Posted by Richard Harland Smith on February 14, 2014
The other day a friend posted on his Facebook page a very unflattering picture of sports broadcaster and Olympic Winter Games commentator Bob Costas, who was/is suffering from an inconvenient case of pink eye, and then added some kindred spirits from the genres of horror and science fiction: Ronny Cox (or his prosthetic simulacrum) buggin’ out to the point of bursting from TOTAL RECALL (1990), gore-orbed Ray Milland at the end of X: THE MAN WITH X-RAY EYES (1963), and Ronald Lacey in full ooey-gooey rich-and-chewy meltdown at the end of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981). To which I added the above. Hardly remarkable in this day and age of Internet japery and it’s not that I posted it which strikes me now in retrospect as being so… it’s just that I thought of this image so quickly. I think, instantly. The opportunity arose and I had this image in my head, all loaded up, like that spring-action gun Travis Bickle has up his sleeve in TAXI DRIVER (1976), available to me in the way histamines and collagen are at my physiological disposal in the event of injury. These kinds of associations tell you a lot about yourself.
I’m not the most meta guy in the room but I do think, on occasion, about the things I think about — specifically of the (for want of a better analogy) hard drive of stored movie images I keep in my head, the ones that come back to me when I close my eyes at night to take my rest, the ones that spring instantly to mind when the occasion for a classic Facebook post arises, the ones that blot out more useful visual information, such as the last place I saw my house keys or the street address of the place I needed to be at twenty minutes ago. Like THE CRAWLING EYE (1958) for instance. Always there. Just always there. Whether I need to use it or not, always there.
It isn’t a question of Favorite Films or 5 Movies I’d Take to a Desert Island. It isn’t a question of taste or choice, at least not on the conscious level. If you live long enough, and you see a variety of films over that time, some kind settling takes place on the atomic plane, and you wind up stuck with certain movies. They are pinned to you, they belong to you, or you to them. And the images from them — not necessarily the classic images, the stock shots (Bogie and Ingrid at Dooley Wilson’s piano in CASABLANCA, Martin Sheen rising up out of the swamp water in APOCALYPSE NOW, the angle on Anne Bancroft’s leg in THE GRADUATE) but the ones that, however minor or peripheral to the plot, recur. Endure. Haunt. Pester. Hag.
I have to say I’m pretty happy with the movies I’ve been saddled with. What if these cinematic burs had been Chuck Norris or Tyler Perry movies? Brrr… I don’t even want to think about it. No, I’m happy with my cheapjack horror movies and stodgy 50s sci-fi programmers and Eastmancolor British vampire flicks and weirdo European imports and crackly old dark house thrillers and Warners gangster pictures and film noirs. But there’s top drawer stuff in there, too. There’s CITIZEN KANE (1941), too…
… shuffled in with SHOCK WAVES (1977) and SCARS OF DRACULA (1970) and IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958) …
… and BLOODY FRIDAY (1972) and CUT-THROATS NINE (1972) and CAVE OF THE LIVING DEAD (1964)…
… and THE OMEGA MAN (1971). THE OMEGA MAN is always with me. Always. It walks with me and it talks with me and it tells me I am its own. No, seriously, though… If I were Jesus and these movies were my apostles, THE OMEGA MAN would be my Peter, the primus inter pares. Of course, now I’ve got myself wondering, if THE OMEGA MAN is my Peter, what movie is my Judas Iscariot? Well… I’ll figure that out on my own time. No need to drag you into this. It’s not all about me, after all.
But I’m pretty sure it’s DRACULA’S DAUGHTER (1936).
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