The Labeque Sisters – Near Dark – tape 1338

Up first on this tape, The Labeque Sisters, a documentary looking at pianists Katia and Marielle Labeque, who were credited with reviving the tradition of piano duos.

Katia and Marielle Labeque

This is a fairly bog-standard documentary. There’s not much of a story to be told, but the frequent clips of the sisters playing in concert are great. You feel, though, that a straight concert film would have been just as entertaining.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 24th October 1992 – 19:35

After this, recording switches to Sky Movies for a cult classic, Kathryn Bigelow’s midwestern vampire movie Near Dark.

I know this film has its admirers, but the couple of times I’ve tried to watch it, I just haven’t been carried along by it. Which is odd because I’ve enjoyed other films she’s made, particularly Blue Steel, and it’s packed with actors I like to watch. So why don’t I love it?

It stars Adrian Pasdar, a name which was vaguely familiar but I couldn’t place it. His first film was Top Gun, and he spent the 80s and 90s in a lot of forgettable stuff, but the reason his name was familiar, as I discovered perusing iMDb, was that he played Nathan Petrelli in Heroes.

Adrian Pasdar

Here he plays a young cowboy type in a dusty American town, who picks up a young girl, Mae (Jenny Wright). Things are going fine until she bites him on the neck. After that, he’s not feeling too good.

Jenny Wright

He tries to get back home, as the sun’s coming up, but as he nears his father’s farm, an RV comes past and he’s bundled inside. It’s the ‘family’ of Mae, a motley looking group led by Lance Henrickson.

Lance Henrickson

We know they’re vampires, and Mae has turned Pasdar into one. Henrickson says that Pasdar can have a week to ‘show he’s one of us’. But he doesn’t know what they’re talking about, because the don’t explain anything to him.

So he’s stuck in a different town, feeling really ill, so he tries to go home. There’s a very long sequence of him trying to buy a bus ticket, not having enough money, being hassled by a detective (?) who thinks he’s on drugs, but who gives him the money for the ticket, getting on the bus, but then being too ill to travel, and getting off the bus and going back to Mae and family. Five minutes of screen time are spent on this entirely pointless digression. And I thought Bigelow was the action director.

Mae lets him drink some of her blood, and he feels a lot better.

Meanwhile back at home, Pasdar’s father, the great Tim Thomerson, wakes from a nightmare. He’s looking for his son, but the local Sheriff isn’t much help.

Tim Thomerson

Meanwhile, Pasdar has to learn to feed, and he’s not having much success. After a failed attempt to feed on a truck driver, the family go to a bar, where they behave quite disgracefully. Bill Paxton in particular is loving this lifestyle.

Bill Paxton

What I don’t quite understand is why the other customers in the bar haven’t at least tried to run away. After about five minutes of throat cutting and general mayhem, there’s still a pasty teenager at the pool tables, holding a pool cue looking at what’s happening.

They spend the night in a shack, but the police turn up in the morning, and there’s a good shootout, with bright sunlight coming through the holes made by the bullets, causing problems for our vampires. And Pasdar earns his keep by going and getting their blacked out van to rescue them all.

But the end up at the same motel where Pasdar’s dad, Thomerson, and his little sister are staying, and of course the creepy young/old vampire Homer finds her and brings her back to the motel room. Pasdar, of course, doesn’t want anything to happen to his family, and they manage to escape, and Thomerson gives Pasdar a blood transfusion, which completely cures him. Not quite sure why this would work, but let’s not quibble.

Henrikson and the family aren’t done yet, as they’re still out for blood. The rest of the film plays out with the family pursuing Pasdar and sister, until the sun comes up, and Mae jumps out of the blacked out car with the sister, leading young Homer to do the same – not a good idea with the sun coming up, leading to some impressive fire effects and a flaming Homer.

Flaming Homer

Rather surprisingly, the film has a happy ending, with Pasdar curing Mae of her vampirism with another transfusion, and ending with a loving embrace.

This is undeniably stylish, and the score, by synth-rock pioneers Tangerine Dream. I guess I don’t love it because small town America, rednecks and bar fights aren’t really my idea of entertainment. Plus, it does drag until the last half hour.

After this, recording continues with the start of a movie, it’s directed by Fred Olen Ray, so hopes aren’t high for a classic. It’s called Deep Space, and at least it’s got Charles Napier and Julie Newmar in it.

There’s about 45 minutes of this classic before the tape ends.


  • Babycham
  • Kingsmill
  • St Ivel Shape Yoghurt
  • HP Sauce
  • trail: Predator 2
  • Legacy Tights
  • UK Gold
  • Fererro Rocher
  • Uncle Ben’s
  • Oil of Ulay
  • SNES – Street Fighter
  • National Savings
  • Playtex
  • UK Gold
  • Save Energy
  • trail: Highlander

One comment

  1. Near Dark is at least better than anything by Fred Olen Ray, or much of the STV stuff in horror in the 80s, but I’d agree it’s not quite as perfect as some of its contemporaries: The Hitcher is probably better, for example. Always thought the ending was a letdown, it shrugs off the nightmare as if Pasdar’s alarm clock has rung and he’s waking up refreshed to face the day. Actually, that doesn’t sound too bad.

    If you want to feel depressed, check out a recent video of Jenny Wright interviewed on YouTube and you’ll understand why she hasn’t been acting in these past couple of decades.

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