NEAR DARK (1987)
This is one of the crown jewels in the overlooked list of 80s horror, that due to poor advertising and a genre-defying storyline, fell to the side to make room for unending franchise sequels and generic slasher rip-offs. Here, the vampire mythos is turned completely on its head, and remains to this day a unique entry in the genre. In NEAR DARK these "nightwalkers" do not call themselves vampires (the word itself is never even mentioned in the film), are not aristocratic, do not have fangs or fly, and more-so do not even enjoy being what they are. These are "cursed" souls doomed to live forever, and have taken a nasty turn to violence and cruel humor to pass their evenings.
Much like a pop-punk song right out of the 80s, NEAR DARK has a tremendously enjoyable flux between chaotic and noisy choruses, and soft and melodic verses. Bigelow cuts her teeth on just about every action style, which she would later incorporate into her following productions. Between a holed-up hotel shootout with some inventive ideas that would later be seen in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, car and foot chases, and tense one-on-one stand-offs including a western-style showdown between a vampire and a semi-truck, there is a little something for everyone.
Although failing at the box office, NEAR DARK has gone on to collect a dedicated following through the years in the home video and DVD circuit. It is one of the more unique releases from the 80s, and through some impressive practical special effects work on a low-end budget it has aged quite gracefully, and has avoided being trapped in the constriction that is known as "80s horror". Sadly, as with many films that have enough of a cult following to make the name marketable but not well-known enough to leave it be, a remake is being planned. No word has been set as to how faithful the adaptation will be, or who is attached, but it is coming. Hunt down a copy of the now out-of-print Anchor Bay released 2-disc DVD set that gives the film the justice it is due.