Sunday, October 2, 2016

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 568th Edition

Welcome to the 568th Edition of my series.  Today, our annual contest of the Madness kicks off.  I have never actually won one of these contests but I always enjoy being part of this community.  It is a contest that includes watching Halloween oriented movies and tv shows.  Through, the years, I have come to be known as "The King of the Loophole" as each year there are various names in which I can use any of their work so I usually take full advantage of what I can in order to keep up my variety themes that I always use.  You'll see what I am talking about in the coming weeks and will see a mixture of Halloween oriented and non-Halloween oriented films.  I got my first win of the NFL season in my fantasy league and I won a very small cash prize from Draft Kings and while it was not much, it gives me confidence I can continue to improve.  I will get on with my selections for the week.

Sleepy Hollow (1999):  This is part one of a two part Christopher Lee series.  I start the week out with this adaptation of the Washington Irving novel. I will say first that I really don't know anything about this novel and just focused on the movie. Johnny Depp stars as Ichabod Crane who is a detective in the late 1700s who is assigned to investigate murders in a town of the title. Ichabod has some new age beliefs in detective work that are quite ahead of its time. He soon learns that the murders consist of the victims being decapitated and is told by the locals that it is the work of the Headless Horseman. He is at first skeptical but then witnesses it happening and becomes a believer and is determined to stop the murders. Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Christopher Walken, Christopher Lee, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, Ian McDiarmid, Michael Gough, Lisa Marie, Peter Guinness, Martin Landau, and many others co-star in this atmospheric film. I have found that the 90s are my favorite period for the many Burton/Depp collaborations and this was no different.  This for the record is their third collaboration.  The cinematography worked very well and the action scenes were very good. It also has great use of flashback sequences. I won't give too much away accept that it moves very well and keeps people guessing but is not for everyone's taste if you have a hard time with violence.

Legend (1985):  I follow with this classic 80s fantasy which was mostly what last year's Madness centered around but I decided to wait until this year to watch it.  Ridley Scott directed this film which stars our favorite Scientologist Tom Cruise as Jack who looks to stop the Lord of Darkness, played by Tim Curry, who is essentially the Devil and is looking to have eternal night by killing the last of the unicorns.  He must also save the woman he loves Princess Lili, played by Mia Sara, who inadvertently sets off the events that cause a unicorn to get a poison dart.  David Bennett and Billy Barty co-star in this film.  I really enjoyed this entry into the fantasy genre.  I thought it had a good love story within the film.  Curry plays a great villain and is quite unrecognizable.  I also really like the music score from Tangerine Dream.  The characters are also very enjoyable.  I also liked the special effects from this film that beat many other more modern effects in fantasy like in the LORD OF THE RINGS films.

Crimson Peak (2015):  This is part one of a two-part Jessica Chastain series.  Guillermo Del Toro directed and co-wrote this Victorian era horror film.  Mia Wasikowska stars as Edith Cushing whose mother died when she was young.  She become enamored with Thomas Sharpe who is a mysterious stranger is town and forms a relationship with him eventually marrying him.  She moves into their old mansion along with Thomas's sister Lucille, played by Jessica Chastain.  When moving in, she begins to find that the house is haunted making her investigate what happened and what secrets her husband and sister in law could be holding.  Charlie Hunman, Jim Beaver, Burn Gorman, Leslie Hope, Doug Jones, Jonathan Hyde, Bruce Gray, Emily Coutts, and many others co-star in this film.  This does have some gore but focuses more on the mystery and suspense.  It has some really good visuals with a good performance out of Wasikowska.  I found that this is more of a dark love story where ghosts are kind of secondary.

The Alphabet (1968):  This is my short film for the week and some very early work for David Lynch.  His then wife Peggy Lynch stars as a girl in a very surrealistic dream where the alphabet comes to life and in a very bizarre way even for an alphabet coming to life.  Lynch had some pretty strange short films in his career, mostly animated with some very abstract art.  It's hard to really explain any more on this than what I already have and believe Lynch really wants more of your own analysis.  This can be found on Youtube and is also part of The Short Films of David Lynch collection.  It is a start to a great career and a much different filmmaker than most.

The Devil-Doll (1936):  Tod Browning directed this early horror film.  Lionel Barrymore stars as escaped convict Paul Lavond who along with this friend Marcel, played by Henry B. Walthall, escape from Devil's Island prison.  Paul discovers Marcel's experiments of working on a way to reduce humans to a very small size.  It turns out, he was successful along with this wife Malita, played by Rafaela Ottiano, in their experiements which were supposed to be for the good of mankind.  Marcel dies but Paul decides to use the experiment in order to get his revenge on those that wronged him.  Maureen O'Sullivan co-stars as Paul's estranged daughter.  This was a rather clever camp film and seeing Lionel Barrymore in disguise as an old lady to get his revenge was quite worth it.

The Delicate Delinquent (1957):  This is part one of a five part Jerry Lewis series.  Don McGuire wrote and directed this comedy which stars Jerry Lewis which is his first solo movie without his comedy partner Dean Martin.  Lewis plays his usual character and this time plays bumbling janitor Sidney Pythias who is in the wrong place in the wrong time when he gets mistaken for a member of a gang when they get picked up by cop Mike Damon, played by Darren McGavin who is probably most known as the old man in A CHRISTMAS STORY.  Damon looks to get to know Sidney and learns that Sidney has a secret ambition to be part of the police force so he helps him get through the police academy with some pretty funny results.  Martha Hyer co-stars in this comedy.  Not the best Lewis film but still a good start to his post Dean Martin projects.

Hellraiser (1987):  Clive Barker made his directorial debut which is a screenplay based on his own novel.  Clare Higgins stars as Julia who has been an unfaithful wife and soon encounters her dead lover Frank, played by Sean Chapman, who is in a zombie form and escaped a sadomasochistic underworld lead by the iconic Pinhead, played by Doug Bradley.  Frank can also get his body back through human sacrifices so Julia reluctantly agrees to help him by murdering other men while trying to keep him away from the Cenobites.  Andrew Robinson, Ashley Laurence, Nicholas Vince, Simon Bamford, Grace Kirby, and many others co-star in this film.  This is actually the first time I have ever delved into this franchise.  I guess I cannot judge whether Barker did a good job of adapting his novel but it was all up to him what was done.  It is a pretty clever story that produced a horror icon in Pinhead who is pretty known even if one has not seen one from this franchise.  This is available on Instant Netflix.

The Big Doll House (1971):   This is part one of a four-part Sid Haig series.  This is my exploitation film and prison film for the week.  Roger Corman produced this women's prison movie which Jack Hill directs.  The prison is run by a very sadistic female warden.  Five of the women plot an escape which includes Pam Grier in her first big film role.  Sid Haig also co-stars as one of the fruit vendors looking to score when delivering to the prison.  Before watching this you must remember that Roger Corman produced, women in prison, and Pam Grier which is all I really need to say.

The Gunfighter (1950):  This is my western for the week which was directed by Henry King.  Gregory Peck stars as legendary gunslinger Jimmy Ringo who is trying to put his past behind him but cannot go anywhere without being recognized and having a young up and coming gunslinger trying to make a name off of him.  He goes back to his old town hoping to see his estranged lover Peggy, played by Helen Westcott, and his son who he has not gotten to see.  He finds trouble right away as he is looking to avoid the brothers of a man he killed in the previous town and deals with the young Hunt Bromley, played by Skip Homeier, who is a cocky youngster wanting to pick a fight with Jimmy.  He must also deal with a bit of a media circus when everyone hears he is in town.  Karl Malden, Richard Jaeckel, Millard Mitchell, Jean Parker, Verna Felton, Ellen Corby, and many others co-star in this western.  Westerns are not usually a genre I'm extremely into but if I had to come up with a top ten for the genre this would be in there.  This is more of a psychological western in which killing is more the concern.  The media circus from this era was also very well shot and had some good discussions on who the fastest gunslinger was including Wyatt Earp.  This is loosely based on notorious gunslinger Johnny Ringo.

Castle in the Sky (1986):  This is part one of a three part Mark Hamill series.  I end the week with some anime.  While I have never really been a die hard Anime person, I do tend to enjoy the Studio Ghibli films and this was no exception.  A young boy named Pazu encounters a girl literally falling from the sky named Sheeta.  He takes interest in her and learns that she is on the run from pirates, the army and the government.  Together, Pazu looks to help Sheeta learn who she is in life and encounter all kinds of things like a floating castle.  This was directed by Hayao Miyazaki.  It is a very beautiful story with a lot of really fun characters.  James Van Der Beek, Anna Paquin, Cloris Leachman, Mark Hamill, Richard Dysart, Jim Cummings, Mandy Patinkin, Andy Dick, and many others lend their voices to this version of the film.

Well, that is it for this week.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Jessica Chastain, Mark Hamill, Angelina Jolie, Christopher Lee, Sid Haig, Tim Curry, Jerry Lewis, Dakota Fanning, and many others.

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