Tag Archives: Winona Ryder

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!

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The Set of 400: #350 – My Favorite Razor Licking

Today! Because I have crossed oceans of time to find you –

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Starring Gary Oldman (x2), Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Cary Elwes (x3), Richard E. Grant, Sadie Frost, Tom Waits, Monica Bellucci, Billy Campbell

As I think I’ve mentioned before, 1992 was basically the year I realized good movies existed. I enjoyed movies before then – and some turned out to remain decent afterward – but for whatever reason, I turn 13 and all of a sudden I’m looking for a different level of quality and artistic merit in my entertainments. All this after Batman Returns, though, so let’s keep my 1992 in perspective. I still didn’t really know what good was, I just now had a more serious pursuit of it. And one of the movies that had a definite impact on this quest was Coppola’s wildly over-directed Dracula.

Without much risk, I can definitively state that this was Coppola’s last even remotely good movie. Not that he’s been cranking them out – only five true features over the last 27 years – but it was as though this film took every last thing out of him. And it’s all on the screen – the frenetic editing, the sheets of blood, Anthony Hopkins going completely ape-shit, Keanu Reeves acting – it’s mayhem. Artistic mayhem, sure, but still so chaotic that just imagine if this was your whole exposure to the Dracula character. Like, no Bela Lugosi, no Christopher Lee, just this – how would this character have ever become popular? He’s this age-swapping, hyper-passionate monster who can’t pick a hairdo and go with it?

Seriously, what the hell was this about?

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