From Nosferatu to Thirst, films have tried to capture the shadowy, seductive figure of the vampire. Writer Anne Billson chronicles the creature’s evolution.
Slide Nine: Near Dark (1987)
Near Dark, Kathryn Bigelow's languid vampire western features several of the supporting cast of Aliens as white-trash vampire-travelers who roam the Mid-West to a dreamy electronic soundtrack by Tangerine Dream. If Martin was marginalized, these vampires have severed all links to polite society and instead function like nomadic serial killers, bunking down in seedy motels, covering the windows of their RV with light-tight cooking foil and stopping at isolated roadside bars to feed off the redneck clientele. When one of them snogs a corn-fed farmboy, leaving him with a thirst for blood, they kidnap him and try to convert him to their lifestyle, but he resists and his condition is finally cured, in a process which has its equivalent in Stoker's novel, with a blood transfusion. Bigelow plays up the metaphor for disease — the film was made at the height of the panic about AIDS — and the film's first image is that of a bloodsucking mosquito. These vampires are a long way from the aristocrats of yore, with Joshua Miller particularly disquieting as an old man trapped in the body of a pubescent boy, and Lance Henriksen as the vampire leader, answering a query about his age with, "Put it this way—I fought for the South."