Sunday, October 21, 2018

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 675th Edition and the Madness: Holidaze- Week 3

Welcome to the 675th Edition of my series and week three of the Madness.  We have finished one weekend of Dracula and it has been very well received.  We still have three more performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday being Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2 pm.  Tickets are $18 and it is at the Richmond Civic Theater.  Come see me in all my insanity playing Renfield.  I will get on with my selections.

Thor:  Ragnarok (2017):  I open up with this installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the third of the Thor series.  Taika Waititi directed this film where Thor, reprised by Chris Hemsworth, becomes imprisoned on the planet Sakaar but must find a way to escape to save his own world of Asgard from his ruthless sister Hela, played by Cate Blanchett.  While on Sakaar, he gets put into the gladiator like tournaments and finds that the Hulk, reprised by Mark Ruffalo, is also there and looks to get him back to his senses to help him fight on Asgard.  Joining him is Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, and his brother Loki, reprised by Tom Hiddleston.  Benedict Cumberbatch makes a cameo as Dr Strange in this film.  Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Taika Waititi, Rachel House, Clancy Brown, Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson, and many others co-star in this film.  I have seen criticism of this one for having too much humor but it was something I enjoyed about the movie as well as the action.  I have found the superhero genre is the most subjective genre in film and television.  I was also very amused by Goldblum's villainous character that saw over Sakaar.  I also really liked the music score in this movie brought to us by Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh.  This movie really plays into its next installment of AVENGERS:  INFINITY WAR.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

Warm Bodies (2013):  I follow with this zombie romantic comedy.  Nicholas Hoult stars as a zombie named R who after meeting feeding on another human, played by Dave Franco, forms a connection to his girlfriend Julie, played by Teresa Palmer.  He becomes her protector and she starts to take a liking to the zombie.  Analeigh Tipton, Rob Corddry, John Malkovich, Cory Hardrict, and many others co-star in this film.  This was an interesting twist to the zombie genre where it is taken from the zombie point of view and what they must do to survive.  It is also loosely based on ROMEO AND JULIET.  This is a very clever romantic comedy with a zombie twist.

The Witch (2015):  I go much darker in this selection.  Robert Eggers wrote and directed this film that takes place in 1630s New England.  It centers around a devout Christian family whose newborn disappears and other happenings are going on leading the family to turn on one another through beliefs that witchcraft is happening.  Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Crimshaw, Julian Richings, Sarah Stephens, Daniel Chaudhry, and many others co-star in this film.  This is one that is a bit hard to explain in my opinion.  It has a creepy and atmospheric tone to it with good performances.  It is a really good entry into independent horror and one for the season.  This is available to watch on Netflix.

Bobby Bumps starts for School (1917):  This is my animated short for the week.  Bobby Bumps was a character that was created by Earl Hurd and had its own series of shorts from 1915-1925.  In this one, Bobby is in school and is not in well with his teacher with his daydreaming during class.  I suppose this is an early look at having problems with authority.  This is another from the pioneering days of animation.  This is available on Filmstruck as well as many other early animation shorts from the Cartoon Roots collection.

The Bye-Bye Sky-High Murder Case (1977):  This is technically an episode of the tv series COLUMBO but as I always say, I write this blog and I decide what gets to go on here.  Peter Falk stars in his most known role of the Columbo and must contend with a murderer with a very high IQ in Oliver Brandt, played by Theodore Bikel.  Kenneth Mars, Sorrell Booke, Samantha Eggar, Basil Hoffman, Howard McGillan, George Sperdakos, Jamie Lee Curtis, and many others co-star in this episode.  This is an early role for Curtis before her big breakthrough as Laurie Strode in HALLOWEEN.  This was always a pretty entertaining series and had quite a few before they hit it big like Curtis in this episode.

That Uncertain Feeling (1941):  This is my romantic comedy for the week which was directed by Ernst Lubitsch and based on a play by Victorien Sardou and Emile DeNajac.  Merle Oberon stars as Jill Baker who has a happy marriage with Larry, played by Melvyn Douglas, and reluctantly agrees to see a psychoanalyst about her constant hiccups making her question her marriage.  While there, she meets fellow patient and pianist Alexander Sebastian, played by Burgess Meredith, who is just as confused as her and form feelings for each other making Jill rethink her life.  Alan Mowbray, Olive Blakeney, Harry Davenport, Sig Ruman, Eve Arden, Richard Carle, and many others co-star in this film.  This does have some pretty funny moments and is a rather clever romantic comedy.  It does beg the question though of who in their right mind would choose Melvyn over Burgess or maybe this made him disillusioned to become the man he was in ROCKY.  If I'm not mistaken, this is a rare romantic comedy turn for Meredith and does well in this one.

Pumpkinhead (1988):  I go from a romantic comedy to more of a seasonal selection that started a fairly popular series.  Stan Winston directed this horror film which stars Lance Henriksen as Ed Harley who is a single father living in a remote town and has a really good relationship with his son Billy, played by Matthew Hurley.  Things change when a young and rambunctious group of bikers accidently kill Billy causing Ed to seek vengeance with a demonic creature named Pumpkinhead.   Jeff East, John D'Aquino, Joel Hoffman, Cynthia Bain, Kerry Remsen, Florence Schauffler, Brian Bremer, Buck Flower, Mayim Bialik, and many others co-star in this film.  This is not exactly for everyone and is not a family film.  Also, if you are expecting an actual pumpkin as a head, you will be sadly disappointed.  If you can get past the violence, it is a pretty underrated horror film and is available on Amazon Prime.

Pete's Dragon (1977):  Now I bring a more family oriented movie though people do seem to get drunk a lot.  Don Chaffey directed this movie which stars Sean Marshall as the title character who is an orphan boy that becomes friends with a dragon named Elliott, voiced by Charlie Callas.  Pete is also on the run from his abusive adopted family which includes Shelley Winters in the sort of role she does best.  In the process, he meets lighthouse keeper Nora, played by Helen Reddy, and her father Lampie, played by Mickey Rooney, who are more ideal to parent.  There is also the corrupt Dr. Terminus, played by Jim Dale, who is out to capture and exploit Elliot.  Red Buttons, Jane Kean, Jim Backus, Charles Tyner, Gary Morgan, Jeff Conaway, Cal Bartlett, Walter Barnes, and many others co-star in this film that really centers around hope.  This was at a time Don Bluth worked for Disney and is the main animator of Elliott before leaving them to form his own successful animation company.  This has a pretty good soundtrack by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn that includes the very successful song CANDLE IN THE WATER.  This is one that is fun for the whole family and lives on through the generations.

The Haunted Strangler (1958):  Robert Day directed this horror film which stars Boris Karloff as researcher James Rankin who is investigating the 20 year old execution of a notorious serial killer.  Through his investigation, he appears to be possessed by the spirit of the killer causing him to commit similar murders and not knowing what happened.  Jean Kent, Elizabeth Allan, Anthony Dawson, Vera Day, Tim Turner, and many others co-star in this film.  This is another good one for the season where Karloff does really well in his Jekyll and Hyde type transformations.  There is not much else more to describe this horror film but it available to watch on Filmstruck.

The House of the Devil (2009):  This has always been one of my favorites in the horror genre which is a genre that is not particularly my favorite.  Ti West wrote and directed this independent horror film which stars Jocelin Donahue stars as broke college student Samantha who takes a babysitting job which turns out to be a rather unusual one but takes it for the money.  She soon learns that her clients, played by Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov, lead a satanic cult where she must soon fight for her life.  Greta Gerwig, AJ Bowen, and Dee Wallace all co-star.  I remember seeing this a couple years ago and actually liked it far more than I thought I would.  Donahue carries it very well by herself when she is at the home by herself trying to figure out what is happening.  This takes place in the 80s and how can you dislike a movie which has THE BREAKUP SONG by the Greg Kihn Band.  This did have some good suspense and Ti West did a great job of making a good movie out of a familiar storyline.

Well, that is it for this week but read on for week 3 of the Madness.  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Anna Paquin, Toni Collette, and many others.


We are now in week three of this contest.  As always, I try to make categories out of names but I do have a rough list I use and had to come up with some of them.


Anya is not a wild card this year.  I don't know a lot about her but appears to be on the rise and with my multiple selections, I decided to make her into a category.

Split (2016, 117 minutes, 666 1/2):  This psychological thriller could be M. Night Shyamalan's best work and James McAvoy's best performance as a man with 23 personalities where one of them kidnaps three girls including Anya.

Vampire Academy (2014, 104 minutes, 66):  Anya makes her debut in this movie in an uncredited role as a feeder girl which launched what has been a successful career.  This is a based on a teen series of vampire novels by Rachel Mead.  Evidently not as successful as the TWILIGHT series as this has not followed up with anything.

The Witch (2015, 92 minutes, 666):  No explanation needed for this one that centers around witchcraft.  Anya plays the older child Thomasin.



Burgess is one of our wild cards that I used in week one and decided to use him again this week.

That Uncertain Feeling (1941, 84 minutes, 666):  A romantic comedy that would usually not count but does here thanks to our wild card for the year Burgess Meredith.



Clancy is not a wild card though was one of our very first wild cards as I recall being able to use SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS on account of this man.  I did have a couple selection on my list so decided to make him into a category.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010, 95 minutes, 66):  The actors did what they could but it just did not match its predecessor with Jackie Earle Haley playing Freddy, a character that just cannot be replaced.  Clancy plays one of the parents with the deep and dark secret.

Thor Ragnarok (2017, 130 minutes, 666 1/2):  This should easily qualify with the Hulk making it a creature feature and Clancy's devilish character Surtur shown below.



Pumpkinhead (1988, 86 minutes, 66 1/2):  I could not think of a better category and did not have movies with the same actors on my list.



The Haunted Strangler (1958, 78 minutes, 66 1/2):  This is billed as horror and it has Boris Karloff as a well-meaning researcher ending up in Jekyll and Hyde type flashbacks.

Jekyll (2007, 334 minutes, 666):  This is a BBC mini-series with an update version on the Robert Louis Stevenson character.  James Nesbitt stars as Dr. Tom Jackman who is a descendant of Dr. Jekyll and has inherited the Mr. Hyde side.  This has six episodes and wonder if they ever had plans to further the series.  This is an annual to semi-annual watch I have this time of year.



Jamie is a wild card this year as we cannot be without her doing a theme on the holidays.  She is sure to be a wild card if they ever do what I want with "Women in Horror".

The Bye-Bye Sky-High Murder Case (1977, 70 minutes, 66 1/2):  This is an episode from COLUMBO and has a young Jamie Lee as a waitress and would soon skyrocket into fame.

Forever Young (1992, 102 minutes, 666):  In a Madness where all sci-fi counts, I could make an argument to include it with the use of putting Mel Gibson in cryogenics in 1939 only to wake in 1992 but not all sci-fi is accepted.  However, Jamie co-stars in this Mel Gibson film making it count for the year.



Margot is a wild card this year due to her work in BLACK CHRISTMAS.  

Confessions of a Superhero (2007, 92 minutes, 666 1/2):  This was a documentary that focused on four people in Los Angeles who parade around in superhero outfits and panhandle the crowd.  Margot makes an appearance where she is doing an autograph session during an annual Superman festival in Metropolis, Illinois.



Mickey is not a wild card but found a couple qualifying movies to use so decided to make a category out of this legendary actor.  A few years ago, I saw him in a live show with his wife that was a lot of fun.

The Muppets (2011, 103 minutes, 6666):  One of my favorites and should count with being a creature feature.  Mickey has a cameo in the film.

Pete's Dragon (1977, 128 minutes 66 1/2):  This Disney classic should count for being a creature feature.  Mickey co-stars as Lampie and saw his looks really did not change from the time he was a kid to an older adult.



Rob is not a wild card but found a couple of his comedic movies that have qualifying genres.

Hell Baby (2013, 98 minutes, 66 1/2):  This is a horror comedy that spoofs exorcisms with Leslie Bibb seemingly being possessed while pregnant.  Rob star as her husband just trying to get through his wife acting strange.  I found it to be a bit much at times but there were some laughs.  Garfunkel and Oates fans will love Riki Lindhome in this movie.

Warm Bodies (2013, 98 minutes, 666):  This zombie qualifies without saying.  Rob co-stars as one of the zombies.



The House of the Devil (2009, 95 minutes, 666 1/2):  This has become an annual to semi-annual watch and always enjoy watching this movie.


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