reading it wrong and sorry if I did.
    p.s. Kevin, I know you don't need a stranger defending your statements but I thought his remarks were jumping the gun a bit [​IMG]
  15. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Let me try to ease the air on this a bit...

    I don't want a war of words to break out over
    this issue. This is my fault -- I have overlooked
    the fact that this title was closed captioned,
    I apologize. In fact -- looking at the box, it
    does indeed state Closed Captioning at the bottom.

    It's easy for a person who is has severe hearing
    problems to identify CC than a person like myself.
    I don't use close captioning on my television. I
    only need the aid of subtitles during noisy films.
    Every TV I have seen puts an ugly black box at
    the bottom of the screen that obscures the picture.

    Subtitles are a far more (for lack of better word)
    dignified way of being able to watch a film with
    the text placed neatly out of the way of the picture.

    How difficult is it for subtitles to be added to
    films these days? It's far easier for those of us
    that only occasionaly use the aid of text during
    watching a film (vs. broadcast) to use our DVD
    remote to bring up a subtitle menu.

    Just a suggestion for Anchor Bay in their future
  16. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

    Feb 23, 2000
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    By the way, I actually like some player generated sub's over standard CC.
    Criterion & Fox would be excellent examples of how to do them right.
    Universal(I agree, too big & in the way) & Columbia(yellow...yuck!) would IMO be good examples of how not to do them.
    More on topic, does anyone remember what Near Dark's theatrical presentation looked like? I don't remember it being as muddy as those screen shots look.
  17. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

    Apr 7, 2000
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    My apologies. I assumed wrongly that you had no intimate personal experience with the hearing impaired and that you were just being a devils advocate.

    I'm also a bit overly sensitive to the matter of subtitles & CC. A few years ago a nameless HTF member (not you) who wasn't hearing impaired would always post statements about how English subtitles are unnecessary as long as discs are CC. Needless to say it always irked the hell out of me.

    again my apologies.
  18. Roy Batty

    Roy Batty Second Unit

    Aug 6, 2001
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    Real Name:
    Jose M Mendez
    And don't you forget about us foreign customers.
    I'm from Spain, and 'though I'm somewhat fluent in English, I certainly preffer to have the aid of subtitles. And CC don't do the trick for me, because, as widely spread as they can be in the USA, CC decoders are non-existant on spanish TV sets.
    I really can't see the reasoning behind choosing Closed Captions instead of Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired, since the latter would work for everyone, while the former are useless to those of us without a decoder.
    And, since we are at it, why do the studios provide subtitles or CC for the main feature, but not for the bonus materials?
    P.s. Please, don't read into my post any disregard for Hearing-Impaired people needs, I'm just stating a foreigner point of view.
  19. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

    Feb 23, 2000
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    You know I really don't want to belabor this off topic point anymore...and I won't![​IMG]
    I've deleted this post & started a new thread on the subject because this thread is about Ron's Near Dark review and not the whole Closed Captioning Vs. Subtitle debate.
  20. Matthew Chmiel

    Matthew Chmiel Cinematographer

    Apr 26, 2000
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    My copy of the DVD came the other day. I finally watched it last night and I was disappointed by it. The film had so much potential to be a great horror film and it was all wasted. But I will admit the bar scene was pretty cool.
    I'll probably go through the second disc today, that is if my Blade II DVD (now that's a great vampire flick) doesn't show up. [​IMG]

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