30 VHS IN 30 DAYS: DAY 28 After Dark, My Sweet

There’s something inside of every man that keeps him going long after he has any reason to. For years I kept going when going didn’t seem to make any sense. And now I just had to keep going. I had to have the end come.” - Kevin ‘Kid’ Collins

I remember one time swimming with my family, in the Caribbean Sea, somewhere of the coast of the Yucatan. The water condition were a little choppier than usual, and I have never been a great swimmer, but the water was so blue, clearer than any ocean I had ever swam in. So, I swam and I swam, further and further into the vast ocean. Until I felt a tug on my board shorts, like a small child grabbing the dress of their mother. It was soft at first, then it wasn’t. I was caught in a rip tide, as I vigorously threw my arms in the ocean, desperately trying to break free, panic slowly set in. I felt my body start to wane, everything became silent, I looked around and all I could see was ocean, miles of clear blue ocean. I began to scream for help, but with each scream water would fill my mouth. It was the closest I ever felt to dying.

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In the distance I saw my father swimming to me, against the waves, as fast as he could. In that moment I felt my foot touch the bottom of the sand. I stuck my toes into the sand to brace myself, the very top of my head the only part of my body not fully submerged. I dug my feet in the white sand and waited for the tide to push towards the shore. Foot, dig, wave, breath, repeat. Inch after inch, until the tug’s force lessened just enough for my rescue.

My father finally made it to me, he kept my head above of the water, and dragged my fatigued body back to shore.

I always think about that feeling in the water, when everything went quiet, when I was alone in this vast ocean, fighting against a force that wouldn’t allow me to escape it grasp. Like quick sand every attempt to to make progress only reaffirmed my fear. The feeling that there was no escape, succumbing was my only option

I think this is what depressed people must feel like, their emotional pain is a vast ocean, seemingly endless. Their life a riptide waiting for them to succumb to their emotional fatigue. They long for someone, or something to pull them out from the grip, and drag their tired mind and body back to shore. Some are able to find their buoy, some don’t, and some drag their lifeguard down with them.

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The three charters in After Dark, My Sweet, are trying to escape their tides, but instead of being each other’s savior, they are filling each other’s pockets with rocks.

After Dark, My Sweet is a neo-noir film adapted from the Jim Thompson novel of the same name. It was one of three of his novel to be adapted into a film in 1990. It is a beautiful, erotic, and ultimately sad neo-noir about how exhausting it is to fight against life’s riptide.

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Plot

Kevin “Kid” Collins (Jason Patric) is a drifter and an escapee from a mental hospital. From the outside he doesn’t seem crazy at all, he is a gorgeous man, with a chiseled face, and deep blue eyes yet, something is off about him. You see, Collins was actually a boxer, who after one to many fights was left punch drunk, his mental state leaves him prone to violent outburst.

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In a bar, in some small desert town, he meets Fay Anderson (Rachel ward), a beautiful, sun-weathered, alcoholic. She takes an interest in Collins, or Collie, as she like to call him. Fay invites Collins back to her home, offering him room and board if he agrees to help her repair the run down estate her ex-husband left her.

While at May’s home, one of her “friends” stops by. In enters Uncle Bud (Bruce Dern), a slimy, fast talking man, who says he is an ex-cop. He informs the two of his long gestating scheme to kidnap a rich man’s child for ransom. Bud believes a person with Collins’s facilities is the perfect man for the job.

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Collins doesn’t bite. He leaves and encounters Doc Goldman (George Dickerson), who takes an immediate interest in Collins, partly because he knows that Collins has a mental problems, and partly because he is physically attracted to him.

Unable to shake the feeling that Uncle Bud will get Fay in trouble, Collins return and agrees to help with the kidnapping. However, things being to spiral out of control when Doc gets involved with the trio, and Collins kidnaps the wrong child.

In typical noir fashion, there are many twist and turns, will any one escape, or will they all drown together.

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Favorite Scene

I love the way the camera follows Collins as he walks towards Fay. Even though Fay is sitting she has all the power in this scene, Collie even follows her, sitting down like a dog. You see Collie is a loyal stupid dog, who will do anything for its owner. Also, the budding sexual tension between the two is palpable. (I’m also going on record as saying the most attractive thing a woman can wear, in any film, is blue jean shorts E.X Pepper Pots)


Rating

After Dark, My Sweet is a beautiful and sad film about the toil of emotional fatigue, All the three characters want is an escape from their emotional hells, something they believe can be accomplished by using each other. They are all drowning, but instead of keeping each other afloat they are just tying weights to each others feet. Featuring a trio of great performances, gorgeous cinematography, and assured direction After Dark, My Sweet really deserves a bigger audience.

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In a sentence

After Dark, My Sweet is an erotic, yet somber film about a trio of damaged individuals unable to escape the inertia of their lives.

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Rotten tomatoes: 82%
IMDB: 6.6/10
My Rating: 4.0 Drinks Out Of 5

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“You can escape purgatory, but you can’t escape Hell.” - Priest in My Left Foot

This has been day 28 of 30 VHS In 30 DAYS. My journey to the center of VHS Hell. Special thanks to I Luv Video in Austin, The World’s Largest Video Store, for being my spiritual and literal guide through VHS purgatory.

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