Turkey Day 2011

t-day2011-1Welcome 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_blood_beast_01Night 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.

swampcreatureCurse of the Swamp Creature (1966) – Our next film was our Larry Buchanan entry for this year.  It had been a couple of years since a Buchanan film played so I thought we were overdue.  John Agar was back to make another film with Buchanan, right after making ZONTAR.  He must have had such a great time.  And you can tell too by watching him in this film, standing completely still and emotionless for minutes at a time, like he is still trying to figure out just how the hell is got signed up for this picture.

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 the film.

xfromouterspaceThe X from Outer Space (1967)  – Next up, we brought out something a little different.  So different in fact, we had to go old school and actually play the movie on one of those antique contraptions called a V-C-R.  Remember those kiddies?  Appearing for the first time in our Turkey Day menus, we busted out a Kaiju movie.  And not one of those staring the Big G or that fiery turtle, but this little known title that stars Guilala as the title creature that comes back from a space mission and promptly starts to destroy the city.

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.

mtctwThe Monster that Challenged the World 1957) – Now this next film, I know I personally would never consider a Turkey movie.  Even the IMDB doesn’t qualify it as such.  But we figured we needed something of a little more substance to cleanse our pallets from what we’ve ingested thus far.  MONSTER is a great ’50s sci-fi monster movies.  After an earthquake, a fissure in the ocean floor opens up and these giant mollusks escape into the ocean.  When a paratrooper doesn’t return from a mission, the navy starts to investigate.  But as they try to figure out what is going on, more people are attack and turn up missing around the area.

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. 

horrorbloodmonsterHorror of the Blood Monsters (1970) – Now this little piece of cinematic gold is just a sight to behold.  Sure, it has a rating of 2.2 on the IMDB, but what the hell do they know.  But what I find brilliant about this movie is not the film itself, but what director Al Adamson did to create this classic.  He acquired the rights to a black and white movie from the Philippines called TAGANI, which featured a bunch of vampire people with huge fangs, as well as some lobstermen lurking around in the water.  Here where the genius that was Al Adamson comes into play.  He knew that the ticket buying audience that he was selling to the drive-ins wouldn’t sit still for a black and white film.  So he came up with the idea that he would shoot some new footage around some of the scenes from TAGANI to make one complete story.  And for the black and white footage, he tinted the prints different colors, like red, blue, or orange, and then call the process “Spectrum – X”.  It was even explained in the movie why the color tint would change!  GENIUS!

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 sell.

killingsatanThe Killing of Satan (1983) – Our next film is another Filipino title, but one that is a little more current….well, from the early ’80s.  This is definitely a great entry for the marathon.  We have some sort of mysticism going on with both black and white magic, that really is some far out stuff.  We have the Prince of Magic, who is the right hand man to Satan himself, who is terrorizing a local village.  When the local head good magician is almost defected by the Prince of Magic, a prayer is spoken (apparently for a few days) to get the next in line for his job, even though he doesn’t realize it.  Once Lando, our hero, arrives, the Prince kidnaps his daughter to become the bride of Satan.  While defeated at first, Lando quickly learns about his new powers and what he must do to defeat this evil.  There are no punches pulled on these epic battles, from shooting lasers out of their hands, to making oneself become bullet proof, it is amazing what talents you might learn you have but never knew about.  Only in the Philipines.

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.

astralThe Astral Fiend (1976) – This film was picked up just a short time ago at Frys Electronics for only $4.  And even better, it was a double feature with THE BRAIN MACHINE staring James Best.  I’m sure that one will show up in a future Turkey Day marathon.  Plus, ASTRAL had an all star cast with Robert Foxworth, Stephanie Powers, Elke Sommer, and Sue Lyon.  How could it be bad, right?  Well, the sight of Powers’ naked butt would have been a highlight, had it not be preceded by a shot of Foxworth’s naked behind!

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!

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