Horrormeister Wes Craven, who unleashed Freddy on Earth, checks in with the modestly titled "Wes Craven's New Nightmare," in which Freddy returns to molest the stars of the first movie. I like that idea. "Exit to Eden" gives Dana Delany a chance to show off her body in a film about S&M practices, while Dan Aykroyd is the cop who wants to bust her. Finally, the Charles shows the latest Lina Wertmuller film, "Ciao, Professore," about a northern Italian who takes a job teaching in an elementary school in southern Italy -- and, in Italy, the differences between north and south are greater than they are here.
On Oct. 21, Hollywood really goes nuts. Movies everywhere! To begin with, "Hoop Dreams," a documentary about four Chicago kids hoping to make it off the playgrounds and onto somebody's college floor and thence into the NBA is finally released. This film, in a much longer version, wowed 'em at the Sundance Film Festival last year. It's reportedly been cut to two hours from an original that ran nearly five.
Then the classic Robert A. Heinlein novel of 1951, "The Puppet Masters," gets a '90s update with Donald Sutherland and Eric Thal. The piece bears a thematic resemblance -- pod people taking over -- to "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," but Heinlein's came first. "I Like It Like That" recapitulates filmmaker Darnell Martin's growing up in a Puerto Rican neighborhood of Brooklyn. It's said to be a family comedy-drama from a woman's point of view. Then there's "Pontiac Moon," in which, once more, Ted Danson attempts to become a movie star. Another comedy-drama, this one is set in the late '60s, with Danson as a disturbed father who sets off to find his destiny with his son when his marriage collapses. Mary Steenburgen plays the wife who hunts him down.
"Trapped in Paradise," which some national magazines are calling by its old title, "Welcome to Paradise," is another in the can-these-TV-guys-carry-a-movie sweepstakes, with stars Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz. Real movie star Nicolas Cage is along for the ride; the three are brother bank robbers overwhelmed by the sheer friendliness of a Pennsylvania town. "Radioland Murders," like more than a few films before it, sets a series of killings against the razzle-dazzle of big-time network radio in the '30s. The stars are not big -- Brian Benben and Mary Stuart Masterson -- but the producer is: George Lucas of "Star Wars" fame.
All these sound like nice little movies, no? But there's a big one, too: "Love Affair," with America's fun couple, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, re-creating the roles that Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr made famous in Leo McCarey's "An Affair to Remember," that nuclear-powered weepie that was already "re-created" in Nora Ephron's "Sleepless in Seattle."
The Eastern Shore gets a rare movie boost on Oct. 28, when "Silent Fall," which was filmed there last year, opens. With Richard Dreyfuss as a child psychologist of one school and John Lithgow as a child psychologist of another, it's about clashing theories of the head. Bruce Beresford directs, and Eastern Shore native Linda Hamilton (of "Terminator" fame) co-stars. Who says you can't go home again? No one told her. That same day, Disney has a version of the childhood classic "Squanto: A Warrior's Tale."
"The DROP Squad," produced by Spike Lee and directed by David Johnson, also opens. In it, an African-American team de-programs a black ad exec who's forgotten where he's from. Then there's "The Road to Wellville," from the extremely irritating but sublimely talented Alan Parker ("Shoot the Moon," "Mississippi Burning"), which is based on a comic novel by T. Coraghessan Boyle. It's hard to get a fix on this one: It seems to have to do with zany corn-flakes millionaire John Kellogg's trying to convince people that the road to health detoured through enema city. Then there's "StarGate," a sci-fi deal with Kurt Russell and James Spader -- yes, but shouldn't a $55 million movie have some stars? Rumor has it that some pyramids get built during the story. Finally, "Imaginary Crimes" features Harvey Keitel as a con man trying to make do with the two daughters he inherits after his ex-wife's death.
November hulks in on the 4th on the clumpy-clumpy feet of the one, the original, Frankenstein. In line with last year's "Bram Stoker's Dracula," this one is "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein," as directed by and starring (as Herr Doktor) Kenneth Branagh (he should be doing his movie "Hamlet" before he gets too old!), and no less a figure than Robert De Niro as the bolt-necked big guy himself. With Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. F.'s best gal, expect it to be very literary -- probably not too many severed heads. That same day, one of the slowest in the season, the chop-socky film version of a video game called "Double Dragon" opens.