Tag Archives: Tim Burton

The Set of 400: #18 – My Favorite Dance with the Devil in the Pale Moonlight

Today! Because I’ve got a flying mouse to kill, and I want to clean my claws –

Batman (1989)

Directed by Tim Burton (x6)

Starring Michael Keaton (x9), Jack Nicholson (x7), Kim Basinger (x2), Robert Wuhl (x3), Michael Gough (x3), Pat Hingle (x3), Billy Dee Williams (x3), Lee Wallace, Tracey Walter (x3), Jack Palance, Jerry Hall, William Hootkins (x2), Garrick Hagon (x3)

One of the main reasons I started heavy-duty list making in the first place, Tim Burton’s Batman was everything to me in 1989. Remember, this was the halcyon summer of the third Indiana Jones and the second Ghostbusters and… Honey I Shrunk the Kids, so nine-year-old Joe had plenty to look forward to after the hectic slog of fourth grade. And while I enjoyed all of those (yes, even Ghostbusters II), none had the impact of the Caped Crusader facing off with the Joker on the big screen. I can’t overstate how important this movie was in the entire formation of my interests for years to come.

Seriously, is it possible we all have it wrong on GBII? I haven’t seen it in forever, but it’s not really all that bad, right? I mean, it’s not Caddyshack II, is it?

And I didn’t like this movie in a cool way – I wasn’t some detached fan who viewed it in secret and mentioned it sporadically if it happened to come up. Ten-year-old me was a giant dork about this movie, badgering all my grade school pals with Batman shit and watching it endlessly at the house. Before it was available on VHS, I read the novelization by (I still remember) Craig Shaw Gardner multiple times. I had the Prince soundtrack and the Danny Elfman score on tapes. I had no fewer than three posters from this movie in my bedroom. It was straight up disgusting, how into this movie I was. Oh, is your big takeaway 380+ movies into this list that I wasn’t a cool kid? Huge surprise, I know! I’m not putting up much of an argument for being a cool adult, either! Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #26 – My Favorite False Teeth

Today! Because this is the one. This is the one I’ll be remembered for –

Ed Wood (1994)

Directed by Tim Burton (x5)

Starring Johnny Depp (x2), Martin Landau (x2), Patricia Arquette, Sarah Jessica Parker (x2), Bill Murray (x10), Jeffrey Jones (x5), Mike Starr (x2), George “The Animal” Steele, Vincent D’Onofrio (x5), Lisa Marie (x2), G.D. Spradlin (x2), Max Casella (x2), Brent Hinkley (x2), Juliet Landau, Melora Walters (x2), Bobby Slayton (x2), Rance Howard (x4), Louis Lombardi (x3), Ned Bellamy

The wife might disagree, but I don’t love all bad movies. Here’s how I figure it – if a movie has exceptionally terrible reviews – your Glitters and Battlefield Earths and Freddy Got Fingereds – I want to see that movie, just to try and understand how it could go so spectacularly wrong. The bigger the movie the better, too, such as, say, the 2015 Fantastic Four. I went and saw that in a mostly empty theater by myself, because I had to see how a potential tentpole/franchise flick could be so purportedly awful. Low budget awful, for the most part, doesn’t interest me. Anyone can make a horrible film given no resources. And mid-range bad also doesn’t hold a ton of appeal – 35%-55% Rotten Tomatoes – who cares? That just sounds boring.

Might be just bad enough to see, but I’d say not

But there are exceptions to this. Tommy Wiseau’s borderline genius disaster of a film The Room is the modern gold standard, clearly standing on the shoulders of the true champion trash auteur, Edward D. Wood, Jr. Plan 9 From Outer Space is so cheap and terrible as to be a thoroughly lovable film. Who doesn’t enjoy Plan 9, for all its cinematic faults? And that brings us to the truly best result of its existence – Tim Burton’s masterpiece biopic. If Wood had only made Glen or Glenda and Jail Bait and Bride of the Monster, his name might still get kicked around in nerdy film circles, but it’s Plan 9 that elevated him to worldwide acclaim – way, way after the fact. And it’s only because it became so embraced as the worst movie of all time that we got this goofy, sentimental movie about movies – my second favorite film in the mini-genre I love so much (next Monday crowns my top movie from this group – stay tuned!).

Wood dying before our time, here is the happy couple with the next best dude

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #122 – My Favorite Harry Belafonte Musical

Today! Because I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that –

Beetlejuice (1988)

Directed by Tim Burton (x4)

Starring Alec Baldwin (x2), Geena Davis (x2), Michael Keaton (x8), Winona Ryder (x2), Catherine O’Hara (x4), Jeffrey Jones (x3), Sylvia Sidney (x2), Glenn Shadix (x3), Robert Goulet (x3), Dick Cavett, Susan Kellerman, Adelle Lutz, Tony Cox (x3)

What I’m always surprised by when watching Beetlejuice nowadays is how long it takes to get to Beetlejuice himself. Like, it’s nearly an hour into things when he finally shows up, and how much of the movie is he even in? Like twenty minutes? Did the cartoon really warp memories of this movie so much that I think of the film as the Beetle-and-Lydia show, even though they share no happy times together?

One of the oldest ticket stubs I have (I’ve got basically every movie stub since ’87, fools!), Beetlejuice thrilled nine-year-old me to no end. I doubt I knew at the time that this was the director of another young Joe favorite, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, and certainly wasn’t aware that this creative team was deep in pre-production making the transformative movie of my young life – Batman. Allegedly, it was Beetlejuice‘s box office success that got Burton’s Batman greenlit for definite, after years of it bouncing between screenwriters and directors. So thanks, Ghost with the Most!

Our hero!

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #205 – My Favorite Microwaved Spray Paint

Today! Because mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it –

Batman Returns (1992)

Directed by Tim Burton (x3)

Starring Michael Keaton (x3), Michelle Pfeiffer, Danny DeVito (x4), Christopher Walken, Michael Gough (x2), Michael Murphy (x4), Pat Hingle (x2), Vincent Schiavelli (x4), Andrew Bryniarski, Jan Hooks (x2), Steve Witting, Paul Reubens (x3), Cristi Conaway

A superhero outing aggressively not holding up, Batman Returns was basically my favorite movie when I was 12 years old. I’d been waiting three years for the next Bat-adventure, and where this manner of suspense might raise expectations far higher than a film could reach nowadays, back then it just functioned as a way to excuse a lot of their choices. We finally had another Keaton/Burton Bat-flick! And it had the Penguin! And Catwoman! And…Christopher Walken in a ridiculous wig!

And style-wise, it’s still a pretty cool movie. Between the Christmas setting, the weirder, twistier sets than the first movie, Michelle Pfeiffer’s super dramatic eye makeup, and a marked increase in the Tim Burton-ness of the design, it’s a sequel that takes off in bizarre other directions, while still maintaining the overall gloom and moodiness set in place by the original.

Maybe it’s not so much the make up as all the time spent on that hair!

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #310 – My Favorite Weaponized Slim Whitman Tune

Today! Because if the Martians land, they’re going to need a place to stay, just like everybody else –

Mars Attacks! (1996)

Directed by Tim Burton

Starring Jack Nicholson (x2), Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito (x2), Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox (x2), Martin Short, Rod Steiger, Lukas Haas, Tom Jones, Jim Brown, Natalie Portman (x3), Lisa Marie, Sylvia Sidney, Pam Grier, Paul Winfield, Jack Black (x3), Joe Don Baker (x2), Ray J, Christina Applegate, Barbet Schroeder (x2), Willie Garson (x2), Rance Howard (x3), O-Lan Jones, Brian Haley

I know some people were really turned off by Tim Burton’s trading card adaptation global invasion sci-fi comedy, but I really dug it in that epic winter of 1996. Ah, ’96! This is already the sixth movie from that landmark, okay-ish year for films! Coming a few months after Independence Day, I guess everyone really wanted a wild action comedy of international destruction, but Tim Burton is not that director. He can give you quirky odd-ballery, but as for fight scenes or action sequences, well, look at that track record. His Batman movies are far more mood and atmosphere than slam-bang thrills. Sleepy Hollow – better, I guess, what with Ray Park as the Headless Horseman, but the staging didn’t vastly improve. Planet of the Apes – come on. So really, anyone wanting more out of Mars Attacks! was probably kidding themselves a bit too much.

What you get is a pretty fun, funny, throwback spoof of cheesy alien flicks, which quickly devolves into a cheesy alien flick itself, blurring that parody line until it basically disappears. I was really amped for this film come my senior year of high school – figure, you’ve got Nicholson playing wacky duel roles, in a roundabout nod to Dr. Strangelove’s end-of-the-world grapplings, as the president and a huckster casino owner, plus it reunited him with his Batman director, never mind the all-star cast reminiscent of ’70s disaster films, including a James Bond, a Teen Wolf, Foxy Brown, Ed Grimley, and the Penguin.

Never mind Carrie Bradshaw’s terrific work as this dog

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #371 – My Favorite Swimming Pool Bathtub Brawl

Today! Because I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel –

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Directed by Tim Burton

Starring Paul Reubens (x2), Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton, Diane Salinger, Judd Omen, Alice Nunn, Jan Hooks, Jason Hervey, Cassandra Peterson, Phil Hartman, James Brolin, Morgan Fairchild, Milton Berle

Look, no one is more surprised than me that Pee-wee’s first big screen outing is still hanging around my favorite films list 30-some-odd years on, but here we are. I know there’s a certain section of the fandom that is still all-in on this movie, and would’ve proudly put it higher, but I’m a touch embarrassed. Me, someone who stuck Godspell ahead of 14 films on this list.

But why should I be embarrassed? Sure, Pee-wee objectively is kinda juvenile nonsense, but this movie so far transcended everything else connected to the character (except maybe the original brilliant stage show) that it only really fits the canon in that Pee-wee is the protagonist. This was Tim Burton at his hyper-inventive best! Surreal! Bizarre! Wonderfully inventive! His bicycle alone is an ingenious creation that drives the entire plot, from bizarro inventor’s house to the Alamo to the big screen. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #379 – My Favorite Self Lobotomy

Today! Because you aren’t comprehending the position that you’re in –

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Directed by Henry Selick

Starring Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Paul Reubens, Ken Page, Edward Ivory, Greg Proops

As the years have gone by, The Nightmare Before Christmas has become more and more a vehicle to sell tie-in merchandise. Disney’s not one to let these sort of opportunities slide, so even though it was fairly successful in its initial release, it quickly morphed into something very different. And it’s nice that this movie found an audience – it is a terrific piece of ghoulish fun – but I do think the movie itself tends to get a bit lost in all the Halloween costumes, figurines, and whatnot. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies