Cinema of Neglect: The 1970s. Fontbonne University presents a series dedicated to highlighting underappreciated films of the '70s. This week features Monte Hellman's Cockfighter (1974). It's hard to imagine that any film that can claim performers of the caliber of Warren Oates, Harry Dean Stanton, Millie Perkins, Treat Williams and Ed Begley Jr. -- as well as cinematography by Nestor Almendros -- would remain virtually unknown, but Monte Hellman's Cockfighter, adapted by the great pulp novelist Charles Willeford from his own novel (he also appears in the film as a fight judge) sadly fell between the cracks and has stayed there ever since. Too mired in white-trash ambience to slip into art houses, yet too lyrical to attract the drive-in crowds (though producer Roger Corman tried, changing the title to Born to Kill and preparing trailers that added sex, violence and explosions), Willeford's story of a traveling bird trainer with a self-imposed vow of silence is a picaresque journey down unexplored American roads, sacrificing some of the novel's dime-novel existential romanticism for a comically realistic look at the lowest reaches of the gambling circuit. The film is uneven at times -- both in content as well as execution -- but Oates and Stanton, both of whom are extraordinary here, go a long way toward smoothing the roughest edges. Plays at 7:30 p.m. October 8 at the Fontbonne University Library. (RH)
Reel Late Midnight Movie Series. The Tivoli Theatre presents a series of classic and destined to be classic films. This week features Yoshiaki Kawajiri's Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. This is no more a sequel to the 1985 horror/fantasy anime than James Bond movies are sequels to one another, but this adaptation of the third book in Japanese sci-fi author Hideyuki Kikuchi's series of 22 novels doesn't require any previous knowledge of the character to take your breath away. D is simply the name the main character goes by; it's implied that it stands for either "Dunpeal," meaning human/vampire hybrid, or Dracula, from whom it is hinted he was descended. Imagine Wesley Snipes' Blade character dressed as a musketeer and portrayed by a young Clint Eastwood. One other thing: He has a talking hand (which won't shut up, to the film's detriment) that can suck up spells and poison vapors. Because he accepts that vampires are evil, yet is shunned by most humans for being different, D makes a living as a professional vampire hunter, a racket that's rapidly becoming competitive. He has been recruited to rescue the daughter of a wealthy human aristocrat who has been abducted (or so it seems) by a vampire named Meier Link. D's secondary orders are to kill the girl and bring her back dead if she has been turned into a vampire by the time he gets to her. Despite some moments of awkward, jarring humor, Bloodlust is a visual feast and weaves a rich fantasy world that makes one long for an English translation of the original books. Also playing is Blue Velvet. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust plays at midnight October 4, noon and midnight October 5 and noon October 6. Blue Velvet plays at midnight October 4-5. (JO)
Webster University Homecoming. Webster University honors its alumni filmmakers with a festival of their work. The Webster University Homecoming features the following film shorts: "Curveball, Pile of Junk," a music video directed by Jason Christ; "The Donut King," a film directed by Angie Ottinger; "I Am a Woman," a documentary directed by Sarah Bruno; "Magic Picture Box," a documentary directed by David Good; "The Magic Fruits," a film directed by Inga Palquist; "Nailbed," a documentary directed by Aaron AuBuchon; "Researching Raymond Burke," a film directed by Brian Jun; "Silent Night," a film directed by Kathy Corley and co-written by Joan Lipkin and Kathy Corley; "Brothers," a music video directed by Ken Calcaterra; "Animation," directed by Aaron Pfau. Plays at 8 p.m. October 4-5 at Webster University. NR
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