August is an odd time be writing about vampires. With the intense heat and humidity of the brutal South Carolina summer beating down upon us, it doesn’t feel like vampire weather. But the crisp autumnal nights of October are closer than we realize, even if they seem impossible right now.
That said, the Southern vampire is a particular niche of Southern gothic horror. All the mystery and romance of “moonlight and magnolias” is enhanced with these mysterious, romantic creatures stalking about crumbling old plantation houses in the night. I’ve been reading Anne Rice’s novel Interview with the Vampire (the film version of which I reviewed last fall), and the titular vampire and narrator, Louis, is from Louisiana. The exotic setting of New Orleans plays a prominent role in the first half of the book, and provides the perfect backdrop for Louis, Lestat, and Claudia’s lethal nocturnal escapades.
This week’s film, 1987’s Near Dark, isn’t exactly about Southern vampires, but Midwestern vampires. That doesn’t exactly fit into the mold of the seductive, mysterious vampire, but that’s one of the film’s strengths: these vampires are crazy Nebraskan (or Oklahoman?) low-lives, terrorizing the prairie in a aluminum-foil-covered panel van.