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2013 RONDO AWARD
So just what is a Turkey Day Marathon? Back in the early ‘90s, when Mystery Science Theater was still on and Joel Robinson was still onboard the Satellite of Love, Comedy Central would have something on the day after Thanksgiving calling it the Turkey Day Marathon, which would consist of 24 hours of MST3K. Not sure how many years they did it, but I knew I was in front of the TV for it as much as I could.
About a decade later, in 2003, I decided that I was going to something very similar to that. To celebrate all those cinematic shipwrecks, I was going to spend the Friday after Thanksgiving in front of my TV, assaulting my eyes with some of the best in bad cinema. How tough could it be? As much as I tried to get volunteers to join me on this insane escapade, no one was daring enough to do it. So I would have to go it alone. At least for the time being.
Now over the years, the definition of a “bad movie” or what we view during this event can always be debated. Yes, there are a lot of these titles that I would consider “great” films. Okay…maybe not great or well made, but they’re damn entertaining. And after all, that is what a movie is supposed to do, right? Of course, there are a few that are like having your toenails pulled out…very slowly. But that’s what we’re here for. Jumping on that grenade. Taking one for the team. We’re professional, so we know what we're doing here.
I had mentioned my little marathons on the site during that time of the year, but never thought much about it. But realizing how long I’ve been doing it, and that I started taking notes of the films watched, I thought it might be a good idea to make a journal page on the site to review all of the fun and terrible places we’ve journeyed through over the years. We will cover each film that we’ve watched during that year’s epic event. Feel free to steal some of these titles to hold your own mind-numbing marathon. But just remember….to steal a quote from the opening of James Whale’s FRANKENSTEIN, “Well…we’ve warned you!”
I don’t remember which films I watched that first time, but I know it damn near killed me. I didn’t start a list at that time, or if I did start, by the time I was done, I don’t think I was able to function much of anything outside of a stumble and a few grunts. Watching a bad film can be fun, especially if done with a group of friends. But watching several bad films, on your own, is something that I wouldn’t advise except to those only with a strong will and iron stomach. It has been known to crush the will and desire of the weak minded. After this first experiment, I think it was several weeks before I attempted to watch another movie.
This year again, I were still on my own. But I ventured on, determined that this punishment could only make me stronger. I had our films lined up for the day and were ready to take on whatever horrors await. So I strapped myself in and started the marathon!
BLOOD FREAK (1972) - I wanted to start the marathon off with the ultimate of Turkey Day movies, and this was definitely it. This film was actually commissioned by a religious group to show the dangers of drug use and wanton sex. Steve Hawkes stars in the film that he also co-wrote and co-directed with Brad F. Grinter. Hawkes plays Herschell, an out-of-work vet looking for a job and a place to crash. He stops by the road to help a girl with car trouble. For his help, he is invited back to her home. Her sister just happens to be having a swinging drug party, but that doesn't put her off as she sits and reads gospel from the Bible. Herschell doesn't want to partake since he's trying to impress this girl. But it gets even stranger. Herschell gets a job at a turkey farm and volunteers for a little experiment. He has to eat a turkey that has some laced with a experimental drug to see if it has any side effects. Well, after eating the entire turkey, he turns into a turkey-headed monster that craves blood. The guy basically has a turkey head mask on, with big bulging eyes.It has to be seen to be believed. And even then, it's hard to believe that someone gave the thumbs up once the mask was put on.
But what makes the film even more enjoyable is that Grinter breaks into the film every now and then to give small lectures on what is happening in the film, emphasizing the evils of drug use and putting harmful chemicals into your body. All the while, he’s chain smoking cigarettes! Even to the point where he starts coughing so much you think he’s going to cough up a lung! This film is one that really epitomizes what a turkey of a movie is, both literally and figuratively. It was released on DVD by Image Entertainment, so if you haven’t had this pleasure, add it to your list. It will be one that you will never forget, but will be forcing it onto your friends so they can partake in this feast.
NIGHT OF THE LEPUS (1972) - Next film up had to be one of the best ideas for a giant animal movie ever conceived. Honestly, who would ever think that making a movie about giant killer rabbits could ever be a great idea? I mean really…outside of a Monty Python movie, how could a rabbit ever be threatening? Maybe if they were the size of a large Winnebago? Aahhhhh….no. I would have liked to have been at that pitch meeting when the guy threw this idea out on the table. “How about giant killer rabbits?” “I LOVE IT! LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN!” It could have happened. The movie DID get made after all. And not only did it get made, but it also starred Janet Leigh, Stuart Whitman, Rory Calhoun, and even Star Treks’ DeForest Kelly! For some reason on all the posters, the never really let on what terror was about, even using the Latin word lepus instead of rabbit. Obviously they knew if they let people know it was about killer rabbits, no one would come.
The film is as just silly as one would think. These rabbits are placed on scale models, with some red paint rubbed on their mouths. Even the slow motion scenes with them thumping their way through the desert just can’t bring any sort of terror. But there is some scenes that I found pretty disturbing, and that was some real life footage of some ranchers trying to get the rabbit overpopulation under control. Some of the measures being used back then probably would have PETA giving them more than a stern look.
THE GIANT CLAW (1957) - Our 3rd feature was one that I had been trying to find ever since seeing a clip of it in the film IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD (1982), which showed a titular beast attacking a plane and eventually eating the parachuting passengers. Not only is the creature basically a marionette, but has one of the goofiest looking heads (next to the turkey monster from BLOOD FREAK). The main actor, Jeff Morrow, had said in an interview that neither he, nor anybody else in the cast, had seen the monster before the premiere. Of course, every time the creature made an appearance on the screen, the audience roared with laughter. One can only imagine the terror they felt during that premiere, as any hope of furthering their career slowing going down the toilet.
That’s one of the beauties of a film like this. Everyone involved (except maybe the special effects guys) gave their 110% to the job, with such conviction and seriousness. Everything is played completely straight. Like they were making their own CITIZEN KANE. It is what makes these kind of films so enjoyable an so different from the "bad films" of today. These guys were really trying their hardest to make a good film. Then when we finally see this dreaded creature that they lead us all up to with such hype and anxiety, if you think you’re “you gotta be shitting me” look is something, just imagine those actors at the premiere.
THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIX-UP ZOMBIES (1964) - This next film we tackled (or more like tackled us) has a reputation from the name alone. It is. To say that watching this Ray Dennis Steckler film, by yourself, is an endurance test is like saying that New Orleans had a slight water problem after hurricane Katrina. The movie wasn’t even half over yet and I was already questioning my faith in humanity. Steckler was known for getting bored very quickly once he started making a movie. This means that it wasn’t uncommon for him to change what the movie is about, or even the kind of movie it was, half way into it. This film features some Vegas style dance numbers that actually just might lower your IQ. But then there’s some the scene at the carnival with our main actor Cash Flagg (aka Steckler himself) riding around on the roller coasters with his girlfriend. Words simply cannot describe this movie. You will be scratching your head several times while watching this film. The reputation it has is there for a reason. Proceed with caution if you’re thinking of attempting this movie. Don’t do it alone.
THE DEADLY SPAWN (1983) - So as not to leave this experiment-gone-horribly-wrong on a negative note, I decided to go with one more film, but one that I would definitely not consider a turkey. I had to get some enjoyment out of this. Think of it as the piece of pumpkin pie after the big Thanksgiving Day meal. You really shouldn’t, but you want to end the event on a good note. And we did just that with Doug McKeown’s one and only feature film. Even though the film is a low budget independent project, there were enough talented people involved which turned out one of the best and goriest monster movies in the early ‘80s.
The film is about an alien creature that lands on earth one night and starts to eat its way onto world domination. This alien is basically a bunch of mouths with teeth. A lot of teeth. I mean, A LOT of teeth. There is a party full of old ladies getting attacked by little creatures that is very hard to forget. The work that John Dods did by creating this amazing creature should put him in Monster Maker’s Hall of Fame somewhere. Such a unique design, made on a super low budget, added in with all the gore, it makes this movie extremely enjoyable and a great time, not to mention a really good film.
So in closing, I did hold up pretty well. I got through 5 highly entertainingly bad movies that were a lot of fun. Sure, the Steckler movie damn near killed me, but I was able to struggle through it and thankfully DEADLY SPAWN helped us recover some of my lost brain cells. So 5 movies in one day, and another Turkey-Day Marathon comes to a close.
For this marathon, I was not going to have to make this journey alone. I found a sucker…I mean, a fellow movie fan that had the guts to put his love of bad movies to the test. Dr. AC (aka Aaron Christensen) joined me that faithful day to for another festival of B-movies and other such wonders. Though, he must have been pretty trusting of me since we’d only met a few months earlier. Little did he know of the horrors that I was going to put him through....(cue devilish laugh here) heheheh.
BLOOD FREAK (1972) - Yes, we did watch this film last year. And since this was AC's first Turkey Day experience, I didn’t want to give him a full frontal assault right away. But I felt that since he had never witnessed BLOOD FREAK before, that we’d have to make that the first film. Sort of breaking him in. Or breaking him down. Not sure which. And even I had watched it last year, watching this movie with a new viewer is almost as fun as watching the film itself for the first time. The look on their faces is always a riot. When the turkey monster first makes its appearance, and they look over at you with this "Are you fucking kidding me?" look....priceless.
LADY TERMINATOR (1988) - For the next film, we traveled to Indonesia for a film that some say might be a slight rip-off of James Cameron’s TERMINATOR. And they would be correct. Very much so. But that’s beside the point. While there are few sequences directly lifted from that Cameron movie, there is plenty of other stuff that will have you cheering for more. Hard to describe this movie other than a woman, played by the beautiful Barbara Anne Constable (in her one and only role) becomes possessed by the South Sea Queen after a snake crawls up into her while in bed. Now in control, she sets out to kill another young woman, a descent of a man who scorned her 100 years earlier.
If the wild action, lots of guns, explosions, bad hair, and this unstoppable killing machine doesn't get you, then the dialog alone is worth your time. After sating her passion on some un-suspecting males, by leaving them a little less than men, the police discover their remains. One cop reads "It says here all three guys died with their cocks bitten off. It could be a small animal." Classic stuff here, folks. You won't find dialog this classic in any film coming from Hollywood. Well...actually you probably would.
If you’ve never experienced films from some of the smaller foreign markets, like Indonesia, India, or the Philippines, you are missing out on some highly original (even though they are ripping off Hollywood) and innovative films. They are always coming up with something that will have you asking if yourself “Did I just see what I thought I saw?”
ALLIGATOR (1980) - Directed by Lewis Teague, I don't think I would have considered this film really a "turkey". It's sequel, ALLIGATOR 2: THE MUTATION...now that's a turkey movie, but maybe we'll get to that another day. But back to the first one. Sure, it is a B-movie at its finest, and has all the trappings of one, like a JAWS inspired plot, except he has feet now. A girl is forced to flush her baby alligator down the toilet by her father, but it doesn't die. Thanks to the carcasses of animals disposed in the sewers that were being tested with a growth hormone, it grows and grows. And grows. So when you think about a giant alligator living in the sewer of Chicago, it does have all the elements of a cheese-fest. But the film is actually quite good and a lot of fun. This might be due to it being written by John Sayles, who wrote a number of fun B-movies, such as PIRANHA (1978) and THE HOWLING (1981).
Robert Forester stars as the hard nose cop who is investigating a series of disappearances near different sewer outlets. He teams up with reptile specialist Robin Riker, and game hunter Henry Silva, and they set out to put an end to the 36-foot eating machine. This was still back in the early ‘80s when good taste really hadn’t come into play, so anybody could end up as alligator chow. Even kids. There is a sequence with the alligator in a neighborhood swimming pool, with some little kids playing around it that is something that you don't see nowadays. It definitely fits the bill for a fun movie to watch in a group.
THE FOOD OF THE GODS (1976) Our last film, we pretty much stayed in the same vein. We ended the day with this classic from Bert I. Gordon. Gordon’s films of the ‘50s always made use of camera tricks, making simple creatures into gigantic proportions, turning them into a terrifying monster, like THE BEGINNING OF THE END and EARTH vs. THE SPIDER. While during the ‘60s, he only made one “giant” film, he came back with a vengeance in the ‘70s with this film and EMPIRE OF THE ANTS (1977).
In FOOD, on a remote Canadian island, a strange goop pouring out the earth is used as an experimental animal food that Ida Lupino and her husband were giving to their chickens, causing them to grow to abnormal size. It was okay when it was just the chickens that grew in size to 7 feet tall. But when everything else gets into it, such as mosquitoes, caterpillars, and finally rats get into the food, the all hell breaks loose.
Marjoe Gortner is a football player that is on the island with some friends for some horseback riding and hunting. But when one of his friends is attacked by giant mosquitoes, he realizes that something strange is going on. But by that time, it's too late to escape. He ends up at Lupino's house, along with some others trying to escape what is happening. Pamela Franklin, a personal favorite of mine since THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1974), joins in the fun, along with Ralph Meeker and Belinda Balaski. Gordon really knew how to write dialog that would be entertaining for years to come. When faced with the possible demise from this giant rats, Franklin turns to Gortner, telling him she's so scared to die that she wants him to sleep with her. Isn't that always the case?
Also, there's a big debate as to just what Gordon was doing to these rats during the filming When Gortner and crew are shooting at them with shotguns, while I'm sure Gordon was using just a paint pellet gun, it sure doesn't look to fun for the rats, as they fly across the screen once they get hit.
So we made it through another year of fun, though this was not as hard as the previous year. Being AC's first time doing this, we wanted to make sure he'd come back next year. But then, maybe we won't be so easy on him.....
Once again, it was time to test our prowess when it came to endurance and sheer will power. And once again, I was joined by Dr. AC who willfully joined us for another year of film, fun, and fanatical devotion to test our sanity. Guess he didn’t learn last time.
KING DINOSAUR (1955) - Since we had touched upon Mr. BIG last year with FOOD OF THE GODS (1976), we thought it would be a good idea to start this year with one of the films from the start of Gordon’s film career. Now even though ‘dinosaur’ is in the title of the film, what we actually get is an iguana and a baby alligator. The iguana is even referred to as a T-Rex in the movie. Boy, did someone miss a few of their paleontologists’ classes. When Gordon has these two creatures battling it out for world domination, it was something possible way before the likes of PETA were around. But even better than the creature fighting is just the dated dialog and actions of our small cast. These were the days when it was pretty normal just to have a small thermonuclear device that you could carry around, and bring to another planet…just in case you’d need it.
Four scientist travel by rocket to the planet Nova, which had recently entered our solar system. Even though the planet looks pretty similar to Earth, more so Bronson's Canyon in California, the giant creatures there tend to put off our scientist and decide that blow up the place since we couldn't live there. Once they make their escape from the giant creatures, one of guys says "I brought the atom bomb. I think it's a good time to use it!" That is the high quality of intense dialog that you'll hear throughout this movie.
In the short running time of the film, it is padded out by a lot of stock footage. A lot of stock footage. Then there is the way they treat the lemur, and even the way the two female scientist are treated. Sure, this is the '50s and a much different time. But watching it today will get plenty of laughs out of the guys. Just make sure you're not laughing in front of any significant other of the female persuasion. But even with all of that, if you're expecting a nice Turkey Day movie, then you will enjoy this one a lot.
EVIL CLUTCH (1988) - Next up was one tough hill to climb. It was a film that I had seen before, but apparently had forgotten just how awful it is. And even worse (for her career), that it stars a good friend of ours, Coralina Cataldi Tassoni. This is the movie that she hates, and rightfully so. Folks, not only is this is one bad movie, but it really hurts to try and get through. Even being a huge fan of Italian cinema, especially from the ‘80s when the blood and gore was flying around like parmesan cheese at an Italian restaurant, this is just a terribly made film. There is a chase sequence at the end of the film that just seems to go on forever! Andreas Marfori wrote and directed this mess, and thankfully didn't work that much more in the film industry. Truly a film to earn its place in any Turkey Day marathon, but is one tough piece of meat to not only chew, but to also keep down. So if you decide to watch this film, take heed. Do it with a friend, or not at all. This is one that you really need a spotter on.
THE FROZEN DEAD (1967) - So trying to recover from that misery, we put in a title that I knew was going to be a bit more fun. When you’re dealing with Nazis and strange medical experiments on the dead, how can it not be, right? As a kid, there was a movie that I had seen on TV late one night, that I didn't remember the title or a lot of the movie itself, but there were a few scenes that stayed with me for years afterwards. There is the shot of the wall of several arms hanging there. There were these soldiers that could only do one simple task, like comb their hair or dig a hole with an imaginary shovel. And of course, the scenes with the animated decapitated head, burned into my psyche like a soldering iron.
The movie starred Dana Andrews as a German doctor who is working on an experiment of reviving Nazi soldiers that after the war was over, volunteered to be frozen solid and revived once they could start a new war, and hopefully creating a new breed of super soldiers. Of course, there's a few glitches in the process of re-animating them, since their brains don't function too well. Not too promising for the new Third Reich.
This is not a great film by any means. But Andrews gives his performance with all the gusto he can. Everyone involved here were doing that. Even some of the dialog is cheesy, but said with great conviction. It's films like this that stay memorable, even after many years, they are always enjoyable to watch and have a good time with.
TENTACLES (1977) - Our last film for the day almost put both of us to sleep. Not necessarily because it was boring, but it was way too freaking long! Personally, I can never get enough of all the JAWS inspired movies that followed it's success, and this film from Ovidio G. Assonitiswas one of many. But I swear that movie felt like it was 3 hours long. It featured a great all-star cast, with big names like Henry Fonda and John Huston. Even had Shelly Winters as a flirtatious bar-hopping floozy, which was scarier than any giant octopus. While we did have a great idea for a JAWS rip-off, and even had some great sequences, the film just gets too bogged down and really, really……really drags on.
Following the basic theme to a T, TENTACLES is about a "evil" corporation that just might be spilling some nasty stuff into the ocean during one of their underwater constructions. And this might just have caused a octopus to grow to enormous size. Big enough where it's snatching babies off the beach! Fun stuff here folks...at least during some parts of the movie. But the movie gets too bogged down with trying to tell the story and not getting to enough action. That might have had something to do with having such an all-star cast and not wanting to waste them. One difference in this film from the other JAWS rip-offs is that to battle this giant multi-legged creature, they get a couple of trained killer whales to attack it, with the help of their trainer Bo Hopkins.
So after that film that seemed to take forever to finish, afterwards, we knew we our marathon for the day definitely was over as well. An attempt on another movie would have been futile since we both would have been asleep. So after four films, some damn entertaining, and some just tough to sit through, we made it through another Turkey Marathon.
Another year and another trip down the slippery slope of cinematic mishaps, misfires, and just plan screw ups. Joining me once again was Dr. AC, who has become my ally and trusted companion on these trips to the ends of good taste and good movies, watching each other’s backs while we trudge along this journey some would call madness. But we feel that it’s our duty to tackle these turkeys by the giblets and show them just who is stronger! But let’s get on to the movies!
KILLDOZER (1974) - Growing up in the ‘70s, I was able to watch a lot of great made-for-TV movies that were being produced at the time. As well as some…not-so-good ones. A lot like the idea for NIGHT OF THE LEPUS, whoever thought that a bulldozer that becomes possessed by an alien force, causing it to seek out and kill workers on an island construction site, might have thought it was a great idea. But sometimes that spark of genius needs to be thought out a little bit more. Even more surprising when it was based on a short story by noted sci-fi writer Theodore Sturgeon, who ever worked on the teleplay.
The idea of a bulldozer being able to sneak up on anybody other than blind people who are too numb to feel the ground shake, it about as silly as you can get. But that didn’t stop them from making KILLDOZER. This is a great example of what could get back bade in that time. Western regular Clint Walker stars as a foreman trying to get his life and career back after a bout with alcoholism. So when the weird stuff starts to happen, he knows nobody will believe him. The film co-stars future TV star Robert Urich, James Wainwright, and the always memorable Neville Brand.
THE SEA SERPENT (1984) - Our next film shows just how a great filmmaker can have an off day….or so. Director Amando de Ossorio was the director who created one of the creepiest monsters in Spanish horror history, the Blind Dead. He would make four films with these memorable monsters in the early ‘70s, basing them on the famous Templar Knights. But he made several other genre films in his career, in varying degree of quality. But his last one, THE SEA SERPENT, is probably not the one that he hopes that he is remembered by.
Sea captain Pedro Fontán is played by Timothy Bottoms, who tries to pass off as an non-American, and does it about as good as Sean Connery mastering any accent other than a Scottish one. But none the less, after his boat is attacked and sunk, by what he claims to be a giant sea monster, he loses his license and the respect of his fellow sea men. Then after a young woman watches her friend get eaten by this creature, she joins forces with him to discover the truth behind this mysterious monster. They are joined by Ray Milland, an oceanographer trying to discover this ancient creature. This was one of the last movies that Milland did and sort of looks like Darth Vader after taking off his mask at the end of RETURN OF THE JEDI.
The special effects used for the giant sea serpent are about equal to any monster in the Scooby Doo cartoons. It is one that will make you either laugh out loud, or cover your mouth in horror of what the actors had to work with. The effects guys tried like hell but just couldn’t do anything that was even remotely scary. But none the less, the movie is great fun and is a perfect choice for any Turkey Day, or just anytime that you need one of those great “bad” movies.
LORELEY’S GRASP (1974) – Not sure why we did this, since it wasn’t really planned. Plus it’s a film that I personally wouldn’t consider a Turkey, though I think AC would argue that point. But right after SEA SERPENT, we went on to another Amando de Ossorio film. This is a film that I seen at a midnight screening in my youth, under the title WHEN THE SCREAMING STOPS. They were even passing out barf bags for the screening. How cool was that? Couldn’t believe how gory the film was, even though a bit cheesy. This version also had the screen flashing red as a warning before anything gory was going to happen. Nice. The story is about a girl school where they are being attacked and brutally torn apart by some unknown beast. So a hunter from the village is hired to track down this animal or whatever it is, and destroy it.
For me personally, one of the highlights of the film is Helga Liné, starring as the mysterious Lorelei. Could she be the one that turns into some sort of lizard monster, tearing out the hearts of the young women? Could be. Liné starred in many Spanish horror films, including a couple with Paul Naschy, and even a couple of early Italian films. She' always been a favorite actress of mine and is always memorable, usually playing the villain. Tony Kendall is the hunter hired to kill her, but accidentally falls under her spell. Filled with the usual beautiful sets, and sequences filled with gore, and enough beautiful women to keep any male fan of Spanish horror eyes glue to the screen.
Lucky for us Spanish horror fans, this movie was released in it's original version on DVD by BCI a few year ago, both as a single edition as well as a double feature disc with HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB, also starring Liné.
OCTAMAN (1971) – Keeping in line with sea monsters, sort of, we finished off the day with this fine piece of work. Unfortunately, this movie is in dire need of a properly cleaned up DVD release. The VHS prints are so dark that it hides a lot of the wonderful action shots of the creature, which were created by a young Rick Baker. But even that didn’t stop from enjoying this great little monster movie, cheesy or not. This is a great example of a good old-fashion monster movie. Sure, it won’t hold up or compare to modern day terrors like ALIEN or PUMPKINHEAD, but it does bring back a certain spirit that is missed in today’s films.
Kerwin Matthews and Jeff Morrow lead a scientific expedition to Mexico to investigate the possible pollution in the water after they find some mutated octopus or two. But once they get there and start messing around with the local sea creatures, the title character shows up to stop them. Part environmental preaching / part monster movie, this movie is just plain fun. It’s a wonder that Jeff Morrow would be in another film like this, after his experience with THE GIANT CLAW. Maybe at this point in his career, he just needed the work.
So after five years of doing this, has it built up my resistance to these types of movies? Has it made me more tolerable to bad films? Or has it just given me one day out of the year to just experience bad cinema! Whatever the answer might be, it's always a fun time and don't plan on stopping just yet.
Now in the 6th year of holding my annual Turkey Day marathon, AC and I took another fistful of films considered to be turkeys, B-movies, MST-fodder, or just a waste of time. But not for us. As crazy as we might be, we find quite a bit of enjoyment out of watching these films, where the filmmakers were really trying to their best to make a good film. Granted, most of them missed the mark when it comes to being good. But is it entertaining? That is the true test of a film, turkey or not. So let’s venture forth and see what fun we got ourselves into this year. From a couple of alien invasion films, Tiny Tim as a clown, Hammer’s sci-fi epic, or a low budget film from good old Michigan, we had our work cut out for us this year. Let’s begin.
THE EYE CREATURES (1965) – Larry Buchanan was a filmmaker that makes Roger Corman look like he had bigger budgets than James Cameron. He was making his little films in his home state of Texas, and usually turning a profit. Sure, he may not have made high quality films, but the ones that he made, made money. And in the film business, that is the only way to continue to making films. He had made a deal with American International Pictures to remake their film INVASION OF THE SAUCERMEN. Of course, with a much lower budget, and in color. But it didn’t stop him from giving them, and us, THE EYE CREATURES. This was so successful, that he went on to remake 3 more titles from the AIP catalog.
Starring John Ashley, the film pretty much follows the original, except the creatures themselves. Where in the original, the creature designs were well-crafted and thought out by Paul Blaisdell. But here, we have guys in suits that look like the Michelin Man’s 2nd cousin. There are a couple of scenes where there are several of the alien creatures attacking, moving very slowing and waving their arms. But if you look closely, you will see that only a couple of the closer aliens had full body suits on, while some others just have their head and shoulders covered, the rest of their bodies covered in black. Pretty damn funny that nobody caught that.
But none the less, Ashley gives it his all, like he always did. And it’s a fun movie with the definite feel of the ‘50s movies that it was based on. There is a lot of the silly humor in here, with both some main characters, and the whole subplot of a couple of military guards that like to use the radars to spy on the kids making out in lovers lane. Lucky for us, the film did get an actual DVD release, so many can enjoy it for years to come.
BLOOD HARVEST (1987) – This next film comes from another filmmaker that refused to work in Hollywood, only to create his own film studio in…Wisconsin! Bill Rebane, writer, director, editor, producer, cinematographer, and just about anything else that had to do with the filmmaking process, he knew how to do. Not too well, some might say, but that’s always debatable. Rebane’s biggest hit was the wonderful GIANT SPIDER INVASION (1975), but he had made a few other choice titles in his career.
One of his last films was a standard slasher film. But because of the star of the film, it put it into the next level of filmmaking, making it a prime choice cut for our Turkey Day marathon. The film was BLOOD HARVEST and starred cult personality Tiny Tim. But what could be even more frightening than Tiny Tim in a slasher movie? How about having him play a clown! The Big Double T spends most of his time in makeup, as the Marvelous Mervo. But this isn’t like he’s a professional clown, or at least not in the movie. He just stays in makeup, creeps around at night, and likes to sing instead of talking. Sometimes it even makes sense. One can only imagine being on the set of this picture, since I don’t think Tim was really acting, but just being himself. And that had to be the scariest part of this movie.
Besides Tim, which is entertainment enough to watch this film, the rest of the movie really isn’t that bad. We have all the ingredients for a standard slasher: some blood, nudity, and a mysterious killer on the loose. Throwing in a twisted clown, being played by Tiny Tim, just gives it icing on the cake. And look for an early acting role for Peter Krause, who would later star in HBO’s SIX FEET UNDER.
LURKING TERROR (2002) – This is the first film by writer/director/producer/actress Tommy Brunswick, who hails from Michigan. A buddy of our’s worked on the creature effects on this, and we’ve been meaning to get to it for quite some time, so we figured what better time than during our Turkey Day marathon!
The film deals with a combination of an ancient evil living out in the woods, and a demented family capturing and killing anybody dumb enough to cross paths with them. The film is pretty bloody, and not bad for a shot-on-video film. But unfortunately is bogged down by what most of these types are: bad acting and no money.
MOON ZERO TWO (1969) – Hammer Films, known primarily for their horror films, would often venture off into different genres, like fantasy, pirate movies, dinosaur movies, and the like. They always had that usual Hammer scope and feel to them and were usually pretty successful at it too. But not on this one. They came up with an idea for a cowboy style movie, but set in space. Director Roy Ward Baker and the cast tried their hardest to make it work, but it just fell flat.
Jason Olsen leads the cast, as a space pilot refusing to join the corporate way of doing things and stay on his own and independent. When he gets the chance to make some serious money on a special job, one that requires “no questions”, he runs into just about every kind of trouble he can. A lot of time and money went into the set designs and art direction, which do give you some entertainment. But just not the kind that I think they were hoping for. It really becomes more silly than serious. Joining Olsen on this adventure, was Adrienne Corri, Catherina Von Schell, Warren Mitchell, Bernard Bresslaw, and of course, Michael Ripper.
Although, I will say that opening theme song is just a hoot! If you want to hear it, just click HERE.
ALIEN FACTOR (1978) – Our last film for this year’s marathon was another one of those that might be considered cheesy by some people, but I think it’s actually a well done and fun movie. Sure, the acting is pretty amateur and cheesy, but because of all the great creatures and effects the film has, I could easily let that go. We have several different monsters in this film, all of them made the good old fashion way with rubber and makeup, and done quite well. Hell, they even did some force perspective shots, some Sure the acting isn’t the greatest. But the passion makes up for a lot of that and they came up with a pretty entertaining and fun movie.
This was the first film made by Baltimore filmmaker Don Dohler, who became tired of his day job, especially after a robbery, and decided that he was going to make movies. The real charm to ALIEN FACTOR and Dohler’s movies in general, is the sheer passion for the good old fashion monster movie. He didn't go beyond anything that he didn't think he could accomplish. He stayed within his means and made entertaining movies with what he had. While not a great film by any means, it does remind us of the films and filmmakers of that time, when there were the little guys making these movies outside of the Hollywood system, and were using their brains instead of being able to throw money at it.
He has made several films that are worth watching, but just make sure they are the ones that he directed. The later films that he worked on as cinematographer and Joe Ripple directing, turned more into the typical crap that one is use to seeing for shot-on-video stuff.
So we bring this year’s marathon to an end on a higher note than we usually do. Think that might have to be a regular thing we do, ending the marathon with at least an good movie. That way we don’t leave with a terrible taste in our mouth after such a gluttonous feast.
This year’s marathon brought something new to the table. A third victim! Joining me and AC this year was our buddy Matt Carr (aka gore artist Putrid) who finally decided to take up our offer to spend the day rolling around in cinematic garbage. With Matt being a fan of such things and very used to it, we know he’d feel right at home.
STING OF DEATH (1965) – Our first movie came from Florida’s own William Grefe, another renegade filmmaker that didn’t want to leave his Florida location and would stay and make his movies there. STING was Grefe’s first real venture into the horror genre, creating the first half man/half jellyfish creature that has to be seen to be believed. Seeing a guy wearing a black wetsuit, with basically a plastic garbage bag over his head, and wires hanging off of him that are supposed to be tentacles is just priceless. It really is one of the best cheesy monsters in cinematic history. And it’s a blast.
A group of biology students head over to an island off the coast of the Everglades to have a party at Dr. Richardson’s house, where his daughter has just showed up to stay for a while. The doctor’s assistant, Egon, stands out like a sore thumb amongst her friends because he’s slightly deformed. So that makes it okay for all her friends to laugh, point, and generally make fun of him. But hey…they’re just wacky kids. In fact, right after they get there, they start the swinging dance party. There’s even a song playing called ‘Do the Jellyfish’ that was written and sung by famous singer/songwriter Neil Sedaka. I’m sure this was at the start of his career…But somehow, with all the dancing, the kids don’t happen to see this jellyfish creature sneak into the pool that they’re dancing around, waiting for someone to jump in the pool. As we said, it has to be seen to be believed.
Grefe would go on to make other successful drive-in style movies, including his most famous one, STANLEY (1972).
GRAVEYARD DISTURBANCE (1987) – By the time the late ‘80s, Italian filmmakers were doing more work for television than they were for the theater. This is one example, directed by Lamberto Bava. The real sad thing about this movie is that it looks just beautiful. There is some amazing set designs, great looking creatures, just a wonderful picture to watch. The problem is that NOTHING HAPPENS! A group of young adults get trapped in an underground tomb that, like the plot, seems to go nowhere.
There are so many times when it looks like something good is going to happen, only to have some pretty stupid humor, or something that just makes no sense at all. The ever so lovely Beatrice Ring, who would later star in ZOMBI 3 (1988), plays one of the leads trapped in this cavernous hell, along with Karl Zinny, who had a role in Bava’s DEMONS (1985).
I think that was one of the hardest part for all of us trying to get through this movie is that since it did look great, but that nothing really happened, made it pretty disappointing. We knew it was a made-for-TV movie, but we’re just hoping for a little bit more.
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL NIGHTMARE (1987) – Rock star Jon Mikl Thor (or rather wanna-be rock star) decided that if his musical career wasn’t going to put him into stardom, then he would also try the movies. After having a taste of the horror genre the previous year by playing a guy brought back from the dead to avenge his death in ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE, he decided to write his own movie, and of course star in it as well.
It’s about a rock band going to an old farm to record their new album. Just so happens that something very evil and mysterious happened at this very same farm house years ago. And low and behold, once they get settled in, more strange stuff starts to happen and members of the band start getting killed off or possessed. There are several musical performances by the band, which depending on your taste for ‘80s hair bands will rate how much you’ll either enjoy this or just be embarrassed by it. The acting is just laughable, and the same with the creatures that show up. They look like rejects from a Muppets Halloween episode. No real scares here, but a lot of look at and laugh. A perfect movie for a Turkey Day marathon.
MEGA SHARK VS GIANT OCTOPUS (2009) – This feature was a first for my annual marathon. In the seven years that I’ve been holding these, we had never screen a movie that came out that year. But this was one film that didn’t need to gestate for years before it became a turkey. It was one right from day one. And the makers of the film knew it, which made it even more enjoyable.
The film is played completely straight, just like the old movies from the 50s, where the guy had to keep a straight face while looking at a man in a goofy rubber costume. But here, all our creatures are completely CGI, most of which is just a shade better than something that you’d see on the Cartoon Network. But they seemed to just revel in the outrageousness of the whole concept. We have a shark that is so big, that it literally jumps out of the ocean and grabs an airliner right out of the air. It is one of the craziest things I’ve seen during these Turkey Day screenings, but that had to be one of the best moments.
The film stars ‘80s pop star Deborah Gibson and B-movie/TV star Lorenzo Lamas trying to either start their career or completely bury it. Again, same with the older cheesy movies, I wonder if these stars knew what the title creatures were going to look like and how outrageous their actions were going to be. In either case, I never would have believed how entertained we were watching this. Granted, something like this should never be attempted alone, since the enjoyment factor will never be as high as when with a bunch of friends. Trust me. I know what I speak of.
BOARDING HOUSE (1982) – Our last little feature was one that was one of the first shot-on-video productions that actually played some theaters. I know this for a fact, since it played the theater I worked at back in the early ‘80s. Granted, I thought it was just a terrible movie back then, even though it did have its share of blood & boobs. So I never went back to it. But now that it was on DVD, and felt like a perfect movie for our marathon, and the fact that Putrid just happens to think this is one of the greatest movies ever made, how could we pass it up?
A man opens up a boarding house, welcoming in young and beautiful women to stay with him. Of course, there is some evil living in the house, waiting to kill or make people kill themselves in horrible and graphic ways. But this doesn’t stop these young women to be in a constant state of undress, running around playing and wrestling with each other. Some of the gore sequences are just goofy as hell, but are bloody. They will get a reaction out of you, one way or another.
So another year goes by, and we were able to stomach five movies in total. But even more impressive, each and every one of these titles more than qualifies as a turkey. We didn’t even throw in a good one to ease the pain, but stuck through them all. And I know we’ll be back again next year to do it all over again. God help us all.
This year’s Turkey Day Marathon set a couple of new records. First off, we had more for people in attendance than ever before. Safety in numbers, as they say. As always, Aaron Christensen was with us for this onslaught of ocular horror. But joining us was our new friend Craig Clark who made a journey of several hours to make it to our little marathon. We love that kind of dedication. Also stopping by was Joe Wallace and his girlfriend Jen who were on the their way back from Thanksgiving festivities, and decided to have some Turkey Day films for dessert! And my son Nick, who usually pops in and out of the viewings, actually stayed with us through the entire adventure. But also, we got through a total of 7 films this year. Another high point of insanity that is the Turkey Day Marathon. So let’s get on to the first course in this year’s feast!
TERROR FROM THE YEAR 5000 (1958) – This year, I wanted to start off the marathon with something a little older, but still a lot of fun. About a week earlier, I had sat down to watch this film that I had recently got a copy of. About 10 minutes into it, I stopped it and knew I had to save it for Turkey Day.
A scientist has developed a machine that can bring something from the future back to present day. The young financial investor is not happy about waiting for test results, and wants to keep pushing the machine to the limits. And as we expected, something eventually comes through that they hadn’t bargained for! This has got some classic early sci-fi dialog and actions in there that are just hilarious. Never knew that putting something that is radioactive in water will no longer contaminate you! Just love it. Or that carbon dating can actually be used to see how old things are…even if they are from the future.
This is an early AIP picture, by first time director Robert J. Gurney Jr., who only worked on a few pictures, including writing and producing AIP's INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN the year before. No matter how silly the dialog or science theories we get here, we have to give him kudos for giving us this entertainingly fun movie.
REPTILICUS (1961) – We had seen this film a couple of times before, but none the less never stops to entertain. Made in Denmark, and apparently got the whole country involved in the film. Don’t see city-wide panic scenes like that outside of Japan and their Godzilla movies.
While drilling, the remains of a prehistoric creature are found and brought to Copenhagen for study. And like all good prehistoric monsters, this one is just not completely dead. Since it is a lizard based creature, it has the ability to re-grow an entire new body from the part of the tail that was found. So before you can say “who left the freezer door open all night?” the creature is alive, growing, and has escaped. Of course, this is not before we get a nice sight-seeing tour of the city and its exciting nightlife, with a nice little song and dance number at a local club.
But the monster, of course, is the real star of the movie, and it won’t let you down. This little miniature puppet that is being pulled and pushed through a miniature set is just damn entertaining. When the army brings out all stops to try and destroy the creature, from tanks to flamethrowers, nothing seems to work on this gigantic creature. Meanwhile, it tears through the countryside and town, leaving a trail of destruction. If you’re a fan of giant monster movies, no matter how cheesy they are, then this one is right up your alley.
THE DAY TIME ENDED (1980) – Director John ‘Bud’ Cardos had given us KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS, which we've always found to be one hell of a fun movie. So when we picked up this DVD, that promised us "A mind-bending vortex of terror!", we knew we had a real winner on our hands and one that would be perfect for Turkey Day. With a cast of Jim Davis and Christopher Mitchum, and stop motion creatures how could this be bad? Well unfortunately, once you start watching this movie, you actually believe that time had ended, and the end of this movie is never going to come.
A family living in the middle of the desert meet up with aliens, some that are friendly, and some that are not. But with their run in with stop-animated creatures, small alien space ships that invade their house, and tons of bright flashing lights flying the the sky, there is plenty of things going on in this movie. Unfortunately, it is still boring as hell.
Sure, this was one of those low budget movies that were trying to jump on the sci-fi space band wagon with aliens and flashing UFO lights and all of that fun stuff. Being produced by Charles Band, you knew what they were trying to do. But the problem is the dated special effects are the only thing that is somewhat entertaining in this movie. It is slow and just plain dull. It is worth noting that some of the people that did work on the special effects of the film. You have people like future Oscar winner Randall Cook as well Oscar nominated Jim Danforth and David Allen.
So unless you’re looking for a very slow trip down memory lane, there are plenty more movies from this time that are still enjoyable today. This one unfortunately, I cannot say that about.
MONSTER DOG (1984) – This one has two famous names attached to it. Well, more like one famous and one infamous. The famous one would be Alice Cooper, in one of his early acting roles, that was a little more meatier than just performing a song. In fact, he’s the main character. He’s Vincent Raven, a rock star that is coming home to the place where he grew up to shoot a new video. But even before he gets there, he and his crew learn of the pack of killer dogs that are on the loose in the area.
The infamous one is Italian cult director Claudio Fragasso. He’s probably best known in the states as the director of TROLL 2, especially now with the BEST WORST MOVIE is out on DVD. Fragasso has written and directed a couple of dozen movies in Italy, and they are not what most would call high quality made films. Are they entertaining? Well, that’s a different story. Anybody that has seen TROLL 2 can answer that. Unfortunately, MONSTER DOG never develops the cult feel that something like TROLL 2 does.
The film has a lot of people wandering around this darkened and foggy house and its surroundings. There is the big question as to if there is this title creature out there, and if there is, who is the one that turns into it? There is a tiny bit of gore, other than one great scene, not a lot here to even keep the gorehounds happy.
This movie isn’t as bad as its reputation, but it’s not cheesy enough to make it really entertaining that in that sort of way.
FATAL FRAMES (1996) – This film was supposed to restart the Italian film industry before it came out. With a cast full of famous faces, both from the US and Italy, this was going to be the one. And once it came out, I’m surprised they didn’t ban filmmaking in Italy all together!
Italian films are known for the whole ‘style of substance’ way of filmmaking. But director Al Festa goes way overboard trying to fill every single frame with it. And with a running time of over 2 hours, it gets very old, very quickly. And if that wasn’t enough, the script and the acting are battling over who can be the worst part of the movie. Not sure who wins, but I know the viewer loses….every time. Plus, Festa also provides the music for the film, doing his hardest to rip off the works of Goblin and other Italian soundtracks. Maybe if this film was cut down to under 90 minutes, it might not have seemed that bad. But by the time you get to the last 30 minutes, you are more than ready for it to be over.
An American director is hired to go to Italy to film a music video, shortly after his girlfriend had been murdered. Once he’s there, he witnesses the murder of several young girls, but when the police get there, there is no evidence of a murder or anything. Stefania Stella is the producer & wife of director Festa. She is also the main star of the film, so we can see many scenes of her singing while they film her music video. Her acting is simply terrible. Sure, you might like watching her, if only to see if her large breasts might fall out of her clothes, but even that gets pretty old. In other words, a perfect movie for our Marathon.
FIEND (1980) - Baltimore filmmaker Don Dohler had directed a few films in his way too short career. Most were cheesy, but usually always fun, mainly because of the monsters that he had in there. The good old fashion rubber monster, guy-in-a-suit kind. Always enjoyed those kind. But this time out, we watched his film FIEND, which while it did feature some pretty good makeup on the title creature, it was pretty slow.
Dohler regular Don Leifert stars as a reanimated corpse after an alien force enters his body in the cemetery. To keep his body from decaying, he needs to suck the lifeforce out of victims that he finds along the way. Of course, this alien being retains the information and knowledge from the deceased body and resumes his life. While the acting in here is someone bad enough to make some of it entertaining, most of it is just boring. George Stover, another Dohler regular, is always entertaining to watch, no matter what role he has. Unfortunately here, it is a minor one.
Leifert had recently passed away, which is why we wanted to add this movie to our lineup this year, to pay tribute to him. He appeared in most of Dohler's earlier films, such as ALIEN FACTOR and NIGHTBEAST.
GARDEN OF THE DEAD (1974) – This was our last film of the marathon. It was getting late, so what better than throwing in a movie that runs a clean 60 minutes long! And even better, with a story like this one, it is a fitting dessert to the full plate of turkey that we ingested so far.
A bunch of prisoners are huffing some type of formaldehyde to get high. Not sure how they get it into a gaseous state, but none the less, they just can’t get enough of it. The same group attemps to break out, but not only get caught, but they are shot down by the guards and buried in the prison yard. But later that same night, these prisoners rise up from their graves and head back to the prison for more of their formaldehyde, killing anyone in their way.
For a super low-budget film, we were really impressed with the makeup job here. Granted, that and the strange story, is about the only thing that will impress you. But it is a fun little zombie film with a different bit of a twist than your normal zombie films. Yea, they are not what would typically be called zombies, but they did return from the dead, and are in various states of decomposing. But if you have an hour to kill and feel like something unique, then I’m sure you’ll get a smile or two out of this.
So our Turkey Day 2010 comes to an end. With more people and more films than before, it was even more fun this time out. This is the way to celebrate movies and friends. Spending time with great friends, watching movies and just having a good time. All is right with the world once again. See you next year.
Welcome to our latest installment for our Turkey Day Marathon recap. For our 9th year holding this little festival, it has grown quite a bit over the last few years. At one point during the marathon, we had 8 people here, all eyes glued to the amazing film that was coming our of the TV. Well, maybe not amazing, but definitely entertaining. In fact, not one of the 7 films that we got through this year was one of those that we were just waiting for the end to come. So that really was a first for our T-Day viewing party. Usually there is at least one title that makes us just hate life in general. Not to say we didn't have our fill of Turkeys. We had quite a few gems in here.
But before we get to the films, lets get to the victims. As always, Dr. AC (aka Aaron Christensen), my Turkey Day co-pilot since 2005 was there. As well as Craig Clark, making another long journey to take part in the marathon. Last year, Joe Wallace and his girlfriend Jen had stopped by near the end. But this year, they were here right from the start. And our newest victim was another Chicago horror regular, Jason Coffman. He is no stranger to movie marathons, so we knew he was a would have no problem joining our cinematic shindig. My son Nick had to work for most of the day, but was back in time to catch the last couple of flicks. And while not in the kitchen making copious amount of food for the gang, my wife Dawn came down for a couple of the films as well. I mean, she's married to me, so it can't be too much of a surprise for her to see these kind of flicks....just saying! But let's get on to this years movies.
NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST (1958) - Our first film was an early Corman (both Gene and Roger) production for American International Pictures. A single manned rocket is coming back to Earth after being the first to break the atmosphere, but their re-entry process isn't the best and it crashes, killing the pilot. But for some reason, the pilot doesn't seemed to be as dead as he should be. And the ship just might have brought something back with it from space.
This was back when it seemed that you and a bunch of people could build your own rocket and send it out into space, without the bothersome interference with the government. Pretty cool, huh? But I guess then this is the kind of stuff that happens when you do....you bring back some alien life form that wants to take over the world! But this was also back when you could have one of these types of science pictures, when dialog is thrown out there that as long as it sounded scientific, it was just fine. That's smart sounding, so it must be right. Of course, listening to it now only brings a puzzled look on the viewer's face, followed by a "what did they just say?"
But none the less, major kudos
needs to go to persons responsible for the creation of the title creature.
Nothing makes a '50s sci-fi monster movie better than a great looking monster.
And here with BLOOD BEAST, they do quite well. That is really what it is
all about, when it comes down to it.
Our story is about a mad scientist located somewhere by some swamps, maybe Florida...maybe Louisiana...not really sure. Our mad doctor is trying to create some sort of new life form of a cross between man and fish. Lucky for him, he has a swimming pool full of alligators where he can dump the bodies of the failed experiments. But it seems that the locals think this scientist guy is up to something strange since some of the locals that go around there end up disappearing. These locals communicate with each other up through the swamp by the use of voodoo drums. Sure. Makes sense. We get glimpses of the creature, or at least its hand every now and then throughout the movie. But it finally takes to the end of the film before the experiment is finally a success and the creature comes out of the smoke filled fish take where it has been growing all along. And when we do get to see it...WOW. Huge ping pong balls for eyes, wearing a bald cap and pointed ears....how could it not be just amazing?
John Agar shows up as a
geologist that is trying to help look for oil and pretty much stands around
looking as about as interested as an Eskimo looking at a refrigerator.
Some Buchanan regulars show up like Tony Huston (who actually wrote the script
as well), Bill Thurman, and Jeff Alexander. Once you start watching enough
of Buchanan's work, you'll start to see these same faces over and over.
Its when you've taken your cult movie fan status to a new level. Watching
Buchanan films takes a lot of patience since there can be times when the dialog
will have you scratching your head...much like some of the cast are doing during
Somehow over the years, I had never caught this one. The only place I remember this from is from the montage film IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD, which showcased a bunch of these great cult movies. Craig brought this one for all to enjoy and we did just that. The dated dialog and acting was just great. Still amazes me how much time and effort is put into making those miniaturized cities all for some guy in a rubber suit to come barreling through and smashing everything.
But none the less, this was a
perfect fit for our marathon. Being a fan of these types of movies anyway,
and especially how cheesy these were from the '60s, it makes it fun stuff
for all ages. Highly recommend it if you can find a copy of it.
This film is filled with the great dialog we've come to expect and love from these kind of movies. They are so dated that it can't help but make you smile. But the real star of this movie is the title creature. Not sure who actually created the monster but they did one hell of an amazing job. These things are not only huge, but have quite a few moving parts as well. In one scene, one of them pops out of the water attacking some men on a boat, with its little arms wiggling about, the pinchers on the mouth opening and closing, all the while trying to grab one of the sailors. Even when one guy is attacked underwater, we see his body sucked dry of liquid, turning him into an empty husk.
So again, we wouldn't consider
this a Turkey, but is a movie that any fan of these types of movies will just
love. And if you're a monster fan, then you will want to check this out to
see one of the best monster creations ever made. Not sure why this movie
isn't talked about more often since it is a perfect example of when these good
old fashion monster movies were being made. Highly recommended.
So Adamson came up with a little introduction about vampires taking over the city, even making an appearance himself as one of the vampires. This is some how suppose to explain later the vampire people that we run into, even though it never is. But then right after that, we seem to be in the future with a space rocket about to be launched. The shot of the control panel is from some other movie that is it either a still frame or about a 2 second piece of footage that is played, then reversed, and then played back again, over and over. Brililant!
Aboard the ship is John Carradine, looking as old as ever. He sends most of the crew down to this foreign planet that they've come across while he stays on board. Any time he is on camera is a hoot. While the crew is out exploring the new planet in various colors, that is when they discover the inserted footage from TAGANI. Major kudos to Adamson for blending the stories together that I would bet that very few people back then knew they were being duped. We do have to give some major props to whoever came up with the lobstermen costumes, since they were pretty damn cool.
Again, is the movie good?
Hell no....we wouldn't be watching it on Turkey Day if it was. But the way
Adamson took some old footage, and some what wrote a movie around it, I think,
really showed how talented of a business man he was. He might not have
been able to make well made films, but he knew how to make films that he could
Once he finds and defeats the Prince of Magic, then he has to do battle with the devil himself, which likes wearing a black outfit with a red cape and plastic horns. And of course, he does battle with his 3-pronged pitchfork. So from zombies, to snake creatures, to Big Lou himself, there are plenty of things in there to keep you laughing.
What is surprising about this movie is that there are quite a few really outlandish scenes here. We have the Prince making someone's head spin around, someone getting crushed by a giant rock, snakes turning into kung-fu fighters, and much more. There are even a few really good gore sequences in here that while really surprise you. But the acting is soooo over the top and just damn silly, especially how serious they are trying to take everything, it just makes the film even more entertaining. I'm sure the bad dubbing isn't helping with the acting either, but we wouldn't expect anything different, would we? While not filled with the gore and nudity the Filipino films of the '60s and '70s were, it is still worth the watch.
Plus...how freaking cool is that
box art? I know if I was looking for a movie to watch, it wouldn't take
long to decide I have to see this movie after seeing that incredible box art.
Damn...whatever happened to that kind of box art.
The story is about an imprisoned strangler somehow manages to learn to develop his mental powers, making him become invisible and even move things just by thinking about them. He is the unwanted child of a famous star who didn't want to the world to know that she had a child, so she never acknowledged him. So he finally strangled her. But now, any women that reminds him of her, he has to kill her as well, therefore killing his mother over again and again.
While it seems this was a theatrical feature, this looks and feels just like a made-for-TV film. The special effects are about as dated as one would think for a movie made right before STAR WARS came out. Lots of super-imposed flashing lights. While not an over-the-top horror movie, with no gore whatsoever, the film is watchable if only for the main cast. Though, the guy playing Foxworth's partner, really seemed to love clicking that pen of his over and over and over and over again. So much so that you know it had to be annoying to Foxworth and the rest of the cast.
So not the greatest film in our marathon, if only because it wasn't as outrageous as the rest, it was worth the watch.
Another Turkey Day Marathon over with another 7 films devoured by our gang of cinematic gluttons for punishments. But stay tuned, because next year, we are going to do it all over again!
Who would have thought that I would have made this little event that I started 10 years ago become what it is today. Those first couple of years it was just me. Then my good friend Aaron Christensen started to join me and has been my trusted co-pilot ever since. Then over the last 3 or 4 years, it really started to grow into something really special. Within the 10 years, we have gone from just one crazy movie fan putting himself through some cheesy movies, to our last event which consisted of a group of 10 diehard movie fans reveling in every second of the cinematic follies that we pick. Welcome to our 10th Anniversary Turkey Day Marathon.
As I look back over those 10 years, I’m estimating that we have survived well over 50 films, with only 1 repeat (BLOOD FREAK). The official count of those that I can remember is 48, not counting the ones that I watched alone that first year. That is a lot of Turkey. There’s enough tryptophan in there to put down all the TWILIGHT fans that are waiting in line for the next movie! But all in all, it has been a lot of fun.
One of those reasons is the people that have chosen to join me each year on this insane escapade. This year, along with Aaron and myself, we had a few returners from previous years and a few new victims. Craig Clark once again made his trip from Indiana to participate in the fun. Also returning was Jason Coffman, making this his second year here. My son Nick somehow was able to get the day off from work (and if you work retail, getting Black Friday off is no small feat) so he could join in the whole day. Our Turkey Day virgins (though they all have been well trained in the art of cinematic casualties), were fellow Chicago area film fans Dustin Moravick, Brian Fukala, Mark Ellis, and Neil Calderone. And of course, while we were all feeding our brains with these mind-numbing features, my lovely wife Dawn kept our stomachs full with her very own onslaught of a variety of homemade pizzas. From breakfast pizzas to vegetarian, to hummus pizza and crab Ragoon, to even a Nutella pizza, not to mention a couple of dessert ones as well. The 10 of us went through 7 movies and 11 pizzas. That’s right…10 people…11 pizzas. You do the math. Needless to say, nobody left hungry. But enough of this….let’s get to the movies!
MISSILE TO THE MOON (1958) – We usually like to start the marathons off with something classic. Something maybe from the '50s and with a lot of 'Science'! Not sure why I had never gotten around to this movie before now, but MISSILE is a real hoot of a movie. This was one of the many movies featured in IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD, a pre-MST3K movie which featured a collection of movie clips where comedians like Cheech & Chong, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, and Gilda Radner would make witty comments about them. So for the longest time, I knew a couple of the scenes, but had no idea what movie it was from. But now that has been fixed and it one just a great time watching this movie.
From a giant spider that looked pretty damn cool, to these 10 feet tall rock monsters…that looked pretty silly….but still cool, this movie had it all. If you're a fan of these types of films, then you will just love it. Like a lot of these films of that era, they are filled with plenty of science stuff which is always fun to hear. Amazing that we never got the moon sooner!
The film also features several beauty contest winners that are the lovely women that inhabit the moon. You can definitely recognize them since they are the ones that are always walking back and forth in front of the camera! These kind of films were made with little money, but with a real desire to make a great movie. Whoever designed the giant spider did one hell of a job. As a kid watching it, I can just imagine how creepy it might have been. Even the rock monsters are pretty silly now when you watch it, but it can still give you that little nostalgic feeling of being a kid watching these types of films. They are just a lot of fun and this one will not disappoint.
FACE OF THE SCREAMING WEREWOLF (1964) – Now this film clearly deserves its place here in the Turkey marathon. Spliced together from a few different movies, Jerry Warren threw them together with some new footage that he made to try and make one feature. The only problem is that there are long sequence where nothing happens, or some that just seem to go on forever, like the native dance sequences. I guess you have to give Warren credit trying to do what he did. But it just doesn't work as anything more than an oddity.
A woman is put under hypnosis and travels back in time to the times of the Mayans where she relives a past life of princess who is going to be sacrificed. These sequences take way too long to get going. When the science team goes to the temples that she described in her dreams (we know this because a TV report where the guy basically tells us the story of the movie...nice). Once they get there, not only do they uncover Lon Chaney who is entombed like a mummy, but they are also attacked by an ancient mummy that is there to protect the ruins. They escape with the body of Chaney, who is quickly stolen from the museum by another scientist (most likely from another movie). Once Chaney is unwrapped and cleaned up, they bring him back to life. Of course, on the next full moon (which just happens to be that night), he turns into a werewolf! Exactly...must be seen.
As discombobulated that this movie is, it seems to drag on and on. AND it is only 60 minutes long! It is the longest 60 minutes you will sit through if you try and make it through this movie.
THINGS (1989) – Words cannot explain or even attempt to define this movie. The best one that I heard came from fellow T-Day attendee Jason Coffman, who said “it's like it was made not by incompetents, but by aliens.” I would say the basic story is about a man who is determined to find a woman to have his baby. But as they say, that is only beginning. So many things are in this movie that will have you scratching your head. The dialog. The action. The acting. The reasoning…or lack there of. It just goes on and on. It really is like no other film I have ever seen before. It seems they were trying to make a quick low budget film in the vein of something like EVIL DEAD, but failed miserably.
The movie was made in Canada and was shot on video, which is very, very obvious. The cast basically is about a guy who's pregnant wife somehow gives birth to some hideous creatures that run amok in the house. But that isn't even the strangest part of the movie. There are several scenes of them just sitting around drinking beers and telling ridiculous stories. And if that wasn't enough, there are things that happen that will have you looking at the person watching it will you, to see if they just seen the same thing. Like when one character arrives at the house, takes off his jacket and puts it in the freezer, even saying what he's doing. Or when one of them is making a sandwich and decides to put a bug in one of them for fun. Again...W-T-F?
In between these scenes, we cut to a 'news report' given by porn star Amber Lynn who is obliviously looking off to the side to read the cue cards. Are the stories that she's talking about have anything to do with the movie? Who knows.
The film was co-written by Barry J. Gillis, who has apparently gone on to work on a couple of other films, and is still working in the low budget business. Stranger things have happened. I would strongly suggest that people that are fan of strange cult films should seek this movie out. But I would recommend that you watch it with at least one other person, if not a few. Only because if you watch it alone, your brain will start to doubt what you're actually watching. And then next day, you'll wake up thinking the movie was just some sort of weird dream, the result of too much spicy food or something. Because there is no way that someone could actually make a film like this...and get it released!
THANKSKILLING (2009) – I’m not really sure how this ended up in our marathon, but I have to say the blame lays on myself. I don’t remember who it was, but someone had recommended it to me, which is how it got it on the list to begin with. Since it was a ‘turkey’ themed movie, I watched the trailer and though it did seem to be like a Troma film (which is not a good thing to me) for some reason I thought it would be a nice addition to the line up. How wrong I was. Rude and crude, and just plain bad jokes, cheesy acting, and a wise-cracking killer turkey. Yeah. Right. Granted, there is no way one couldn't have known this just by watching the trailer.
The film is about an old curse, laid down by some Indian witch doctor on the white man back in the days of the Pilgrims. So every 500 years or something like that, this killer turkey comes back to kill the white people for taking the Indian's land. Back in the current time, a group of kids go camping around the same area as where all of this happened all those years ago. For our cast of characters, we have the nerd, the jock, the virgin, the slut, and the hillybilly fat guy. Pretty prolific stuff, huh?
Even with the group of film fans here, ones that are well versed in dredging through the lowest of low when it comes to movies, just didn't see or get the humor or enjoyment in this title. Sure, there were a couple of scenes that was slightly amusing, but on a whole, it was just bad. Plain and simple, bad. So out of all the movies we got through on this event, this one truly was the only real turkey that we watched. Oh, the irony.
RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR (1984) – Making his first appearance in our marathons was Italian shlockmeister Bruno Mattei. It had been years since I’d watched this movie and figured what better way to introduce people to Mattei and his work than to show a one where the actors are constantly pelted with live rats, having them dumped on them by the hundreds. Sounds like fun, huh? Mattei was well known for making films very fast and very cheap. He made movies in pretty much all the genres, but really specialized in the horror and exploitation market. While it is questionable on the quality of the films, the entertainment value is usually there.
Well, like most of Mattei movies, the concept outlives the entertainment value very quickly. Lots of wandering around the small set, bunch of lame dialog and silly antics. But then it doesn't take long before one of these poor actors are covered in rats. Does make you wonder where they got all of these rats from. I'm sure they were all tested for diseases and stuff, right?
The film stars one of the most iconic actors in Italian cinema. Well...sort of. Ottaviano Dell'Acqua played the zombie that appears on poster for Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE. So while he was only in the film a few minutes, the image of him is very well known. His main job was that of a stuntman, but he appeared in quite a few horror and exploitation films over the years, including ZOMBI 3, NIGHTMARE CITY, CUT AND RUN, and plenty more. Also co-starring in the film was Geretta Geretta, who would later appear in Lamberto Bava's DEMONS, and Massimo Vanni who was another staple in the Italian exploitation film market. Watch enough of these cheesy Italian movies, and you'll start to notice more and more of the same faces.
BRAIN OF BLOOD (1972) - We always try to throw in a film from one of my favorite T-Day directors, like Buchanan or Rebane. Having just watched HORROR OF THE BLOOD MONSTERS last year, I figured why now throw in another Al Adamson movie this year! BRAIN OF BLOOD, like a lot of Adamson's movies, is a wonder that it got a release. He was able to crank these titles out with little or no money and even less time. But for me personally, that is one of the things I like about Adamson and his films. He was able to supply the drive-in theaters the kind of films that they were looking for. Cheap, fast, and full of the stuff the kids wanted to see: bloobs, blood, and beasts. And he always delivered. The story goes that this film was created, from concept to the final film prints, in less than a month. Try to have some big Hollywood director nowadays do something like that. It would take them twice as long just to decide on who would star in the movie!
In this outing, we have Grant Williams (star of THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN) and Kent Taylor transplanting brains. With some pretty realistic surgery sequences, and the helpful assistance of his side kick Angelo Rossitto, Taylor is taking the brain of a dying foreign president and putting it in the body of a young healthy victim. Of course, all good plans don't work out all the time and his brain gets put inside the body of a huge brute of a man with a disfigured face. And then fun ensuse!
Zandor Vorkov (aka Roger Engel) and John Bloom, who played the title characters in DRACULA VS FRANKENSTEIN, both appear in this film as well. While Vorkov had a minor role, since Bloom was 7' 4" tall, when he did appear in film, he was usually the bad guy or thug. He would appear in a few movies over his short career, including another notorious T-Day movie, THE INCREDIBLE TWO-HEADED TRANSPLANT. Also starring in the film is the lovely Regina Carrol, who happened to be married to Adamson. But even though she might not be the best actress, she was always fun to watch.
THE VIDEO DEAD (1987) - This was a film that I had seen when it first came out on video and remember thinking it was pretty terrible. Granted, that is way before I really had learned to accept and enjoy lower budgeted films, so I wasn't as forgiving as I am today. So I never bothered with it again. But when coming up for titles for the T-Day marathon, this one came to mind and thought it would be a great idea. I know it will be getting a blu-ray edition shortly, but for the time being, it was available on Netflix streaming, so it worked out quite well.
The story is about a strange TV that is delivered to a house by mistake. It was suppose to go to some research facility instead. But once the TV is one, a zombie movie starts to play. Except here, the zombies start to come out of the TV and attack the homeowners. Years later, the house is sold to and the two kids of the new owners get their before their parents arrive. And before too long, the zombies start showing up again.
I have to say that we were all impressed with the quality of the makeup done for this low budget film. The zombie makeup was really well done, much better than some of the stuff we see even today on the independent market. So that was great to see. Plus, for what it was, the story was pretty decent, along with the acting, and most of all, it was a lot of fun. Sure, not a great movie, but definitely a fun one to watch with a bunch of friends on a twisted movie night.
So after 7 movies, we called it a night. It seems that 7 films has become the standard number now, which is fine with us. Of course, getting through 7 courses of these movies is so much easier when you have plenty of friends to share them with. So thanks again for all of those that came out for our festival. And remember...next year, we're going to do it all over again.
You would think that after 10 years of holding these little marathons, putting movie viewers through some possibly horrendous films was not the nicest or smartest thing to be doing. Yeah...you would think. To those that think this just plain crazy, you are correct! But we do it anyway. The people that come out to help me celebrate my annual party are die-hard cinephiles that don’t mind getting on their hands and knees, drudging through the muck of cinematic garbage, or at least what some may call it. We try to find the higher points on these films, even though with some it is very tough to do that with, but we try anyway. It is our way to not only test our endurance, but also to highlight some of these hardworking filmmakers and their finished accomplishments. No matter how bad or good they might be, we feel they need to be remembered, even in the worse way.
We had no T-day virgins this year, but seasoned veterans that obviously are gluttons for punishment. While we thought for a while that Aaron Christensen wasn’t going to be able to make it due to an acting gig, he was able to work his way out for the first 4 movies before having to catch a train to meet up with his ride back to Milwaukee. That's dedication. Honestly, I was thrilled that he did since it wouldn’t have been the same without him, since he has been here to every one of them since 2005. Also returning was Joe Wallace, Jennifer Kilzer, Craig Clark, Jason Coffman, Neil Calderone, and Brian Fukula. Brian also had to leave early, after the 3rd film, but we get him credit for making the trip out for what he could. My son Nick had to work this year, so he missed most of the movies, but did arrive in time to catch one of them. And of course, probably one of the real reasons these guys keep coming out for this event is all the amazing pizzas made by my wife Dawn, who was able to sit in the last few movies. We had the usual breakfast pizzas, Italian beef pizza, crab Rangoon pizza, but also some new ones like the chili rellenos pizza that was just incredible.
Once again, we got through 7 films, but managed to devour 12 pizzas this time. So with only 8-9 of us here for most of the day, we seemed to go through a lot more pizzas than last year. I’m sure the excitement of the movies just meant we were burning up more calories, making us hungrier. Yeah…sure…I buy that. But lets get to the movies.
THE ATOMIC BRAIN (1963) – I had picked up a DVD collection called The Best of The Worse, which had 12 different titles in there. Most of them I already had in my collection, but there were a few that were missing that needed to be added. Since I always try to start our marathons off with something older and black and white, and with a title like that, I knew I could find one that we could use and THE ATOMIC BRAIN was it. Also known as MONSTROSITY, it was directed by Joseph Mascelli (though IMDB shows Jack Follexfen also as an un-credited director), who never directed anything else. He did work as a cinematographer on a few other pictures, most notably two films for Ray Dennis Steckler, THRILL KILLERS and INCREDIBLE STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED UP ZOMBIES. I'm sure if we didn't have 'high' expectations for the movie before, that surely would have done it! The film lists 4 different writers, which is never a good sign when you're hoping for a cohesive plot.
The movie is about a crazy old lady that doesn’t want to die so she is investing her money into a mad scientist who says he can transfer her brain into the body of a younger woman. After a few trials with him putting the brains of animals into various bodies, he thinks he can succeed now. I guess transferring the brain of a cat into a human, turning it into a human cat, with the ability to purr and meow just like a cat, as well as climb trees and run around the roof of the house, means success. One would think he would have tried transferring a human brain first, but what do I know...I'm not a scientist or a doctor. The old lady brings in three women from different countries, so they have no ties or anybody looking for them if they disappear, under the pretence of being a housekeeper, but in reality she is going to choose the one that has the best body. One off the three is from England has one of the worst accents I have ever heard. There were times you couldn't even understand what she said because her accent was so thick, then other times it almost sounded like she was from the south!
Always in the mood for a crazy mad scientist movie, this one is a lot of fun. The film does have some outrageous moments and plenty of nonsensical happenings. Characters try to escape but can't seem to do it, while some of the doc's experiments seem to walk right out of the house without a problem, granted running into another experiment that runs freely on the grounds. Good think no one will see that one! Not a great movie by any means, but plenty of interesting characters and a good old fashion mad scientist movie. There is plenty of that science-talk when they explain of what they are going to do. Plus, there is a narrator that comes in and out of the movie explaining theories and philosophy that is pretty entertaining.
DRACULA: PRISONER OF FRANKENSTEIN (1972) – A couple of years ago on a New Year’s Eve, I started watching a Jess Franco film called THE SCREAMING DEAD (probably not the best way to bring in the new year), which was a dupe from an old Wizard Video VHS tape. I was so confused that I figured I must have fallen asleep and promptly watched it again the next morning. Nope…wasn't me...just the way the movie was. Then I discovered that it was released on DVD under the title DRACULA: PRISONER OF FRANKENSTEIN, which I quickly picked up and re-watched it once again! Call me crazy, but I figured that it had to be an uncut version that made sense this time. Not only it is edited differently, had some extra narration, but it still didn’t make sense! With an all star mad monster party, Franco has some wonderful sets and a great cast, but amazingly does nothing with them? Lots of standing around, walking, shots of different buildings, and plenty of zooms and zooming pans. Almost like Franco had just purchased a new camera and was trying it out!
Howard Vernon plays Dracula but just stands (or lies) around with his teeth bared to show his fangs, never saying a word. After he feeds on a hapless victim, he looks like a reject from some drag queen party! Dr. Frankenstein is played by Dennis Price who is trying to gain control over the famous monsters so he could rule the world by having them all do his evil bidding. He has his monster there that was already assembled but just needed some electricity to revive him. The creatures top notch make up job consisted of green face paint and stitches painted on with something like a black magic marker. And all he does in the movie is stumble to the village to kidnap a burlesques dancer to be used to revive Dracula. I'm sure having that little bat in a jar that has red liquid pouring into was completely safe to the little creature, as Dr. Frankenstein is trying to revive Dracula. The wolf man shows up seemingly for no reason other than to fight the big green monster, which I got to say they really worked out really well. Trying to stop all of this is Dr. Seward, played by Edward Dalbes, another regular to Franco's films. But though he stakes Dracula in the very beginning of the film, doesn't really do much else other than show up at the end and take credit for saving the world!
But with all this said and done, for some reason this movie just stuck with me the first time I watched it and even now, after another viewing, I still find it so intriguing that Franco could make this movie with little or no plot, barely any dialog, almost like a bunch of scenes that were shot and then later spliced together with some other movie, trying to assemble some sort of a movie. And it would get released! Lots of head scratching going on with one. And the rest of our T-Day watchers were feeling the pain on this one.
THE LOCH NESS HORROR (1981) – Now let me first preface this by saying that I am a huge fan of Texas low budget filmmaker Larry Buchanan. Sure, his movies are not the best quality, some of them are very hard to even get through, but I think they still have an enduring quality to them. At least to me they do. Maybe it's due to the low budgets that he had to work with, or just not being able to find/afford good quality talent. But no matter what, I have always found his movies to be very memorable. And with all the movies out there in the cinematic world, if they have enough of an impact for you to remember them, for better or for worse, than that is a good thing. I had recently got a copy of this rare title in Larry’s filmography (as well as finding the one-sheet for it!) and knew that I much as I wanted to sit down and watch it, I had to save it for our yearly marathon. And to me, it didn’t disappoint.
The story deals with a few different plots going on at the same time, all around our favorite Scottish aquatic monster, Nessie. You have a young American scientist coming over to Scotland with some new technology to help find out if the old creature really exists. Then you also have some shifty characters that are trying to find something from Nessie to make a quick profit from. And of course, we also have a government cover up that nobody seems to know about except an old Scotsman, who not only rrrrrrrolls every R coming out of his mouth, but also has a telescope that can pretty much see anything plot related, from airplanes in the sky (though looking down on them somehow) to a close up a scuba diver about to hit the water, as if he was 5 feet away. Too funny.
While this might have been a low budget film, we got to give high props to Peter Chesney, the one responsible for creating the title beastie since it is a real beauty. With a working mouth (that even blows smoke for some reason), to being able to work in the water, under the water, and even on dry land (of course, just showing you the neck and head), they did an outstanding job here. With all the bad CGI out there, it is so cool to see something so old school as this, especially when it is done pretty well. This was one of Chesney's first movies, who would go on to work on films like NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3, SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW, LADY IN WHITE, PET SEMATARY, MEN IN BLACK, and quite a few more. So the man obviously had some talent.
So sure the characters are either over the top or just lame, but for me I think it is one of the better made Buchanan films. If you don't agree, check out some of his from the '60s and then get back to me.
FRANKENSTEIN ISLAND (1981) – Like our last movie, I had not seen this one before either, but had heard and read enough about it well before hand to know what I was getting myself and fellow T-Day viewers in for, that it was going to be a rough ride. Sounds like a perfect title for the marathon, right? This was the last movie that filmmaker / hack Jerry Warren completed and seemed like to be his swan song. With an all star cast of John Carradine, Robert Clark, Cameron Mitchell, and a drunken Steve Brodie, you’d think there would be enough action going on to keep one entertained. Not really sure why (other than being in a Warren movie) but it just seemed like the actors really didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing most of the time. Brodie was unintentionally hilarious with his loud laughing every single time he came on and left the screen, though who knows if that was in the script or was alcohol induced like a lot of his performance were. Clark tries hard to play it completely straight but the script just isn't helping. Carradine, who only shows in some sort of holographic projection a couple of times during the film, gives a performance that rates right up there with Lugosi in Wood’s GLEN OR GLENDA. Mitchell, who I love no matter how bad the film might be, plays a delirious prisoner who sits in his jail cell quoting Edgar Allan Poe from time to time. Classic.
The basic plot has four guys get stranded on an island from a hot air balloon, where they find it is inhabited by tiger-bikini-clad girls that are apparently aliens. Then there is the wife of Dr. Frankenstein who is married to a Von Helsing (!?!?!?), a Howard Hughes looking character who just happens to be 200 years old! They are doing experiments on the locals, trying to keep Von Helsing alive even longer. There are some half-wit creatures, most likely failed experiments, roaming around, not to mention something to do with paralyzing limbs, and an epic fight scene that the end that is one of the highlights of the picture, where shortly before Frankenstein's creature appears from the water to join in the fun. He must have recently watched Lugosi's performance of the creature from FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN since he is thrashing his arms around like he's blind, though we're not really sure if he is or not. Of course, the epilogue totally looks like was added on just to pan out the running and makes no real sense the movie.
Now I'm all for a good cheesy and crazy monster movie. But this one....believe it or not just seemed too flat and like they really didn't have a clue of what they were doing with a plot or story. Plus, the other non-speaking roles of the cast were probably not the most experienced actors around. Granted, I know this is a Jerry Warren film and am well aware of his cinematic talents, but I'm just not sure if I want to visit this island again.
BLACK ROSES (1988) – This is another one that I had avoided over the years because of how bad it was supposed to be. I remember seeing the poster when it first came out and really thought it looked cool, but was told over and over that the poster was the best thing about the movie. So I never got to it. Until now. I figured screening here for the marathon would not only finally check it off my list, but it fit perfectly into the lineup. Back in 2009, we had screened ROCK & ROLL NIGHTMARE, from the same director, John Fasano, so I figured this would make a good entry in this year's line up.
I have to say, which might have something to do with the last movie that we just finished, but this was one pretty entertaining, and no way near as bad as I had been hearing over the years. Sure, it's cheesy and very dated, but at least there is some action and some interesting death scenes, not to mention some heavy metal music, also cheesy and dated, throughout the movie! But one of the highlights for me was the creatures in the movie. Great to see some good old fashion rubber monsters running about. They were created by a team of talented people, some that went on to work on some bigger budgeted films, like Richard Alonzo, who has worked on titles like IRON MAN, OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, and THOR: THE DARK WORLD. And of course, John Dods also worked on the creature effects. He did go on to work on some bigger films like GHOSTBUSTER 2 and POLTERGUEIST III, but I'll always remember him for his incredible work on THE DEADLY SPAWN! Watching these monsters running about taking people, seeing the actors having to act against these rubber puppets and animatronic figures really brought back some good memories of years before CGI. nd I have to say...I kind of miss those days.
BLACK ROSES is about an occult metal bad coming to a small town for their first ever live performance for a series of shows at the local high school. Of course some of the parents and social groups (lead by Julie Adams of CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON fame) are all worried the band is going to lead their children to hell with their music. Ironically enough, that is exactly what the band’s plan is! With each show, they start to take control of the kids, with one of the high school teachers trying to stop it. They had real metal bands supplying some of the music, such as Bang Tango and Lizzy Borden, as well as the rest written by Carmen Appice, who also appears in the band Black Roses. Appice was/is a staple in the metal industry, playing with a huge number of different bands over the years. The music the band is playing didn't really fit the evil image of the band, then again, back then it rarely ever did back in the '80s hair-band days. At a time when the whole heavy metal wave was coming through and all the "Satanic Panic" in the news, it was a pretty topical idea for a movie, which was exploited nicely here. For me, it was interesting to see the crowd at this “evil” heavy metal show, since the way the kids were dressed here would have never made it at a real metal show in the ‘80s. Just saying.
But the bottom line is that this movie gets a bad rap and is not as terrible as you would be lead to believe. Cheesy? Yes. But it still a lot of fun and will definitely get a chuckle or two, especially if you're an old metal head like myself.
THE VISITOR (1979) – I thought that I had seen this movie back in the day, but if I did, I have no recollection of it. And after watching it this time, I know if I had seen it, I would have remembered it. Not because it was great, but because it was truly one of the most W-T-F movies I have ever seen. Very surreal sequences, almost like you’d expect some Pink Floyd to kick in at any minute, but with very little explanation of what is going on. Of course, one of the best parts of the movie is this bit of theme music that pops on throughout the whole movie, sometimes at the strangest moments. It is a real heroes theme and is used so much that it becomes just damn funny.
With an all star cast featuring John Huston, Lance Henriksen, Glenn Ford, Shelly Winters, and even Sam Peckinpah, it has aliens trying to intervene with the human race, fighting a battle between good and evil. The evil, which has been spawned into an 8 year old girl, does some pretty outrageous stuff, including ‘accidently’ shooting her mom in the back at her birthday party. There's strange sequences like the little girl ice skating, being chased for some reason by other older boys on the ice and making them fall and crash into the side of the rink. All the while John Huston is coming down a huge flight of stairs, over and over and over again. We have something going on with birds...a lot of birds. Not sure if they are suppose to be working of the sign of evil or good or both, but we see enough of them to confuse the hell out of me!
Directed and co-written by Michael J. Paradise (pronounced Giulio Paradisi), and co-written and produced by Ovidio G. Assonitis, the man responsible for TENTACLES and BEYOND THE DOOR, not to mention PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING, they really give us a mind-fuck with this one. Filled with fancy lights, shots of outer space and stars, and lots of characters standing around looking as if they knew what was going on. But I have a feeling if if they read the complete script, they still wouldn't know. It always amazed me how Assonitis could get the names that he did for his movies. THE VISITOR is just so strange and out there, with events happening that really don't make sense, especially the trippy beginning with Franco Nero looking like Jesus, telling a story to a bunch of bald children about the eternal battle between good and evil.
So the bottom line for this one is that it really needs to be seen. It has been making the rounds at the art house theaters now with a brand new poster (the one to the left is the original one) that makes it seem that it really is trying to make it out to be something more artsy than it really is. Not sure if I'm really buying it or not myself. But no matter what, it is worth seeing, just to see if you might be able to figure out what they were really trying to do.
KING KONG ESCAPES (1967) – Our last film of the marathon, was switched out at the last minute. Originally we planned to have THE CREEPING TERROR playing last, but due to a possibly mutiny, it was decided for the betterment of us all, that we choose something else. So while this one doesn’t really qualify as a turkey by the IMDB standards, it would be one in my rating. But I have to say that out of all the movies screened today, this was a great one to end on since it is so cheesy but so damn fun and entertaining. Plus, nobody else besides me had seen it before, as Neil put it, "I'm always up for some Kaiju!" So it was settled.
Produced by Rankin and Bass, known for their kids stop animation shows, this has the mighty King Kong battling it out with Mecha-Kong, all because the notorious Dr. Who (no, not the time travelling one) is trying to dig out some 'element X' to sell to any foreign government willing to pay him for it, which they could then use to win the nuclear arms race. Of course, the guys from the UN won’t have any of that going on. When Dr. Who's mechanical Kong fails to dig out the rare element, he decides to capture the original Kong and have him do it. Granted, Kong has to be able to hypnotize him to get him to do it, but how hard could that be? Dr. Who, played by Hideyo Amamoto, does a great job playing one of those mastermind criminals from that era. These guys are always so sure of themselves, but always set themselves up to fail! Damn funny.
While the costumes for Kong and Mecha-Kong are pretty laughable, I have always had a lot of admiration for the people that build all the miniatures and sets that these “giant” creatures are going to walk around in and destroy. Lot of details goes into some of the smallest pieces. From the giant submarines that is in the shots with Kong, to even the little hover-craft used to get to the shore is just great. So major kudos to them. Not to mention the actors for being able to keep a straight face while giving their all when acting to a guy in a cheesy gorilla suit.
So another Turkey Day marathon comes to an end. Thanks to everyone that came out for the event, as well as stayed as long as they could. I know some lesser fans would have jumped ship early in the lineup, so it shows how dedicated these guys are. And I commend them for that. But have no fear...since we will be starting to gather some different titles for next year.
For our 12th Annual Turkey Day Marathon, we had a record number of 13 crazy movie fans that came out this year to celebrate this crazy tradition that I started back in 2003. We had both regulars and a few T-day virgins this year, but I'm sure those will even be back next year. We got through another 7 movies this time, which I think is becoming the standard now. Plus, I think this event really showed what Turkey Day is all about. Yes, it is about watching and enjoying movies that your normal movie scholars would turn their nose up in disgust, but it is much more and this year really put the spotlight on those reasons. Besides the movies, it is about community. It is about a group of individuals of all ages, assembled together to watch some enjoyable 'bad' movies. The laughing going on throughout the day showed that we all had that same connection when it comes to these kind of movies and knew that it really is about having a good time with them with other like-minded film fans. Hearing the roars of laughter coming from everyone throughout the day reminded me of this each and every time, as well as the looks of "what did I just see?" that make these events so enjoyable.
This year our T-Day regulars that made it were Joe Wallace, Jason Coffman, Neil Calderone, Brian Fukula, Craig Clark, and Aaron Christensen, who was making this his 10th year coming. Putrid himself, Matt Carr made a glorious return after his last appearance back in 2009. Our T-Day Virgins were Sharon Gissy, and my son's Nick's friends Austin Robinson, Max Nolan & Charlie Morrison. Nick was there as well, when he wasn't helping his mother in the kitchen creating one of the 17 pizzas we devoured throughout the day, which included breakfast pizzas, veggie pizzas, crab rangoon pizza, a spaghetti & meatball pizza (affectionately named the Drunken Billy) and a chili dog pizza, which was my favorite of the day. Major kudos as usual going out to my wife Dawn who created all of these (with Nick's help) and always kept us wondering what was going to be next. It wouldn't be a T-Day event without her and the glorious food that she creates for us. Okay...lets get to the movies!
THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE (1959) - As usual, I try to start off with an older film and grabbing one from the '50s usually leads to a fun time, especially when the scientific jargon starts flying. I had came across this movie after reading Mark Thomas McGee's book You Won't Believe Your Eyes, which covered movies from the '50s. This is a film I wouldn't have not sought out otherwise since the title made it sound like some underwater adventure film. Which it is, but so much more.
Something is taking out ships in the Arctic Seas near the north pole, so the military sends the specially equipped Tiger Shark nuclear submarine to find what is causing it and to eliminate it. But once they discover what exactly it is, it is nothing they were expecting. On board the submarine are a couple of scientist, both foreign, that try to hypothesize what exactly they are up against, with all sorts of fun and interesting "science talk", which is one of the things that make these '50s films so enjoyable. Ton Conway plays one of the scientist, who might be familiar to those who watch a lot of these older movies, such as BRIDE OF THE GORILLA (1951), THE SHE-CREATURE (1956), and VOODOO WOMAN (1957), and always give entertaining performance. Also on board is Brett Halsey who has helped designed a diving bell with his father, who was too sick to come himself. So Halsey has to come, who's past exploits of a 'peace-monger' doesn't bode well with some of the crew, which then means hilarity ensues for us viewers due to some of the dialog they have. Great stuff.
Once they find this creature responsible, I have to give the special effects guys credit because it is a memorable one, being well designed and very effective. Also when a couple of the crew meet a grisly end, those effects are also well done and had to be pretty scary to the youngsters in the theater upon its initial release. If you're a fan of the 50s sci-fi stuff, then definitely add this to your To-Watch list. I guarantee you'll have fun with it.
'IT'S ALIVE' (1969) - Now I usually try to throw in a real doozy of a film to really put our viewers to the test. I mean, this is Turkey Day, right? The last few years, I've programmed at Larry Buchanan title in the lineup and did it again this year. Except this time, I don't think it was too well received. Granted, I still am a huge fan of Buchanan and his work and still love this title. Sure, not a lot happens throughout the movie. Sure, there is a flashback sequence that last for 20 minutes (and you feel every minute of it too) that has NO DIALOGUE and with just a bit of narration in there. But you did get some amazing lines like "There is a legend in these hills that when it rains and the sun shines at the same time, the devil is kissing his wife." How can you beat dialogue like that?
The story is about a married couple that are traveling through the Ozarks on their vacation, though the husband never lets a moment go by when he can't blame his wife for all of their problems. They are low on gas and get lost, coming across Assistant Professor of Paleontology Tommy Kirk who is out doing whatever paleontologist do. Next thing you know, they all are being held captive by crazy Billy Thurman who has a sort of roadside animal attraction. But his greatest discover is some sort of prehistoric sea monster that lives down in the caves, that he feeds unwanted guests to. One of the reasons I really like this Buchanan title so much is that Thurman really gets to go over the top with this role, with his wild maniacal laughs, is just so much fun to watch.
This was the last made-for-TV movie that Buchanan made for AIP for their television outlet. The movie also features the exact same creature costume used in Buchanan's remake of THE SHE-CREATURE, which he titled CREATURE OF DESTRUCTION.
AMOK TRAIN (1989) - I was honestly amazed that most of our audience this time out had not seen this title before. Boy were they in for a treat. Directed by Jeff Kwitny but produced by Ovidio G. Assonitis, who gave us some previous T-Day entries, like last year's THE VISITOR, which he produced, or TENTACLES, which he directed and we screened way back in 2006. He is also directed BEYOND THE DOOR. Which is exactly why the American title of AMOK TRAIN was called BEYOND THE DOOR III. It has NOTHING to do with either of those movies, but I'm sure it helped get some more video rentals. While Assonitis hasn't made any films that I would consider actual well made classic films, I will say that the ones that he is involved in are generally entertaining, even if in a T-Day sort of way. I mean, he is the one that is more responsible for PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING, way more than James Cameron.
The film stars Bo Svenson as a professor who meets a class from the states who have come to Serbia to witness some ancient ritual. Little do they know that evil things are a foot! The rest of the cast is filled out with actors that have done very little work, for obvious reasons. Once they board the train from the title is when things really get crazy. But even before then, we've already witnessed some strange and interesting things from the locals that seem to wander around knocking rocks together, or some crazy old witch that really gives it all in her performance.
There really are two reasons to watch this movie. The plot is so crazy and stuff happens that will make you wonder if you just witnessed what you think you saw. Just when you thought you've seen just about everything in a movie, this something will come out of nowhere and blow your mind. Of all the movies we screened this Turkey Day, this one got the most reaction from the crowd. With loud bouts of roaring laugher, this is the kind of film that really epitomizes what Turkey Day is all about and why it is best to do these with other like minded film fans. Sitting watching this by yourself, while still entertaining, just won't have that same effect as it does with a crowd. The second reason is the special make up effects. Even though this is being filmed in I believe Serbia, the effects are incredible. Plenty of blood and goo flying about here. Gorehounds will not be disappointed.
BLOODSTALKERS (1978) - It would be very hard to top that last film, so we went with something a little more slower...more suspenseful to calm down the crowd. This low budget horror film, shot in Florida, might not be a great film, but I think it is still a well made film and pretty effective in some parts. The main reason this title came to my mind is that a few months ago, interviewed Doug Hobart and he did the special effects on this, including the scene that they used for the box art. How's that for getting the potential viewers attention?
Two couples travel down to Florida to spend some time in cabin that Mike has recently inherited. He hasn't been there since he was a child but wants to go back for some laid back fun and relaxation. But even before they find the place, they are not met with the most friendliest of welcomes. In fact, they are told flat out to turn around and go back from where they came. They are also told of some kind of monster that lives in the area called Bloodstalkers, that have been known to kill people wandering around. Mike, an ex-vet, is not scared off by these warnings, and in fact is more determined to get to their original destination. But they later find out just what the cranky old hillbilly at the gas station was talking about.
It doesn't take long for all of our T-Day attendees wish that the character Daniel, played by Kenny Miller, would die. Like...very soon...as in right now. He is annoying, whining, and just an pain in the ass. But the rest of the cast are fine. It does take quite a while for things to really start to happen, but I think the ending does have a good payoff. Shame that it just takes too long to get there.
But as a T-Day movie, there are plenty of scenes that have our viewers scratching their heads, including a very long sequence were Mike is trying to get help from some of the locals, including someone from a local church. During the whole conversation that we don't hear, there is a church choir belting out a church song. Not sure if they just had some problems with their audio or what, but it is one of those sequences that makes you wonder.
RAW FORCE (1982) - Once everyone was calmed down a bit, we decided to go right back up with one of wackiest films I've seen. I had plans of screening this at T-Day after hearing some crazy things about it and picked up a DVD-R at a convention. But the quality was so bad it really was unwatchable. So it was scratched off the list. But thanks to the wonderful people at Vinegar Syndrome, who released this in an amazing looking blu-ray, it was back on the list. I mean, how could this not be the perfect movie for T-Day when it has martial arts, cannibal monks, zombie kung-fu fighters, and Cameron Mitchell and Vic Diaz!?!?! Throw in some gore and nudity and some terrible comedy, and you have RAW FORCE.
Directed by Edward Murphy, who some cult fans might remembers as the boat captain in MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND, RAW FORCE is about a group of martial artists that want to travel to a famous island where famous fighters are buried. But the film also has some guy with a Hitler mustache that we think is operating a female slave trade with a bunch of strange monks on the island, lead by Diaz. But as we found out later, they tend to use these women not for a sex trade, but for food! Apparently by eating them is how they get the power to raise the dead!
Cult favorite Cameron Mitchell is the captain of the ship that where most of the action takes place that seems to be a real party love boat with a lot of shenanigans going on. Jewel Sheppard and Camille Keaton both have little cameos as well.
This film really is like nothing you've ever seen before with some outrageous dialogue, great cheesy martial arts action and cannibalistic monks! What more could you ask for? Major kudos to Vinegar Syndrome for not only putting out an amazing looking disc, but for taking a title that mainstream audiences wouldn't even think twice about, but showing the care and love for this kind film for us deviant film fans. Keep up the great work!
THE BRAIN (1988) - Here's another title that is just screaming to be released on DVD but for some reason is becoming lost with the hundreds of other titles that have not been resurrected on DVD yet. Made in a time way before CGI, when rubber and gooey monsters ruled the video store shelves, and we horror fans just ate it up with big smiles on our faces.
A scientist running a local mental research clinic, who also just happens to have a TV show, is slowly brainwashing his audience. The signal that is getting sent out is causing people to come under his control. Of course, he is just a tool for the real monster here...a large brain that is growing larger and larger, every time it feeds on someone. In fact, as it starts to grow after one feeding, a large face pops out, with a huge mouth filled with teeth! You'll be in '80s rubber monster heaven with this one!
Starring David Gale, from RE-ANIMATOR fame, he once again just slides into this evil character and plays it with so much fun that it is a damn shame he wasn't around to make more of these. We also have to give credit to George Buza, who plays one of Gale's assistants. Buza is not a small man and not meaning he's tall. But we were all amazed at the amount of running around this guy does throughout the movie. I'm talking going up and down stairs, full on sprints, chasing this delinquent teenager who is trying to get someone to believe that he's not crazy. We were waiting for Buza to grab his chest and collapse at any moment, but then he would just take off running again!
Of course, the real highpoint of this movie is the title character. As I mentioned before, there is something really special about a big old rubber monster and this one is a beauty. With a flaying spinal cord, somehow moving through the air, looking for its next victim to eat, it is one monster that is hard to forget. It really is a damn shame we can't go back to those days when people were creative and talented, even though working with low budgets, they could still turn out something that remains entertaining even today.
Now if we could just get it released in a nice and clean blu-ray....
IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD (1982) - Our last film is really like a 'best of' for T-Day, and is the first place that I seen clips from some of these incredible movies, like THE GIANT CLAW, FROM HELL IT CAME, and countless other classics that are perfect for any T-Day event. When I worked at the theater as a kid, we actually played this there. There were many times I was in the back of theater, either laughing out loud or just in awe at some of the things that were actually made and released into the theaters. Great stuff. They cover everything from Ed Wood, invaders from space, giant monsters, juvenile delinquent movies and more.
Plus, this was years before MST3K, so the whole notion of making jokes over the movies was very fresh, and with the talents of Cheech & Chong, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, and Gilda Radner, it made these even funnier. To this day, I still remember some of their comments about the movies they are showing, such as when Radner calls the monster from THE FIRST MAN INTO SPACE the 'burnt casserole man". Great stuff.
Not only are these clips fun to watch with the comments they are making, it is also a great way to make your own checklist of movies to find for your own personal viewing. Thankfully, they list all the movies at the end during the credits, so it makes it a little easier to try and figure out the ones that you're looking for. This is the kind of movie that is perfect for can find the enjoyment and entertainment is some of films that most critics would turn their noses at. But people like us, real fans of the obscure and the crazy, this is right up our alley.
So once again, another year, another 7 fine examples of why calling something "bad movie" doesn't mean it isn't going to be entertaining. With the amount of fun that was had at this year's marathon, with all the loud screaming laughter, I think we proved to people that these kind of movies, no matter what their intent was when they were making them, that they can still be a lot of fun to watch. So to me, they may be Turkeys, but they are not bad movies.
See you next year.