THE FRIGHTENERS
1996, Universal, 110 min, New Zealand/USA, Dir: Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson’s follow-up to the acclaimed HEAVENLY CREATURES was this unusual mix of horror and dark comedy. Michael J. Fox stars as architect Frank Bannister, who gains the ability to see spirits after his wife’s death in an accident. At first Bannister exploits this power to set up a ghostbusting business - until he crosses paths with a dead serial killer who is still looking for victims. Shot in New Zealand (which a chunk of the film’s sizable digital effects budget turned into Middle America), the film earned eight Saturn Award nominations and features a score by Danny Elfman.


PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE
1985, Warner Bros., 90 min, USA, Dir: Tim Burton

The ’80s were precarious. If you weren’t careful you could be forced to feel sorry for the yuppie ratsticks in WALL STREET or find yourself actually rooting for egomaniacal Jerry Lewis to free himself in KING OF COMEDY. But the decade triumphantly launched PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, the movie that lionizes the 90-pound weakling and propelled Tim Burton and Danny Elfman into the goth cinematic darkosphere. Part caper, part road movie, PEE-WEE is an homage inside a tour-de-france with every kitsch genre mined to full potential. It's the story of a lovable weirdling (Paul Reubens) who lives alone with just his beloved bicycle. When the bike is stolen, Pee Dub rightly suspects his bratty neighbor Francis (Mark Holton), but Francis has paid a thug to ditch the bike and the chase is on all the way to the basement of the Alamo. Drunken bikers, a ghostly lady trucker and Godzilla all show up with madcap consequences. '80S WARNING: This movie contains James Brolin being ironically hilarious. No one will be seated during Twisted Sister.


BIG EYES
2014, The Weinstein Company, 106 min, USA, Dir: Tim Burton

Director Tim Burton reteams with ED WOOD screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski for an insightful look at another outsider artist. Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) painted portraits of children with huge, doleful eyes that became famous in the 1960s – after her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) attached his name to the works and mass-marketed them. Jason Schwartzman, Krysten Ritter and Terence Stamp costar in this colorful portrait of a woman not content to stand silently behind her man.


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