1987 cult classic vampire movie Near Dark features multiple cast members from the sci-fi/horror hit Aliens, and that wasn’t by accident. As far as ensemble casts go in the realms of horror or sci-fi, the actors and actresses that make up Aliens‘ roster have got to be one of the best of all time. For Aliens‘ story to resonate, it was vital that the cast came across as real friends who cared about each other, enough to sacrifice their lives to save a comrade if needed.
Without the interplay between Aliens‘ various space marines, the sequel wouldn’t have been nearly as effective, and the film might not today stand as one of the rare sequels that some believe bests the original. Part of that casting success was the direct result of James Cameron being hired as writer and director, as he’d previously worked with Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Michael Biehn on 1984’s The Terminator, and all were eager to reunite with him.
Aliens hit theaters in July 1986, while Near Dark arrived just a bit over a year later, in October 1987. Near Dark shares three major cast members with Aliens, and there’s a very specific reason why their reunion happened as fast as it did.
When Near Dark director and co-writer Kathryn Bigelow was looking to cast the film, she wanted to find actors who felt like a family onscreen, and showed clear affection for and care about each other. After all, the main vampires Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen), Diamondback (Jeanette Goldstein), and Severen (Bill Paxton), had lived together for an untold number of decades by the time the film itself begins. That’s where James Cameron came in. Bigelow and Cameron had become friends, and would later marry for several years. Cameron suggested Bigelow make use of his Aliens cast, as they had all just spent months in close quarters shooting the film, and formed natural bonds.
Cameron was certainly right on the money with his suggestion, as Jesse, Diamondback, and Severen definitely feel like a family. They laugh, they fight, they go through good times and bad, but they never abandon each other. Interestingly, Michael Biehn was also offered a role in Near Dark, but he passed. It’s unclear who he would’ve played, outside of protagonist Caleb Colton, a part which went to Adrian Pasdar. Then again, it’s possible a role could’ve been created if he decided to come aboard. While Near Dark is today regarded as a cult classic, it’s a shame it still doesn’t tend to get the same notice from horror fans as its 1987 vampire competitor The Lost Boys.
This content was originally published here.