Sunday, October 6, 2019

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 720th Edition

Welcome to the 720th Edition of my series.  Today is the official start of our annual contest of the Madness which has been happening for twelve years and started during the Myspace days.  Next week will have a special segment of all the movies and shows for the contest.

A Quiet Place (2018):  John Krasinski goes behind the camera as director and writer while also starring in this low-budget horror film.  This takes place in a post-apocalyptic world full of creatures who hunt others upon sound.  Krasinski stars in this film as Lee Abbott who along with his wife Evelyn, played by Krasinski's real-life girlfriend Emily Blunt, try to protect their three kids, played by Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, and Cade Woodward, and many remain as silent as possible to avoid the creatures.  This movie is in many ways a silent film where the family communicates a lot with sign language while actress Simmonds is a real-life deaf person and use subtitles for the signing.  This was a very compelling and admirable effort from Krasinski and was considered by many to be the best horror film of 2018.  I always respect when actors take on low-budget projects like these and hope Krasinski will continue work this one.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017):  This is my superhero selection for the week and part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  James Gunn directed this sequel to the 2014 hit where we join the title group which includes Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt, Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana, Drax, played by former WWE champion Dave Bautista, Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, and Baby Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel.  A lot of this one centers around Star-Lord aka Peter Quill who looks to uncover his true heritage starting with the meeting of his father Ego, played by Kurt Russell.  Another part of this is the relationship and the sibling rivalry taken to a new level between Gamora and her sister Nebula, played by Karen Gillan.  This movie also introduces the newest guardian in Mantis, played by Pom Klementieff.  Michael Rooker, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock, and many others plus a few celebrity cameos.  To the wrestling fans, Batista was doing a laugh which I am pretty sure was an imitation to WWE Hall of Famer Tony Atlas.  The first one was known for its soundtrack and this one is no different.  All in all, this has a lot of humor and action and was a pretty fun one to sit through.  As always, don't stop when the credits come up.

Freddy's Dead:  The Final Nightmare (1991):  This is the 6th in this NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise which was directed by Rachel Talalay.  Robert Englund reprises his role of Freddy and continues to terrorize the older kids in their dreams but an unexpected connection could mean his doom.  Lisa Zane, Leslie Deane, Ricky Dean Logan, Breckin Meyer, Yaphet Kotto, and many others co-star in this final part of the series, I mean the title says final so it is right?  As most know, they would go onto to do more with the Freddy Krueger character where Englund would play his iconic character a couple more times.  Look for some cameos with Roseanne Barr, Tom Arnold, Johnny Depp, and even Alice Cooper.  They also did some 3-D scenes but I did not have the glasses needed to watch them.  This is pretty enjoyable if not taken too seriously and especially good for this time of year

Dark Shadows:  Episode 1 (1966):  This month, I am looking to do first episodes of iconic shows from this era and count them as a short film.  Last week, I did the first episode of BEWITCHED and this week I decided up this popular soap opera.  This is the very first episode of this cult classic which was created by Dan Curtis and directed by Lela Swift.  We are introduced to the town of Collinsport, Maine.  Victoria Winters, played by Alexandra Isles, is offered employment as a governess to a young boy in the town of Collinsport.  While getting to the town, she meets many that advise her not to go but she persists in working for this eccentric family that we would learn to be vampires.  This was long before the iconic Barnabas Collins would come onto the show.  This is available to watch on Amazon Prime as "Dark Shadows:  The Beginning" with the rest of the show being available as well.

White Zombie (1932):  Now I bring an early zombie film long before Romero would make it into such a popular genre.  Madge Bellamy stars as Madeline Short who arrives in Haiti to reunite with her fiance Neil, played by John Harron.  Robert Frazer co-stars as plantation owner Charles Beaumont who has his own interests toward Madeline and turns to witch doctor Legendre, played by Bela Lugosi, helps make her marry him.  The results turn Madeline into a zombie.  What more can I say about this movie except some classic horror with Bela Lugosi and some early zombies before we really put a definition on them.

The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941):  William Dieterle directed this film which is based on a story by Stephen Vincent Benet.  James Craig stars as struggling New Hampshire farmer Jabez Stone who meets a man named Mr. Scratch, played by Walter Huston which is really Satan.  Stone makes a deal for prosperity and while becoming successful, he slowly loses his compassion for others and when finally realizing this, he must ask for his attorney friend Daniel Webster, played by Edward Arnold, to help end the pact.  Jane Darwell, Simone Simon, Gene Lockhart, John Qualen, H.B. Warner, Lindy Wade, George Cleveland, Anne Shirley, and many others co-star in this film.  Huston is clearly having all kinds of fun playing the Devil.  This is a pretty funny and compelling story of a farmer just trying to not struggle and comes to a really interesting climax.

The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954):  Now I bring some classic Universal Horror.  An expedition group goes along the Amazon River in search of some fossils but find a mysterious gill-man.  The explorers look to capture the creature to study it but finds that is not easy. Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno, Nestor Paiva, Whit Bissell, and Bernie Gozier co-star in this creature classic.  I have always thought of the creature as the tragic hero in that he is just living in his habitat and not bothering people but is encounter.  There are also some pretty underrated sequels that further my opinion of the title character being the tragic hero.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974):  Now I turn to a more disturbing slasher film which was directed by Tobe Hooper.  A group of friends end up in a small Texas town and break down while discovering a group of cannibals which includes the iconic Leatherface, played by Gunnar Hansen.  Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vale, Teri McMinn, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, John Dugan, and many others co-star in this horror film while John Larroquette is uncreddited as the narrator.  This is loosely based on serial killer Ed Gein which is the basis of many serial killer movies.  This is by no means for everyone but is a very compelling film that works very well with the low budget.  This has inspired quite a franchise that includes some sequels and a remake but nothing will ever beat this one.

The Witch (2015):  Robert Eggers wrote and directed this film that takes place in 1630s New England.  Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie star as William and Katherine who try to lead a devout Christian life but mysterious things happen the family begins turning on one another, most notably on the oldest daughter Thomasin, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, that is suspected of being a witch.  Harvey Scrimshaw, Julian Richings, Bathsheba Garnett, Sarah Stephens, Daniel Malik, Viv Moore, and many others co-star in this film.  This seems to capture the era and takes place before the Salem Witchcraft Trials.  This is a pretty disturbing film that Stephen King has sighted that he was terrified when watching this movie.

Beauty and the Beast (1991):  I end the week with this '90s Disney classic which is the Disney take to the classic tale written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve.  I think most know this story of a Prince, voiced by Robby Benson, who is cursed to become a Beast and the only way to reverse the curse is to learn to love and be loved in return.  Belle, voiced by Paige O'Hara, must look for her father, voiced by Rex Everhart, only to learn he has been imprisoned in the castle of the Beast and offers to take his place and stay in the castle.  With the help of the enchanted castle, the Beast slowly wins over Belle.  Jesse Corti, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, Bradley Pierce, David Ogden Stiers, Richard White, Mary Kay Berman, Tony Jay and many others co-star in this tale as old as time.  This has some really good musical numbers from Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.  Most know that years ago, I had the honor of playing Lefou at the Muncie Civic Theater and was one of the funnest roles I have played.  I know some are opposed to the recent live-action remake and while it did not capture this magic, there were a couple elements that I really liked about it so if you want to know, you'll just have to message me.

Well, that is it for this part of the series but read on for my segment of "The Bookworm Corner".  Tell me what you like and dislike and stay tuned for next week which so far includes Brad Pitt, Nicolas Cage, Lana Turner, James Earl Jones, and many others.


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818):  This time I bring a more classic novel and a timeless story that has been adapted in some way since the start of film and television.  This centers around the young scientist Victor Frankenstein who decides to create a living man in an unorthodox experiment.  While he had rather good intentions, they all went awry for both.  This is a narrative coming from Victor and the Creature who is mostly abandoned by his creator and has a hard time adjusting to the new society driving him to revenge.  I think just about everyone has a seen a version of sort of this story.  I got to be in a play years ago which I found was somewhat accurate to this novel in terms of some of the incidents and characters.  Having the experience of the play was what made me understand this the most.  I tried reading DRACULA but I just could not get into the structure of the book as much as I have always liked the story as well as getting to play Renfield last year.  I doubt I will be reading much in the way of classic novels but this was worth a read but glad to be getting back into more modern books.  I think maybe we could refer to Mary Shelley as the mother of sci-fi and horror and the entertainment world owes her a lot.

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