BSX Digitalmusic.com presents the soundtrack for NEAR DARK, featuring music composed and performed by Tangerine Dream for the 1987 cult horror film directed by Kathryn Bigelow (POINT BREAK, THE HURT LOCKER, ZERO DARK THIRTY), written by Eric Red (THE HITCHER) and starring Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, Jenny Wright, Adrian Pasdar, Joshua Miller and Tim Thomerson.
NEAR DARK tells the story of small town boy Caleb (Pasdar) who meets Mae (Wright) on the street outside an ice cream parlor one night. Immediately smitten, Caleb is happy to oblige her request for a ride home for the price of a kiss. Instead of a kiss, Caleb receives a bite as he finds out the hard way that Mae is a vampire. Unable to start his truck, he starts to walk back home but as the sun begins to rise, he gets sicker and sicker. Just as he is about to arrive home, an RV appears behind him and he is pulled inside. His father, Loy (Thomerson), sees what has happened and immediately assumes that his son has been kidnapped. The truth is far more terrifying.
Inside the RV, Caleb awakens to find Mae and her surrogate family of vampires. Jesse Hooker (Henriksen) is the leader of the clan, along with his mate, Diamondback (Goldstein), Severin (Paxton) and the youngest, Homer (Miller). Instead of taking Caleb’s life, Mae has turned him into a vampire, which puts the entire family in danger of being discovered. Jesse gives Caleb a choice: If he can carry his own weight and, more importantly, kill on his own, he will be allowed to live. Mae tries to teach Caleb to kill for blood but he continues to resist and Mae is forced to kill for them both, allowing Caleb to feed off of her. As time passes, Caleb and his new family get farther and farther away from his old life, travelling from one small town to the next, in an ever-escalating pattern of violence. Unknown to Caleb, Loy and his sister are following the trail of bodies which will inevitably lead to a confrontation where Caleb will be forced to make a choice or Jesse will make it for him.
NEAR DARK was the first solo directorial feature for director Kathyrn Bigelow. Co-written with Bigelow’s friend, Eric Red, NEAR DARK mixed elements of the vampire movie with that of the Western and biker genres. The film also had the benefit of being extremely well cast. Henriksen, Paxton, and Goldstein had all just been in James Cameron’s ALIENS the previous year and brought that chemistry with them into NEAR DARK. Surprisingly released the same weekend as THE LOST BOYS, which easily eclipsed NEAR DARK at the box office, Bigelow’s NEAR DARK has gone on to achieve the higher critical recognition. Both films tried to redefine the vampire legend by shedding the Gothic trappings that characterized vampire movies for decades and succeeded in different ways.
The producers of the film had succeeded in making a unique vampire film and were intent on hiring someone to produce music for the film that also would not sound like a typical vampire film. They turned to the German electronic band Tangerine Dream. At the time of NEAR DARK, Tangerine Dream’s line up consisted of Edgar Froese, Christopher Franke, and Paul Haslinger, who collaborated equally on composing and performing all of their music. Coming out of ambient electronic rock, Tangerine Dream’s music is characterized by progressive atmospheres, although in later film projects such as LEGEND, they would begin to experiment more with melodic structures. Their music for NEAR DARK is primarily based on ambiance and tempo, with an emphasis on minimalistic riffing and slowly developed rhythm pads which are built up with progressive layers of electronic and acoustic instrumentation.
Previously released on compact disc in 1987 and out of print for many years, BUYSOUNDTRAX Records brings NEAR DARK back with remastered sound by Digital Outland. The digital booklet includes new liner notes by author Randall Larson on the production of the film and the creation of the score.