Before winning an Oscar for Best Director — the first woman to do so — Kathryn Bigelow undertook an ambitious attempt to redefine the vampire genre. It entailed a clan of feral wanderers (played by most of the supporting cast of Aliens, including the late great Bill Paxton) traveling across America’s forgotten highways in search of blood and pulling a hapless country boy (Adrian Pasdar) into their embrace in the process. It was audacious, bold and wildly original, and while it didn’t catch fire at the box office (The Lost Boys seemed to have a lock on the public’s imagination at the time), it has since attained cult status among horror aficionados everywhere. I’ll go further and call it the greatest vampire movie ever made. It was Near Dark and it opened today in 1987.
Further down the scale, we find a minor-but-notable effort from Don Siegal: Coogan’s Bluff, starring Clint Eastwood as an Arizona sheriff sent to New York to extradite a suspect for murder. The fish-out-of-water vibe is middling at best, though Eastwood makes an appealing hero as normal. It opened today in 1968.