Of course, most respected anthropologists and biologists recognize that the New World Vampire, or *vampirus americanus*, differs greatly from the European species, or *vampirus continentalus*, but few films have recognized that the wide-open spaces of the U.S. produce a vastly altered creature than Europe’s dense urban spaces or intimate, if remote, medieval villages. But years before John Carpenter and the team of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez documented the vampires that dwell in the lonely stretches of the Americas, the criminally underappreciated ethnographer Kathryn Bigelow did it — spookily, grimly, hilariously, gloriously — with 1987’s *Near Dark,* in which a coven of nasty bloodsuckers roam the deserted American Southwest.
I told myself I wasn’t gonna cry…
Did I say what a tremendous impact this film had on me? I remember the first time I saw it, during its initial release, at a sold-out late-night showing, not a child in sight, and I was not the only adult sniffling back tears of joy, thunderstruck by the sheer wonderfulness of this movie. And that feeling came rushing back, times ten, when I saw the film again in IMAX.
There are some serious gaps in my film education, I’m sorry to admit, but one of those gaps was recently filled when I saw *Apocalypse Now* for the first time.
Oh, the great mysteries of life. Why are we here? How will the universe end? And how does Clark Kent fit that flowing red cape under a business suit? Alas, none of these questions are answered on the new DVD releases of the Superman series, but jeepers, they’re swell.
And they don’t come much geekier or more touchstony than 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail, not only damn near one of the funniest movies ever made but certainly one of the most quotable… at least for us endlessly self-referential types for whom all of life is but a never ceasing trail of opportunities to show off the ridiculous capability we have for retaining movie, computer, and science fiction trivia.
What is *The Third Man* is no great mystery: it’s one of the greatest expressions of the noir attitude ever committed to film.
In the wee hours of July 16, 1938, an insurance salesman Walter Neff sits down at a dictation machine in the offices of Pacific All-Risk in Los Angeles to record a confession. That guy Dietrichson, who died mysteriously? Neff killed him.
Annie Wilkes is King’s best psycho and one of the most banally malevolent visions of evil ever depicted onscreen — as played by the extraordinary Kathy Bates, she is a terror of frighteningly everyday proportions. A lonely, abandoned woman living in the Colorado mountains, her greatest solace comes from the romance novels of author Paul Sheldon (James Caan), all of which feature an heroine with the unlikely name of Misery.
Was *Taxi Driver* more disturbing, or less disturbing, before its unpleasant truths shifted into the real world?