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 Saucer Men. 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.