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!
Missle 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.