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The World of Myth Movie Reviews


Movie Review

Hello everyone, this is Balcony Betty. I’m here once again to offer my insight into a handful of movies; one new movie, a couple of older favorites of mine, and as a little bit of a change, I will be reviewing one of this season’s new Warner Brothers television series.

This month I went to see the newest Tim Burton stop-action animation film, “Corpse Bride.” “Corpse Bride” is the latest in a long line of collaborations between Burton, Johnny Depp and composer Danny Elfman. This movie chronicles two days in the life of Victor Van Dort, voiced by Depp. After a horrendous wedding rehearsal, Victor escapes to a cemetery in the woods to practice his vows and inadvertently becomes wed to a corpse bride. Helena Bonham Carter’s “Corpse Bride”, is literally falling apart, from the skin that has peeled away from her leg bones—pooling at her ankle like an old sock—to the eye that constantly falls out, allowing the appearance of a wise-cracking worm that lives in her skull. During their short marriage, Victor begins to care for Emily (the corpse bride) and is torn between her and the living Victoria Everglot, who he was to marry. By the end of the movie, all wrongs have been set right and good over comes evil. Although this movie is not as good as “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and children will not understand a lot of the jokes, “Corpse Bride” is still a good movie and deserves two and a half howls of pleasure . When you go see this movie, please pay attention to the front man of the skeleton band, as Bonejangles is voiced by Oingo Boingo member and movie score composer, Danny Elfman.

After seeing “Corpse Bride” and reviewing it, I decided to review two of my favorite Tim Burton films. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” deals with the disenchanted pumpkin king of Halloween, Jack Skellington, and how, after attempting to take over Christmas from Santa Claus, he finally learns who he is and what he should be doing with his afterlife. He does not come to this conclusion on his own; it takes a Frankenstein-esque creation named Sally (voiced by Catherine O’Hara, who was in Burton’s film “Beetle Juice”) and his ever-faithful ghost dog Zero to help Jack find his way and fix Christmas. “Nightmare” is full of jokes and is enjoyable for children of all ages. I give it three howls of pleasure . As a little note, in addition to composing the movie score, Danny Elfman is also the singing voice of Jack Skellington.

“Beetle Juice” stars Michael Keaton as the title character and deals with the Maitland’s adjustment to life after death. In the movie, Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) are displeased with the family that moves into their home and try, unsuccessfully, to haunt them into vacating the premises. After their failure, they enlist the assistance of a bio-exorcist named Beetle Juice, a spirit who specializes in the exorcism of living people from the homes of the deceased. Michael Keaton is hilarious as the wise-cracking spook, and his style of comedy allows even some of the drier jokes to seem funny. I give “Beetle Juice” three howls of pleasure and suggest that if you haven’t seen it yet, you do so soon.

This season has been a bit of a disappointment in regards to new television series. One of the new shows that I take the time to watch every week is the WB’s “Supernatural.” The show airs Tuesday nights at 9 pm (Eastern and Pacific). “Supernatural” chronicles the adventures of two adult brothers as they travel the country searching for their missing father. You may be asking yourself, what could possibly be interesting about two twenty-something guys driving around the Untied States. Well their adventures are not of the typical road trip variety. Instead they involve various supernatural occurrences and the brothers battle to vanquish the evil entity plaguing whatever town they happen to be in at the time. Most episodes are based on different urban legends and old folk stories. During the pilot, brothers Dean and Sam Winchester (Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki ) combated a “Woman in White,” hell bent on revenge against adulterous men. In another episode, they fought a vengeful “Bloody Mary” in all of her gruesome glory (although ‘Mary’ did resemble the zombie-like girl in the video in “The Ring”). Some of the other ghouly ghouls they fight against are the ‘Wendigo’, the legendary ‘Hook Man,’ complete with the message, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light,” scratched into the wall with blood oozing from the letters, a shape-shifter, and a phantom traveler. I will continue to tune in and sincerely hope that the WB will renew “Supernatural” for next season. As it gives me a weekly fix of goose-flesh and startles, I give this series 4 howls of pleasure .

Hey, gang, it's Reaper Rick. To continue with Betty's dissection of Tim Burton films, and to add to my previous reviews of movies in which Vincent Price appeared, I decided to look back at one of Burton's early efforts. "Edward Scissorhands" has been touted as an unusual (and which Burton film is 'not' unusual?) fairy tale, but if examined carefully, it is much more than that.

Released in 1990, this film starred Johnny Depp as Edward, Winona Ryder, Alan Arkin and Vincent Price. I have seen this movie many times, but never really 'saw' it until just a few days ago. Looking at it with a critical eye, rather than just as entertainment, I discovered some things I never noticed before.

Burton is, of course, a master of movie making and even though this was an early effort, with this film he showed signs of the genius that would emerge. A fairy tale? Perhaps on the surface, but beneath the ongoing exposure of pastel colors in the village below the dark castle on the hill, there was much more to see. I didn't realize until I viewed the movie recently, but this was actually a subtle remake of the classic film, 'Frankenstein.'

Price played an aged 'inventor' who lived a lonely life in a castle, and spent his time making mechanical gadgets (one of which looked remarkably like a metal Jack Skellington). To ease his lonely life, he decided to make himself a companion; a mechanical boy, who while looking human, was apparently ageless. Unfortunately, Price dies before he can finish his project and Edward is left with a combination of scissors for hands. This creation is basically helpless, but is left on his own for years before being discovered and brought 'down' to the village by a naive, but good hearted Avon lady.

Initially, Edward is viewed as a curiosity; a freak. The villagers soon discover that he is quite talented at forming topiary with his 'hands,'as well as being an excellent barber (for both people and their pets!). He is soon highly sought after and everyone wants to be associated with him, because of his unique capabilities, which they long to be a part of. A love interest develops between Depp and Ryder, although her ignorant and brutish boyfriend (Anthony Michael Hall) attempts to thwart the budding romance at every turn.

Eventually, when the villagers learn that they cannot corrupt Edward and turn him into what they themselves are, they naturally turn on him and want him destroyed, because of his unique capabilities, which they cannot be a part of. Typically, the human response to something they can not understand is to destroy it, because if it is not as they are, then it must not be allowed to survive.

Toward the end of the movie, Ryder is dressed all in white--the untouchable virgin--while Depp reverts to his sinister black leather outfit, with glittering, deadly weapons for hands--a classic good vs. evil scenario. Mass hysteria grips the village and a mob ascends to the castle on the hill, demanding death for this 'Monster.' The jilted boyfriend attacks both Ryder and Depp, and in a shocking moment, Depp turns on the boyfriend and stabs him, sending him plunging to his death from a high window. The mob arrives to find the young man dead, but Ryder appears (her pristine white dress now tarnished with blood--her virginity compromised) and protects her hero, claiming the monster has also died. Chastised by a scene of actual destruction and death, the mob slinks back to their hovels and Ryder returns to her home, never to see Edward again.

But, Love remains, and as Ryder's character grows old, with only her memories to cherish, Edward continues to live on, unaging, at the castle, creating ice sculptures of his beloved, the shavings raining down upon the village as fallen snow.

So, "Edward Scissorhands" is a dark fairy tale, combined with undertones of sinister monsters and human frailties. It is also a love story, but about a love that can never be consummated, which can never be truly realized. Over all, I give this film Three Howls of Pleasure . See it again, but look beyond the visual and seek the subtle, hidden messages. All of Tim Burton's films have them.

On a side note, this movie was Vincent Price's last screen appearance, and in the scene where he dies in the movie, Price actually fainted during filming, but Burton left it uncut, feeling it gave the scene more authenticity. Filmed in Florida, during a long outdoor scene when Depp is running away to return to his castle, he also fainted, due to heat stroke, because of the tight leather outfit he was wearing.

Well, that's it from me this month. Get out there and watch some flicks and let us know what you think about them. Until next time....



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