Honorable mentions:

The Strain

Near Dark


Swamp Thing Issue

Swamp Thing: ‘Still Waters’

Swamp Thing issue #38, during Alan Moore’s original run came out in 1985, and features a town called Rosewood. The Swamp Thing finds a way to cast its consciousness out in order to re-grow itself in Rosewood, by “[laying] down in a sheltered place and let his intelligence deep out into the undergrowth.”

“The vampires have found an existence below the surface of things in Rosewood, or its flooded remains to be specific. Both Swamp Thing and the vampires are reliant on a hidden existence below the surface level of the planet.”

-Andrew Edwards, ‘Sequart Organization’

The vampires are aquatic, and the flooded town is theirs now, suitable for them alone, anyways, as the un-breathing un-dead. Swamp Thing thinks of Abby as he slips from Louisiana to Rosewood, traveling along ‘the green.’

“We also learn a little more about the mysterious John Constantine in this issue. He is brave and capable of intimidation, as seem when he breaks a glass in his clenched fist. He is also not afraid of Swamp Thing: when the latter grabs him in order to force Constantine to reveal more information, Constantine remains cool and continues to use the situation to his advantage with the promise of information once the Rosewood situation has been dealt with.”

“Indeed, Constantine is obviously adept at sourcing information, as is shown when he explains how some of the vampires survived the flooding of Rosewood: they remained safe in airtight freezer units in a supermarket. Moore establishes that vampires do not need to breathe within the DC Universe, and this combines with Rosewood’s submersion to create a new opportunity for vampires – the means to create an organised settlement without attracting outside attention. They are also able to breed, itself a concept of horrific implications. Charlene, a bloated, monstrous vampire, lays eggs towards the end of the story, and these begin to hatch as the issue draws to a close.”

“[1] The importance of water in this issue is also present in the legend of the Pied Piper: he entices the rats to follow him, and they are drowned in a lake.”

“[2] These were survivors of the flood from Saga of the Swamp Thing #3, by Marty Pasko and Tom Yeates, (July 1982).”

Near Dark

Near Dark

The movie ‘Near Dark’ came out in 1987 and the plot follows a young man in a small Oklahoma town who becomes involved with a family of nomadic American vampires. Over the years it accrued a cult following, but it performed poorly at the box office.

One night, Caleb Colton, a young man in a small town, meets an attractive young drifter named Mae. Just before sunrise, she bites him on the neck and runs off. The rising sun causes Caleb’s flesh to smoke and burn. Mae arrives with a group of roaming vampires in an RV and takes him away. The most psychotic of the vampires, Severen, wants to kill Caleb but Mae reveals that she has already turned him. Their charismatic leader, Jesse Hooker, reluctantly agrees to allow Caleb to remain with them for a week to see if he can learn to hunt and gain the group’s trust. Caleb is unwilling to kill to feed, which alienates him from the others. To protect him, Mae kills for him and then has him drink from her wrist.

Jesse’s group enters a bar and kills the occupants. They set the bar on fire and flee the scene.

All except Mae want to kill Caleb after he endangers them by letting the only living occupant escape, but after Caleb endangers himself to help them escape their motel room during a daylight police raid, Jesse and the others are grateful and temporarily mollified. A camaraderie commences, with Caleb asking Jesse how old he is and Jesse responding that he “fought for the South” (during the American Civil War, 1861-1865), making him about 150 years old (Severen had earlier suggested he and Jesse started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871).

Near Dark features three actors from ‘Alien,’ two of whom (Paxton and Henriksen) had also previously been in ‘The Terminator’… However, there is also a much more obscure casting connection between Near Dark and the Terminator movies: Robert Winley, who played a biker in the bar scene in Near Dark, and who had never been in any James Cameron movies at that time, later played the biker whose clothes, boots, and motorcycle are stolen by the T-800 in a very similar bar scene at the beginning of Terminator 2. His characters are identified in the credits as “Patron in bar” for the former movie and “Cigar Biker” for the latter.

Meanwhile, Caleb’s father has been searching for Jesse’s group. A child vampire in the group, Homer, meets Caleb’s sister, Sarah, and wants to turn her into his companion, but Caleb objects. While the group argues, Caleb’s father arrives and holds them at gunpoint, demanding that Sarah be released. Jesse taunts him into shooting him, then regurgitates the bullet before wrestling the gun away. In the confusion, Sarah opens a door, letting in the sunlight and forcing the vampires back. Burning, Caleb escapes with his family.

Caleb suggests they try giving him a blood transfusion. The transfusion unexpectedly reverses Caleb’s transformation. That night, the vampires search for Caleb and Sarah. Mae distracts Caleb by trying to persuade him to return to her while the others kidnap his sister. Caleb discovers the kidnapping and his tires slashed but gives chase on horseback. When the horse shies and throws him, he is confronted by Severen. Caleb commandeers a tractor-trailer and runs Severen over. The injured vampire suddenly appears on the hood of the truck and manages to rip apart the wiring in the engine. Caleb jackknifes the vehicle and jumps out as the truck explodes, killing Severen. Seeking revenge, Jesse and his girlfriend, Diamondback, pursue him but are forced to escape in their car as dawn breaks.

Vampire films had become “trendy” by the time of Near Dark’s production, with the success of ‘Fright Night’ (1985) and The Lost Boys (1987), the latter released two months before Near Dark and grossing $32 million.

Kathryn Bigelow wanted to film a Western movie that departed from cinematic convention. When she and co-writer Eric Red found financial backing for a Western difficult to obtain, it was suggested to them that they try mixing a Western with another, more popular genre. Her interest in revisionist interpretation of cinematic tradition led her and Red to combine two genres that they regarded as ripe for reinterpretation: the Western movie and the vampire movie. The combination of the genres had been visited at least twice before on the big screen, with ‘Curse of the Undead’ (1959), and ‘Billy the Kid Versus Dracula’ (1966).

The consensus reads: “Near Dark is at once a creepy vampire film, a thrilling western, and a poignant family tale, with humor and scares in abundance.”

Attempting to save Sarah, Mae breaks out of the back of the car with her. Mae’s flesh begins to smoke as she is burned by the sun but she carries Sarah into Caleb’s arms, taking refuge under his jacket. Homer attempts to follow, but as he runs he dies from exposure to the sun. Their sunproofing ruined, Jesse and Diamondback also begin to burn. They attempt to run Caleb and Sarah over but fail, dying as the car blows up. Mae awakens later, her burns now healed. She too has been given a transfusion and is cured. She and Caleb comfort each other in a reassuring hug as the film ends.

Canceled Remake

A remake of the film was announced in October 2006 as a co-production between film companies Rogue Pictures and Platinum Dunes… In 2008 Platinum Dunes stated that the project had been put on hold due to similarities in conception with ‘Twilight’ (2008), a film which had a budget of just under 40 million dollars, and ended up bringing in hundreds of millions with spin-offs and source material book sales.

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