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Looking Back: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

My father taught a class on Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” and his notes, handouts and worksheets provided me with my initial education on the novel. So did the terrifying and gorgeous illustrations by Greg Hildebrandt, whose work for the 1985 The Unicorn Publishing House edition is forever etched into my imagination. On film, my first Dracula was Frank Langella, who played …

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Looking Back: Metro (1997)

Eddie Murphy was celebrating a serious victory lap when his 1997 vehicle, “Metro,” opened nationwide. After years of films that either under-performed, left his enormous fan base unhappy or deemed him no longer in his element, he made a big comeback with the 1996  “The Nutty Professor.” Over a decade into his film career, Murphy’s multiple performances in, of all …

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Looking Back: TMNT (2007)

Of all things, the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” has emerged as one of the most definitively American of comic book heroes. The blend of surfer dude personas, a constant diet of pizza, a passion for martial arts and the spectacle of giant, talking turtles plays simultaneously like a spoof and celebration of American pop culture. The Turtles, with their vigilante …

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Looking Back: Ferngully- The Last Rainforest (1992)

Bill Kroyer’s 1992 animated feature, “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest,” feels like a direct response to the horrific 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. This occurrence, in which 10.8 million gallons of oil was spilled into Alaskan wild life, stands as one of the greatest environmental disasters on record. Images of surviving wild life drenched in black goo or the wild life …

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Looking Back: The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (1992)

In the similar manner that Peyton Flanders sneaks up on the Bartel family, “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle” crept up on moviegoers in early 1992 and firmly insinuated itself into pop culture. How under the radar was this movie? Hollywood Pictures (the Disney label that, like Touchstone Pictures, was intended to distribute adult minded movies) had a national sneak …

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Looking Back: 1408 (2007)

Prior to this summer’s Stephen King Movie Renaissance, with the release of Nikolaj Arcel’s “The Dark Tower” and Andy Muschietti’s “It,” the last time we got a major summer movie based on a King novel was ten years ago, with Mikael Hafstrom’s “1408.” What began as a you-finish-the-tale writing sample from King’s  non-fiction/partly instructional “On Writing” led to King completing …

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Looking Back: Red Dragon (2002)

Must cinephiles have to choose between Michael Mann’s “Manhunter” (1986) and Brett Ratner’s “Red Dragon” (2002)? The comparisons between the films are inevitable but not entirely fair. When Mann adapted Thomas Harris’ (?year?) “Red Dragon,” he created a mean, propulsive and visually rich work that felt like an extension of his TV creation, “Miami Vice.” “Manhunter” stars William Peterson as …

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Looking Back: Mr. Brooks (2007)

In the odd, pulpy “Mr. Brooks,” Kevin Costner plays the title character, the wealthy owner of a company that makes boxes. Apparently, the boxes are quite good, because his office building is fairly spectacular. Brooks has an adoring wife (played by Marg Helgenberger) and a delightful daughter (played by Danielle Panabaker) who is beginning her college career. He seems to …

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Looking Back: Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers (1992)

Early on “Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers,” Tanya Robertson, the lovely protagonist played by Madchen Amick, is seen working at a movie theater in her small town. The fake titles of the movies being shown are “They Bite” (which would have been a better title for this movie) and “Scream Dreams.” This is a telling detail. Those movies would likely play well …

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Looking Back: Evil Dead II (1987)

Sam Raimi’s sequel to his breakout hit, “The Evil Dead” (1983), is a return to form after the failure of his “Crimewave,” a black comedy Coen Brothers collaboration that was released with crippling, producer-mandated edits and creative alterations. Perhaps, if “Crimewave” had succeeded, Raimi would have moved beyond his tale of bad things happening in a cabin deep in the …

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