Halloween Scene: Near Dark (1987)

I can’t tell you how much I wanted to love Near Dark. First off, it’s a horror movie directed by an Academy Award winner (not to mention the director of the awesome Point Break). Yup, that’s right, Kathryn Bigelow directed this vampire flick starring Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Tim Thomserson and Adrian Pasdar. Sounds like a pretty great line-up, doesn’t it?

Well, it is a good line-up, but I just could not get into this movie. Yes, the fact that it’s about a pack of vamps living in the west is kind of a nice change of pace, but the fact that it’s about a new vampire (Pasdar) who doesn’t really want to be vampire trying to figure out what he’s going to do with his unlife just felt SO been-there-done-that that I did care. In my mind I kept comparing it to John Carpenter’s Vampires (that’s probably sacrilege, I know, but I saw that movie first) and From Dusk Till Dawn. Oh, and Lost Boys, it reminded me a lot of Lost Boys without the fun of being able to watch the two Coreys doing their thang.

So, yeah, the basic plot was boring, even though the vampires were fun to watch. The combo of Henriksen and Paxton was fantastic. Actually, I should say not all the vamps were fun. Homer–played by Joshua John Miller who I also hated in Class of 1999–posed a pretty big problem for me in the movie and not just because I dislike the actor so intensely. See, the idea is that he was a kid when he was turned into a vampire, but like Claudia from Interview With A Vampire, he ages metnally while his exterior remains the same. He even goes on about how much it sucks to me an old man in a young kid body. Yet, later in the movie, he becomes obsessed with Pasdar’s younger sister (her and his dad have been out looking for him while he’s been gallivanting around with the vamps). If he’s an old man, why is he going after young girls unless he a pedopire, which just makes the whole thing way creepier than expected. I get that he might want to turn her now and then wait for her to mature, so they can be creepy old people trapped in young bodies together, but it really looks like he’s lusting after her in the movie and it’s just gross.

The ending of the movie’s also pretty stupid. Let’s call this SPOILER TERRITORY in case you’re worried about having a 23 year old movie spoiled for you. See, Pasdar stops being a vampire because his dad gives him a complete blood transfusion. That’s just plain stupid, especially considering these are pretty standard vampires with super strength, healing abilities and an aversion to daylight. There’s got to be something mystical going on there and not just a blood disease. If you’re going to set up rules in your story, you have to follow them a little better.

Ah well, there you go. I actually watched this one a few days ago and then I got to see Expendables and Scott Pilgrim, so I ended up in the plus column movie-wise this week.

‘Point’ Taken: A Point Break Review

2008-05-23
4:42:50 am

Woah. I think I fell in love with Point Break tonight. I’d heard about it over the years, am a big Swayze fan and have even seen the Mythbusters episode that talks about the parachuting scenes (I mean, a movie’s gotta be pretty rad if the Mythbusters take it on…or completely ridiculous). If nothing else, I now want to jump out of an airplane, rob a bank, surf and hang out with Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze and Lori Petty. Anyway, let’s jump into:

Point Break (1991)

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Written by Rick King & W. Peter Iliff

Starring Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Gary Busey, Lori Petty, John C. McGinley, Anthony Kiedis & Tom Sizemore (for a second)

Okay, so I’ve gotten a few complaints (really, just from Em, but she’s the only one that I’ve heard from next to Ben and Rickey) that the reviews zoom in on the plot a bit too much, so I’m going to try and keep the summarizing up and the in-depth plot reviews down (we’ll see how that works out).

Here’s the basic plot, Keanu plays Johnny Utah, an FBI agent who recently transfered to the robbery unit in LA. His partner is Gary Busey who actually plays one of the less crazy dudes in the movie. They’re trying to bring down a group of bank robbers calling themselves the Ex Presidents (they put on president masks while pulling their jobs). Busey’s got this crazy idea that the robbers are actually surfers (apparently the other agents consider this a crackpot theory, it sounds like good detective work to me, but what do I know?). So, to try and figure out which gang of surfers knocks off banks only during the summer months, Utah goes undercover, gets Lori Petty to teach him to surf and ingratiates himself to a group of surfers including Swayze who plays Bodhi, the lead bank robber. They become friendly, which, of course leads to conflict, much of which takes place while skydiving.

I love this cast. I used to wonder whether Keanu got a bad wrap or if he was just really good at playing the roles he was given. Honestly, I’m still not sure what the deal with him is, but he has some of the most awesomely bad lines in action movie history in this flick (“You’re sayin’ the FBI’s gonna pay me to learn to surf?” “You’re cold because all of the blood is running out of your body Roach. You’re gonna be dead soon. I hope it was worth it.”). Any way you look at it he’s an incredibly entertaining actor, especially as a surfing FBI agent.

And who can deny Swayze’s awesomeness? Have you seen Road House? They even reference it here with a throwaway line mentioning a place called Patrick’s Road House. Nice touch, writers. Whether he’s talking about “feeling waves” or doing crazy ballet and dance moves after jumping out of a plane, this dude is just so freakin’ charismatic that you can’t help but buy into his “sticking it to the man” BS, even though, by the end of the movie, you realize he’s really just a stone-cold psycho with one thing in mind: getting to the 50 year storm.

Also, why isn’t Lori Petty in more stuff? She’s great in everything she does (League of their Own, Tank Girl, Livewire on Superman the Animated Series and even Free Willy). As usual, she has an innocence that really grabs me, even though she’s playing tough broad. Speaking of tough, Gary Busey kills it, as usual, but this time he’s a good guy. Not sure if I’ve ever seen him play a good guy in a movie (or real life), but it was a nice change that he pulled off with his usual crazy bravado.

Okay, so I clearly liked the cast, but I also dug the flick itself. Yeah, it’s about 2 hours, but I feel like there’s always something on screen that kept me interested. You’ve got car chases, foot chases, beach football, surfing, sky diving, sky diving without a parachute, Dakota shooting at the sky (thanks to Hot Fuzz for so eloquently showing me this scene already), bank robberies, masks, sex, a crazy surfer party and even a fight with a group of dudes that looked like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and turned out to actually feature Anthony Kiedis of RHCP (go figure).

And, even though Mythbusters told me that, not only couldn’t Johnny Utah jump out of a plane, grab onto Swayze, pull his shoot, hold on REAL tight and not die, but wouldn’t even be able to hold the mid-air conversations, I still loved the climactic scene. Dang that was just cool (I don’t think I can swear on here, so you’ll just have to deal with my lame swear fill-ins). I even thought Swayze was gonna get away in the end and would have been happy with the film ending in Mexico (like I said, he’s freakin’ charismatic), but the last few minutes in Australia give us a cathartic fight between our good guy and oh-so-likable bad guy resulting in his (maybe) death while surfing the biggest wave in 50 years.

If there’s one movie that I’d like to see continued in a comic, it’s this one. If IDW could do a serviceable job with Scarface (and I think they did, assuming you can get past the fact that Tony’s not dead), why not Point Break? What happens to Johnny after he tosses his badge in the ocean? Does Bodhi die? What happens to Lori Petty and Keanu’s relationship? How does jail treat Anthony Kiedis? Does John C. McGinley (Keanu and Busey’s superior) ever relax? What does Tom Sizemore’s DEA agent (IRONY!) do after Johnny accidentally ruins his bust? There’s so MANY questions. I’ll make this public offer, if writers Rick King & W. Peter Iliff don’t want to take a crack at it, I’m game. I’ve got this thing half-way plotted already and I only finished the movie 30 minutes ago. Your move, other guys!