Turkey Day 2010

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!

tfy5000Terror 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.

reptilicusReptilicus (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.

TheDayTimeEnded1980The 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.

MonsterDogMonster 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.

fatalframesFatal 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.

fiendFiend (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.

gardenofthedeadGarden 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.  pending time with great friends, watching movies and just having a good time. All is right with the world once again. See you next year.

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