Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Shaun Berk's 10 Movie Recommendations- 416th Edition and the Madness: Video Nasty- week 4

Welcome to the 416th Edition of my long running series and the last week of this year's Madness.I was not as productive this year as I was in others but always enjoy that great annual contest.Next week, I celebrate eight years of this blog in which all this time I have actually done this on a weekly basis.I know, I'm more amazed than anyone but it has been a very fun ride.

The Crow (1994):I start this week out with this very dark film based on a comic book series by James O'Barr and directed by Alex Proyas.Brandon Lee stars as rock star Eric Draven and along with his fiancee is brutally murdered.A year after the murder, a crow brings him back to life in an invincible form driving Draven to seek vengeance upon those who murdered him.Ernie Hudson co-stars as Sergeant Albrecht who is an aging and bitter police officer and helps Draven after seeing he is going after the biggest scum of the earth.Rochelle Davis co-stars as the street smart kid Sarah whom Eric cared for at one time and does a very good job in her role.Michael Wincott, Bai Ling, Tony Todd,and Jon Polito all co-star in this film.I really like this movie on many levels beginning with the perfect movie soundtrack like the Cure, Stone Temple Pilots, Violent Femmes, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Agaisnt the Machine, among others.I also really liked the beginning part when establishing Eric as a good person who does not deserve what he gets which produce some occasional moving scenes among all the darkness and the violence.There are also some really good action scenes of the vengeance.What's most known about this movie is that this is Brandon Lee's last movie and for those that do not know, he is the son of the legendary martial artist Bruce Lee.He died during filming when taking a bullet which was supposed to a blank.As unfortunate of a situation as that is, I really find this to be up there in my favorites.Lee did a great job in his last role.I have not actually seen any of the sequels or tv series as i just don't know if it will be the same.This did inspire things like the evolution of the wrestler Sting and his look after years of having the blonde surfer look.This is available on Instant Netflix and is a very good action film.

Jasper and the Haunted House (1942):This is my animated short for the week.This is what is called a puppetoon which uses stop-motion animation.A boy named Jasper is trying to deliver a pie to Deacon Jones but is tricked by Professor Scarecrow into going into a house which is haunted leading Professor Scarecrow and Blackbird but get the tables turned on them.This was a character who had a few shorts and was a very controversial character as he is quite the stereotypical black person which could lead into accusations of racism which gave a disclaimer when I came across it.Now this was an era where things like this was more acceptable but will offend some.The animation of this was actually quite good.I found this on my Pub-D-Hub app on my Roku player but is findable on youtube.

The Walking Dead (1936):Michael Curtiz directed this early horror film and this has nothing to do with that popular AMC series which I confess I have never seen but sure I will someday.Boris Karloff plays hapless pianist John Elman who is framed for murder and then executed.He is soon brought back to life by a scientist but only has revenge on his mind for those who framed him.This is one I had not heard of and in the beginning I almost did not recognize Karloff who really did a good job in this underrated performance of his.This is a very interesting mix of horror and gangster and a must for classic horror buffs.

From Hell (2001):The Hughes Brothers directed this film based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell which stars Johnny Depp as the drug addicted Victorian era detective Frederick Abberline who must investigate the murders of Jack the Ripper who is brutally murdering prostitutes.Heather Graham co-stars as Mary Kelly who appears to be the Ripper's next target and is falling for Frederick.The cinematography creates a very good tone to the film of hopelessness in the bad part of England.Robbie Coltrane, Ian Holm, and Ian Richardson all co-star in this film.It is also a really interesting interpretation of the murders which were never actually solved as Jack the Ripper was never found but did a good job of theorizing these murders.The performances were pretty good in this film and the murders are very grotesque which is what they were in real life.A lot of good research was done for the graphic novel and this movie.

The Godfather:Part II (1974):Francis Ford Coppola takes the help of director once again in what is considered by many to be one of the best sequels of all time.Al Pacino reprises his role of Michael Corleone who is now the head of the family and is looking to expand his family business into Las Vegas, Hollywood, and Cuba in the 1950s.The other story is of the young Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando in the first movie and played very well by Robert De Niro in this one, in the 1910s.Michael Corleone is now one of the most powerful men in the world and is really a lot more ruthless and conniving than is father.With Vito Corleone, it shows his own rise in the mafia world as he first meets Clemenza and Tessio and deals with the very ruthless crime lord Don Fanucci whose methods are not liked by Vito.They are very parallel stories of Michael and his father Vito and a great contrast of the two characters in very good performances.Robert Duvall, John Cazale, Talia Shire, Lee Strasberg, G.D. Spradlin, Bruno Kirby, SOPRANOS alum Dominic Chianese, Danny Aiello, and many others co-star in this film.Also look for Harry Dean Stanton and Roger Corman as extras.This is partly based on Mario Puzo's novel which includes the flashback scenes of Vito Corleone which were left out of the first one but the story of Michael Corleone was more of Coppola's story that was co-written by Puzo.This is a movie in which really focuses on the family and will not see constant violence so if that is what you are looking for, this is not it.In this, when killings happen, they really mean something and is considered by many to be both the best sequel and movie of all time which include many really good performances.It is a very good story of the ruthless world of the mafia yet manage to make many sympathetic characters despite the lack of morals.A movie which is great on many levels.

Monsters vs. Aliens (2009):This is my animated Dreamworks selection for the week.A California woman named Susan Murphy, voiced by Reese Witherspoon, is about to have the best day of her life and is about to get married until a meteorite hits her and turns her into a giant where she gets abducted by the government.She then meets other monsters like B.O.B., voiced by Seth Rogan, Dr. Cockroach, voiced by Hugh Laurie, voiced by Will Arnett, and Insectosaurus.These characters were a nice little homage from classic horror like B.O.B. referencing the blob, Dr. Cockroach referencing the fly, the Missing link, referencing the creature from the black lagoon, and Insectosaurus which is a reference to Mothra.They have been rounded up through the years through the government and become the only hope against an alien attack that is coming.Many others like Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert, Paul Rudd, Jeffrey Tambor, Amy Poehler, Ed Helms, Renee Zellweger, and John Krasinski provide voices.This is an enjoyable one for the family and as I mentioned, I really liked the homage that these characters created.

Freaks (1932):I found this at midnight on TCM and since it is onlyTod Browning directed this Universal classic horror film though I believe the word horror is used very loosely here.This movie centers around many of the "freaks" from this era who were exploited to no end at places like circuses and on vaudeville.These included everything from midgets, siamese twins, the bearded lady, and many others.The story of the film is that of midget performer Hans, played by Harry Earles, who falls for a beautiful trapese artist who went by Cleopatra, played by Olga Baclanova, who is a seemingly good person but is only out for the money.When the other sideshow freaks learn about this plot, they take their revenge.A lot of people have called this movie exploitation which is really the wrong word.These people were already being exploited but I believe Browning wanted to show that these people are human and have feelings.Another interesting element is that the villains in the movie are "normal" looking people.These are people that Browning already knew and did a great job in the making of this very significant film.

V/H/S (2012):This is my found footage horror for the week.Many people directed this movie that consists of many different stories.A group of misfits are hired to burglarize a home in order to get a VHS tape.They soon come across many tapes in which they must watch them to see which one is right which they get more than they bargained for when seeing some very bizarre footage.Each one has the home footage look to it and looks really good if you are into this type of thing.This has gotten a lot of mixed opinions but has become quite popular.There is now a sequel in which I have not seen yet.This is available on Instant Netflix.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966):This technically is not a tv special but I decided to put it as a movie anyways like I have in the past.I watched this on the night of Halloween when I had the pleasure of hanging out at my friend Shera's house with her and her daughters where we watched this and got my face painted up as a zombie for the halloween party I went to later at the bar.This is the timeless classic where Charlie and the gang are going trick or treating where everyone gets really good things except Charlie who gets rocks.The main story though is of Linus who is a big believer in the Great Pumpkin who is to rise every year on Halloween above the pumpkin patch.He refuses to give up on the existance of the Great Pumpkin and stays in the pumpkin patch throughout Halloween in hopes he will show up.The other storyline is of Snoopy being the Red Baron which lends a fun Halloween night.This is a timeless classic that all generations can enjoy so please show your children this one.

Children of the Corn (1984):I end with this horror movie based on the Stephen King novel.Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton star as a young couple who stumble into a remote town which is overrun by a group of very dangerous children.John Franklin stars as the boy preacher Isaac who is the leader of this gang but even they have dissention in the ranks.This movie lives on as more of a guilty pleasure in my opinion but still has a creepy feel to it and followed by many sequels.This is available to watch on Instant Netflix.

Well, that is it for this week.Tell me what you like and dislike but continue to read for the Madness.


This is the last week of my favorite contest.I just didn't really have as much time for this year but I got in some pretty good loopholes though which I am known for.The photo I posted is the one of the great make-up job that Shera did on me.I really had no intentions of doing anything that night but she would not allow that and made me into a zombie.This was done with rather limited resources and was a great job.Any movie studio or theater who needs a make-up artist, this girl can really get it done.


The Walking Dead (1936, 66 minutes, 2 points):666.Karloff is not a wild card but could not think of a better category besides the name of the horror legend.


The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, 76 minutes, 2 points):666 1/2.This is a very timeless film that has lived through many generations and has a great soundtrack.The photo I posted is a painting by my friend and karaoke partner Brittany.The photo does not do it justice.


The Crow (1994, 102 minutes, 2 points):666 1/2.I believe this should absolely count with the darkness of the film and the ressurection, among other things.

Justice League:Hereafter (2003, 45 minutes, 1 point):666.This should count with Batman.


Monsters vs. Aliens (2009, 94 minutes, 2 points):666. This should qualify with the monster characters in this film.


Dante's Inferno (2010, 88 minutes, 2 points):666.This is a good animated version of the take to the biblical story.


The Last Picture Show (1971, 118 minutes 2 points):666 1/2.This is my Ellen Burstyn Loophole of the week so this slice-of-life small town films counts as points.


V/H/S (2012, 116 minutes, 2 points):666.No explanation needed here


The Godfather Part II (1974, 200 minutes, 3.5 points):6666.I never knew about this one until very recently so I knew this had to be a loophole.Roger Corman plays one of the senators during the hearing and anything with Roger Corman counts so what better loophole than this one?


From Hell (2001, 122 minutes, 2 points):666.This is an obvious horror film.


It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (1966, 30 minutes, .5 points):This great special needs no explanation.


Freaks (1932, 62 minutes, 2 points):6666.This is a classic that should be viewed by everyone.
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