Sunday, October 7, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 673rd Edition and the Madness: Holidaze Week 1

Welcome to the 673rd Edition of my series.  We got through our first week of the Madness which is really my favorite time of the month besides football and even that I have barely kept up with my show going on.  At the end of this, I have a photo showing where and when DRACULA is to be performed where I play the role of Renfield.  I will get on with my selections for the week.

The Disaster Artist (2017):  James Franco directed and stars in this film as Tommy Wiseau and based on novel by Greg Sestero, played by Dave Franco, and Tom Bissell.  This is a true story where Wiseau and Sestero are struggling aspiring actors who meet and end up moving to Los Angeles.  They struggle to get work and Wiseau has the vision to write and produce his own movie which is to star himself and Sistero.  This movie would go onto be THE ROOM and this shows the struggles to get this made while the actors were very confused about it.  Seth Rogen, Ari Graynor, Allison Brie, Jacki Weaver, Paul Scheer, Zac Efron, Josh Hutcherson, June Diane Raphael, Megan Mullally, Jason Manzoukas, Andrew Santino, Nathan Fiedler, Joe Mande, Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith, Bob Odenkirk, Randall Park, and many others co-star in this movie and a few celebrities make cameos.  Franco plays the part of Wiseau to perfection with his mannerisms and the speech impediment.  It would be hard to get into this movie until you see the 2003 movie THE ROOM which Wiseau directed that would go onto be a cult classic and still talked and joked about today.  THE ROOM is now available to watch in its entirety on YOUTUBE.  On this movie, watch through the credits for an end credit scene.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997):  Jim Gillespie directed this horror film that was based on the novel by Lois Duncan.  Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Ryan Phillippe star as a group of friends who take part in a bad accident where they accidentally hit a man and cover up the accident to avoid trouble.  The next summer, the dead man returns looking for payback.  Muse Watson, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Anne Heche, Johnny Galecki, and many others co-star in this film.  This came out around the time when teen horror got on the rise which also included SCREAM.  It probably helped that at the time Hewitt and Gellar were on the rise with Hewitt being in PARTY OF FIVE and Gellar starring as my childhood favorite show BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.  I don't think I would call this scary but is still entertaining with a sense of mystery.  There is now a musical version of the show called I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER:  THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL which features my Facebook friend Alli Miller who will play the characters of Elsa Shivers and Sunny Egan to be performed at the El Cid in Los Angeles.  The performance schedule is Thursdays and Fridays:  October 11th and 12th at 8 pm, October 18th and 19th and 8 pm, October 25th at 8 pm, November 2nd at 8 pm, November 8th and 9th at 8 pm, and November 15th at 8 pm where Alli will not be doing the shows on October 12th and 25th.  Alli went to Ball State which is in my hometown and unfortunately never got the pleasure to really know her, what I will always remember is that intense choreography at the RENT auditions at the theater in Fishers.


Under the Shadow (2016):  This is my Iranian horror film for the week which was directed by Babak Anvari.  Narges Rashida and Avin Manshadi star as mother/daughter Shideh and Dorsa who must cope with the terrors of post-revolution in war-torn Tehran.  Soon, a mysterious evil haunts their home and must do what they can to survive.  This is centered against the backdrop of the Iran-Iraq war and has a pretty good horror story to go along.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

Have You Ever Wondered (1947):  This is my comedy short for the week and is an entry from the Pete Smith Specialty series.  This takes some comedic looks on things like the better drivers between men and women, the average amount of money a gumball collects, among other things.  This has some pretty funny moments and is worth about ten minutes.

Of Mice and Men (1939):  Lewis Milestone directed this adaptation of the Steinbeck novel. Burgess Meredith stars as George and Lon Chaney Jr. stars as Lennie. They are migrant workers in depression era American. Lennie is very strong but very slow in the mind while George is his guardian who tries to protect him from exploitation.  Betty Field, Charles Bickford, Roman Bohnen, Bob Steele, Noah Beery Jr., and many others co-star. This came out in a year that gave all kinds of big titles where this one probably was not as recognized as others. The next year, there was an adaptation to Steinbeck's novel THE GRAPES OF WRATH and I liked this one better. Both the leads were great in their performances. Both of these stories by Steinback take place in the depression where the pursuance of the American Dream becomes very difficult. This movie was very well done and ranks up with much of the films of the era but has gone onto become quite underrated.  It is possible that I might audition for a version at the Muncie Civic Theater which is next year in February.

Dummy (1979):  This is my tv movie for the week which was directed by Frank Perry and based on the book by Ernest Tidyman.  Paul Sorvino stars as deaf attorney Lowell Myers who decides to defend a deaf and mute man named Donald Lang, played by LeVar Burton, who is also uneducated on things like sign language and reading lips.  Gregg Henry, Steven Williams, Helen Martin, Brian Dennehy, Holly Robinson-Peete and many others co-star in this tv movie.  This is based on a true story and shows the difficulty of defending a man who cannot communicate properly as well as the difficulty from the prosecution to prove anything.  This is a pretty compelling tv movie and the only way I was really able to find it was on a version through Youtube which was really worth watching so go check out pre-READING RAINBOW and STAR TREK:  THE NEXT GENERATION alum Levar Burton.

Animal Factory (2000):  This is my prison movie for the week which was directed by Steve Buscemi and is based on the novel by Edward Bunker who has a cameo and is likely most known as Mr. Blue in RESERVOIR DOGS.  Buscemi has a cameo appearance as well.  Edward Furlong stars as the young Ron Decker who is being sent to prison on marijuana charges and while there is taken under the wing of prison veteran Earl Copen, played by Willem Dafoe.  This mostly goes into the nature of prison survival and trying to get an early released.  Danny Trejo, Mark Boone Junior, Seymour Cassel, Mickey Rourke, Tom Arnold, John Heard, Chris Bauer, Vincent Laresca, and many others co-star in this film.  Rourke has a good and interesting performance as a transvestite prisoner.  This is a really good look at prison.  Bunker was a convicted felon turned author and actor.  I have not really found that this is based directly on him but we can be sure he was writing from experience.

Tammy and the Bachelor (1957):  Joseph Pevney directed this romantic comedy which is based on the novel by Cal Ricketts Sumner.  Debbie Reynolds stars as the unsophisticated title character who lives in a boat by the Mississippi river with her grandpa, played by Walter Brennan.  Leslie Nielsen co-stars as upper class southern gentleman Peter Brent whose plane crashes in the swamp, they help nurse him back to health.  When Tammy's grandpa gets sent to jail, he sends her to live with Pete and his family where she learns of a whole new world.  Maia Powers, Sidney Blackmer, Mildred Natwick, Fay Wray, Philip Ober, Craig Hill, Louise Beavers, and many others co-star in this film.  Reynolds is a lot of fun as the title character and Nielsen plays off her really well.  Reynolds was pregnant with Carrie Fisher while filming.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977):  Lewis Gilbert directed this Bond film which stars Roger Moore as agent 007.  Bond must investigate the hijacking of British and Russian submarines leading him to team with KGB agent Anya Amasova aka Agent XXX, played by Barbara Bach.  Their investigation leads them megalomaniac Karl Stromberg, played by Curt Jurgens, who has very unusual plans of how he wants the earth to be.  Bond also deals with Stromberg's iconic henchman Jaws, played by Richard Kiel.  Caroline Munro, Walter Gotell, Geoffrey Keen, Bernard Lee, Michael Billington, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, and many others co-star in this film.  This has always been one of my favorite Bond films especially in the Moore era.  Everything from the action, to the villains, to the scenery and to Bach as Agent XXX always keeps me engaged.

Hellboy:  Blood and Iron (2007):  I end the week with this animated comic book movie which essentially use the same actors from the live-action Hellboy films.  Professor Bruttenholm's, voiced by John Hurt past comes around as he and the team must investigate the possible reemergence of a vampire he had slain decades prior.  Hellboy, voiced by Ron Perlman, Liz, voiced by Selma Blair, and Abe Sapien, voiced by Doug Jones, help their mentor in the investigation.  Peri Gilpin, J. Grant Albrecht, Jim Cummings, Grey Griffin, Rob Paulsen, DeeDee Rescher, Kath Soucie, Cree Summer, James Arnold Taylor, and many others co-star in this film.  This is a pretty good animated film in the franchise and is a darker story than the movies and their other animated movie in my opinion.  This is the second of the animated movies and was supposed to have a trilogy but the third one never got off the ground.  This is available to watch on Hoopla Digital.

Well, that is it for this week but continue on for my segment of the Madness.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Naomi Watts, William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, and many others.


This is the first week of our annual contest where we get points for watching qualifying movies, tv shows, and special events.  I am one of the founding members and have earned the nickname "King of the Loophole" where each year depending on our theme we are given what are called wild cards which are usually actors and directors where we can use anything we want.  This year the theme is holidays where we focus on horror movies with holiday elements though I never usually stick much to the theme.  Through the years, I have come up with some really interesting movies to include on a Halloween list and this year and week is no exception.  I always like to categorize my movies, starting with the Wild Cards, then I might look to see if I can find an actor and director that have multiple selections on my list and if I can't find that I just make my own category.  They make us do ratings so I always use the four 6 system instead of stars.


Bob is a wild card this year due to him directed BLACK CHRISTMAS and the one I featured probably enhanced his named even more.

A Christmas Story (1983, 93 minutes, 666):  Yes, I have this Christmas film featured in a Halloween contest all on account of Bob Clark directing this movie.  I can't be the King of the Loophole without these kinds of selections, I just hope no one shoots my eye out for including this Christmas classic this time a year.


Burgess is a wild card this year who is likely most known as the Penguin in the Batman sitcom, Mick in the ROCKY franchise, and in the later years maybe from GRUMPY OLD MEN.  I did not really pinpoint exactly what qualifies him for the list but did get a couple good loopholes.

Of Mice and Men (1939 106 minutes, 666 1/2):  Burgess plays the part of George which makes his film count on our Halloween oriented contest.  In the past, Lon Chaney Jr. has made this qualify but for this year I get to use Mr. Meredith.

Rocky (1976, 120 minutes, 6666):  I can never pass up an opportunity for this inspirational film that Sylvester Stallone wrote in a make or break situation taking an even bigger risk casting himself.  Burgess plays his iconic managerial character Mick.  In the past, I have used this as a loophole due to the small part of Troma director Lloyd Kaufman in the movie.



Caleb is not a wild card in the contest but was able to get him connected with a couple selections.

Get Out (2017, 104 minutes, 666):  This is clear horror that has a lot of social commentary to go along.  Caleb is part of the racist family in the movie that puts Daniel Kayuuya's life at odds.\

The Last Exorcism (2010, 87 minutes, 66 1/2):  Not a bad exorcism movie with it being shot with a hand-held camera and shot like a documentary.  Caleb plays the brother of the girl getting exorcised.

X-Men:  First Class (2011, 131 minutes, 666):  I feel this X-men prequel should count for if anything the character of Beast and they are referred to as mutants.  I liked the story here and they way they worked the X-men into a historical situation of the '60s.  Caleb plays X-men member Banshee.


Caroline is a wild card this year.  She has done a lot in the way of horror and maybe one day she will be a wild card if they ever go for my idea of a "women in horror" theme.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977, 125 minutes, 666 1/2):  This Bond movie qualifies this year with Caroline playing the female villain Naomi.



The Thing From Another World (1951, 87 minutes, 666):  This classic horror goes without saying to qualify with a bloodthirsty alien organism wreaking havoc all over the place.


Danny is a wild card this year which I assume coming from the Rob Zombie version of HALLOWEEN and helped by being in Christmas comedy A VERY HAROLD AND KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS.  I have some really good wild cards for this one.

Animal Factory (2000, 94 minutes, 666):  This prison movie counts this year with Danny having a role as the prisoner Vito.

Heat (1995, 170 minutes, 666 1/2):  This was always one of my favorites growing up so I could not pass this action crime movie up as a loophole.  Danny is part of the robbery gang and is my first memory of really seeing him.

Storks (2016, 87 minutes, 66 1/2):  This animated movie about storks qualifies as Danny provides the name of Jasper.  Nothing great, but a fun watch and one the family can enjoy.



Rosemary's Baby (1968, 137 minutes, 666):  This horror classic goes without saying as Rosemary's life goes haywire when becoming pregnant.



Doug is not a wild card this year but maybe one day he will get that label.  He went to Ball State which is in my town and a few years ago he returned to Muncie to be in the Ball State produced MY NAME IS JERRY in which I was an extra and got to meet him on a couple of occasions.  He was very cool to talk to and hope to see him again sometime.  He is most known for his prosthetic work that he does for his characters.

Hellboy:  Blood and Iron (2007, 75 minutes, 666):  Just the character of Hellboy gets this qualified but enhanced by vampires and werewolves that are a part of this one.  Doug reprises his role of Abe Sapien and after being dubbed by David Hyde Pierce in the first movie, he has since got to do it himself proving to be just as good for his voice.

Pan's Labyrinth (2006, 118 minutes, 666):  This easily qualifies as dark fantasy as well as creature feature.  Doug has a dual role as both Fauno and Pale Man.

The Shape of Water (2017, 123 minutes, 666 1/2):  This would qualify as a creature feature I would thing.  Doug plays the Amphibious creature in captivity from the military and forms a relationship with a mute janitor who works there and is concerned with his treatment.  I did not know what to expect but really exceeding my expectations.



Dreams (1990, 119 minutes, 666):  I will have to explain and try to justify this one probably.  There is a scene which involves ghosts from the war and another segment which feature mutated humans.

The Seventh Seal (1957, 96 minutes, 666):  Just the character of the Grim Reaper/Death should qualify this one.

Under the Shadow (2016, 84 minutes, 666):  This has a lot of ghostly elements to it making it qualify.



Kevin is a wild card this year due to his involvement in the movie HOLIDAYS where he is one of the directors and probably helps that he did RED STATE and TUSK.

Clerks (1994, 92 minutes, 666 1/2):  This movie qualifies this year on account of Kevin directed and co-starring.  This is his debut film and has remained significant and funny since spawning off a great series of Jay and Silent Bob movies that are very vulgar and have a message.  I find with this movie and CHASING AMY it has a message of letting someone move on with the past and your own past.  Still one of my favorites of a movie that just about any convenience store work envies these people and wishes they could do what was done and said in this movie.

The Disaster Artist (2017, 104 minutes, 666 1/2):  This biopic qualifies due to Kevin being in the beginning as one of the people playing themselves to reflect on THE ROOM.

Teen Titans:  The Judas Contract (2017, 74 minutes, 666):  This animated dc movie that would probably qualify either way but Kevin makes it happen for sure by having a cameo as himself.

Tusk (2014, 102 minutes, 66 1/2):  Some horror the Kevin Smith way.  This was pretty weird but different at the same time.  It is not for everyone but have to admire Kevin Smith's horror choices that he directs.  Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez, Johnny Depp, Harley Morenstein, Michael Parks, Ralph Garman, Jennifer Schwalbach, Harley Quinn Smith, Lily-Rose Depp, and many others co-star and yes, Lily-Rose Depp is the daughter of Johnny.  This has a good combination of comedy and horror and manages to keep my attention.



Leslie is a wild card this year.  I am not quite sure on what exactly got him qualified but I'll take it.

Tammy  and the Bachelor (1957, 89 minutes, 666):  This romantic comedy qualifies on account of Nielsen being the leading man.


This STAR TREK alum and READING RAINBOW host qualifies this year.  I know the trivia question in our group that one can win extra points if being first to answer, which will not be me, is on here but have not gone that in-depth.

Dummy (1979, 96 minutes, 666 12):  This is one of those I probably would have never come across had it not been for Mr. Burton being our wild card so it is discoveries like these that make me glad to do this concert.  This movie based on a court trial qualifies this year.

Reading Rainbow:  Little Nino's Pizzaria (1989, 27 minutes 666):  I could not go without an episode of this kids show where Levar teaches us how to make a pizza, we get to hear the book LITTLE NINO'S PIZZARIA, and saw a family demonstrate their lighting off fireworks.  I don't know when the last time I watched this show but was good to relive it.



Robby is not a wild card this year but was able to get a couple qualifying selections so made a category for the man most known as the beast and had a lot of good movies from the '70s.

Beauty and the Beast (1991, 84 minutes, 666):  This Disney film should qualify as both creature feature and the enchantress in the beginning.  This is probably Robby's most known role.  I had the honor of playing Lefou over a decade ago.  I just wish that music from the musical had been worked in somehow like Robby Benson getting to sing IF I CAN'T LOVE HER.

City Limits (1984, 86 minutes, 66):  This has some dystopian elements to it and was riffed on MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000.  Robby plays the corrupt CEO.



Sarah is not a wild card this year but decided to make a category for my high school/college crush and used work for when she was on her biggest rise.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer:  The Gift (2001, 44 minutes, 666 1/2):  This was my show growing up and this episode is the season 5 finale where they have one final battle against Glory and possibly my favorite episode.  There are so many memorable scenes in my mind before that memorable ending of the episode.  I still get emotional to this day when watching this episode.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997, 101 minutes, 66 1/2):  This easily qualifies coming out around the time that teen horror was on the rise.  The hook wielding killer gets this to qualify.  Sarah plays the protagonist's best friend.



This former angel of Charlie's is not a wild card but watched a couple of qualifying movies from the '80s that I made her a category.

The Stepfather (1987, 89 minutes, 66 1/2):  This is some classic '80s horror with what was at the time Terry O'Quinn was more known for until years later he become John Locke in LOST.  This is quite gory and not for everyone.  Shelley plays the wife of the murderous stepfather.

Troll (1986, 82 minutes, 66 1/2):  This does not need much explanation, as it is a creature feature.  Shelley plays the mother of the protagonist family.



Multiple Maniacs (1970, 91 minutes, 66 1/2):  This John Waters film is billed as horror and in the end there is a scene involving a 15 foot lobster which should get this qualify.



Warwick is a wild card this year likely do to his LEPRECHAUN movies and helped by his work in some fantasy films.

Life's Too Short (2011, 210 minutes, 666 1/2):  This is an HBO comedy series with starring Warwick and Ricky Gervais where Warwick plays a parody of himself in his day to day struggles like the divorce he is going through, his fading fame, and his tax situation.  There are some great guest appearances from people like Liam Neeson, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Steve Carell, and Sting.  There is even a cameo appearance from Right Said Fred.  This is a Madness discovery as I had not even heard of this until I looked into Davis and found this available on Amazon Prime.  It consists of seven episodes and found it absolutely hilarious.

Life's Too Short (2013, 53 minutes, 666):  This was an hour long episode that picks up from where the 2011 series left off with Val Kilmer having an idea for a movie and Warwick trying to get his life together.  Still delivers the laughs and Davis shows his comedic talent.


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