Not sure what happend to make me get this report posted, but here it is, better late than never. In was in May of last year when we started to have our 2nd Turkey Day event, appropriately called Turkey Day in May. Basically we realized that there was just too much turkey for a single event. So Turkey Day in May began. And this last May, we continue that tradition, with a fine gathering of like-minded (sometimes called crazy) film enthusiasts to test our will and spirits against some of cinemas lesser quality films. But, while some of these films might not rate high on anybody’s grading system, we were all entertained by these titles. So while some of these might not be too high on anyone’s grading scale, we had a lot of fun with it.
Joining the party this May was our regular cast of characters. Aaron Christensen, my faithful co-pilot, was there of course, along with T-Day regulars Jason Coffman and Neil Calderone. Joe Wallace and Bryan Martinez were there for the first few movies before having to leave. My son Nick joined in as well, but since he had just finished working on 3rd shift, he only made it through the first film before crashing. But once again, we were able to scratch off another seven titles off the ever growing list of Turkey Day titles. So let the feasting begin!
The Alligator People (1959) – This little black and white treat stars Beverly Garland, who was always guaranteed to give it all in her performances, even if she was battling an alien invader from Venus, like she did in Roger Corman’s It Conquered the World. But this time, the terror is a little closer to home. She plays a recently married woman whose husband suddenly and with no explanation, leaves the train they are on coming back from their wedding. She spends the next few years trying to locate him when she ends up in the bayou after she discovered an old address of his. But what she finds is nothing like she expected.
There are two real treats in this picture. The first is the obvious title creatures, which the film does payoff and give us just what it says! Legendary makeup artist Dick Smith is credited to have worked on the film, along with Ben Nye. But the other highlight is the performance given by Lon Chaney Jr., who plays a drunken handyman named Manon, who just happens to have a hook for a left hand, apparently lost to an alligator. Then again, not sure if he is playing a drunken character or was just…himself. But either way, he is always a treat to see on the screen and this isn’t any different. Hearing him shouting into the night “I’ll kill you alligator man!” is a highlight of the film.
There are several scenes with Garland wandering through the swamps with live alligators just roaming around. Now granted, you can clearly see their mouths have been taped shut, but you still have to give her credit for doing it anyway.
Bigfoot (1970) – Now a Bigfoot movie that has a bunch of bikers and large breasted woman, that also stars John Carradine, I figured we’d be in for one hell of a movie, especially if you’re looking at the amazing movie poster! Well….80+ minutes later, we were still waiting for that movie to start! Apparently there’s a bunch of bigfoot creatures living up in the mountains, and an even bigger Bigfoot around there too. John Carradine plays a traveling junk peddler that hooks up with biker Christopher Mitchum to look for his kidnapped girlfriend. They try to convince the local police that there is something strange going on in those mountains, only to be told that they get a lot of these kind of reports of people missing there, but don’t intend to do anything about it because they think it is all a bunch of pranks. Good work, Mr. Policeman.
This has a rating of 2.2 on IMDB and there is plenty of reason for it. Mainly because nothing really happens. We have some footage of bikers tooling around. We get to hear some of the most drab conversation between Carradine and his partner about nothing. Then there are these little bits at the local store that make you wonder why they are even in the movie. But again, just because this was the third and final film by director Robert F. Slatzer, we give him the respect he deserves by getting this done. Sure, the poster art is much more entertaining to look at than the movie, but we’re professionals here, so we can handle these kind of films.
Believe it or not, there are quite a few bigfoot movies out there in the horror and exploitation genre. Most of them are….shall we say “not that well received”. This is one of them.
Rape (1976) – I stumbled across this title many years ago while on a VHS buying trip into Chicago, hitting the little mom & pop video stores. I came across this big clamshell box with an illustrated woman in a towell with her hand out, with just the word ‘Rape’ sprawled out in big letters at the bottom. Since I was looking for titles to resell, I knew this one would do just that. So I bought it. Of course, before selling off, I made a copy of it for my own collection. And now, after many years, I busted it out to watch at this event.
The original title of the film is Desnuda Inquietud, which translates to “Nude Concern“. Good luck trying to figure that one out. But it does star German born actress Nadiuska, who appeared in a few Spanish horror films, such as The People Who Own the Dark, as well as playing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mother in Conan the Barbarian. Here, she plays a strange young woman who the locals claim she has special powers. Two men travel to Spain to find her after a friend of theirs died after being there with her. Of course, once they find her, one of the men starts to fall in love with her.
Now the title sort of comes into play when the woman’s father tries to put the moves on her, but he is quickly dealt with by some supernatural forces, so I guess you could say it’s not a completely made up exploitative title, right? None the less, the film is a strange one, filled with some not intentional humorous lines of dialogue that had us all laughing out loud several times.
Great Alligator (1979) – Italian director Sergio Martino made more than his share of films, most of them being giallos, and most of them being pretty damn good. But this one…well, let’s just say that we all have our off days. Of course, while this might not be up to the same standards as some of his other titles, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun ride, right?
It wasn’t unusual for the Italians to take notice of what was making big money in the states and do their own take on the subject. So this looks like it was Martino’s film inspired a bit by Spielberg’s Jaws. We have a resort that the owner/operator Mel Ferrer doesn’t care about the stories about an alligator that may or may not be eating some of the locals. As long as it doesn’t interrupt his plans for opening his new place of business. Claudio Cassinelli plays the hero, a photographer hired just to take shots to make the place look appealing for the tourist trade. But when he falls in love with Ferrer’s assistant, played by the lovely Barbara Bach, he feels it is his job to save her, as well as everyone else, especially when the title creature starts to munch down on them!
The film also has small roles for a few faces to those that are fond of Italian horror flicks, such as Bobby Rhodes, looking quite different than the tough as nail pimp in Demons. Or little Silvia Collatina, who in a few years would take residence in Fulci’s House by the Cemetery. But my favorite little cameo is that of Richard Johnson, playing a crazy hermit priest who lives in a cave in the mountains. He is in only one little sequence, but you can tell he is having a lot of fun with his character. Fun stuff here, people.
The underwater shots of the alligator, which looks like a rubber toy (then again you never know what they were using back then) is just a treat when it comes on screen. The shots of the larger creature attacking the locals is kept to very quick shots to keep us from getting a really good look at it. Not a lot of gore here, mainly just blood floating up in the water afterwards, so in that aspect, it is kind of disappointing, especially coming from Italy. We were really hoping for some good old fashion over-the-top Italian gore here, but we were left high and dry. None the less, helped by a great boogie-woogie score, this was a nice addition to this year’s lineup.
Demon Witch Child (1975) – Also known as The Possessed, this was one of Amando de Ossorio’s later films, made the same year as his last entry in his Blind Dead series, and was obviously made to tie in with the recent success of The Exorcist. Granted, do Ossorio didn’t make a straight up rip-off, but just kept the element of a possessed child, some swearing and levitating, but that was about it. Here, a young girl is possessed by the spirit of an old witch, who is determined to get revenge on the people in the village after her death.
The cast has several familiar faces from the Spanish horror genre. Lone Fleming, who plays the governess over the child, had appeared in two of de Ossorio’s Templar movies, Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972) and Return of the Evil Dead (1973), as well as films like It Happened at Nightmare Inn (1973). Julia Saly plays the maid where the girl lives, and has appeared in a ton of genre titles, many of them with Paul Naschy, such as Night of the Werewolf, Panic Beats, as well as in de Ossoiro’s last Blind Dead film, Night of the Seagulls (1975).
There is a enough great stuff going on here to keep your attention, especially if you’re a fan of Spanish horror. Lots of crazy stuff, cheesy effects, and just a good time.
Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor (1990) – One of the elements I look for when getting a lineup of films for Turkey Day is having one with some great old fashion rubber monsters from the ’80s or ’90s, back before CGI took over and we could really see the skill and labor involved in the process. Sure, the acting might not be great, or even the story, but if we can have a great gooey monster that is really there in front of the actors, then we’re all for it. And this movie delivers in spades.
It had been a couple of decades since I’d last seen this movie, most likely when it first hit VHS back in the early ’90s when it came out. So I had forgotten just how fun this movie was. But seeing it with our Turkey Day Attendees, you would have thought we were watching Citizen Kane! So many cheers of joy and laughter throughout this 90 minutes. And yes, we even have some old fashion stop-motion animation!
This was rumored to be, or start to be, a sequel to the 1983 film Deadly Spawn, but not entirely sure of that. It does have some of the same people involved, such as producer Ted A. Bohus, still not sure of the exact details. And if it is a sequel, there is no reference to the first film at all. The only possible connection would be there is some alien DNA that is not explained where it originated. But besides all of that, the plot is basically a group of people are trapped in this building while this huge killer creature is on the loose. How we got to this point is told in flashbacks, where we get to see some incredible special makeup effects, the old fashion way, and they are a hoot. Why this movie hasn’t gotten a special multi-disc blu-ray release is beyond me.
Alien 2: On Earth (1980) – Our last film of the day, and boy was this not the right title to end with! I had known it was a slow one, but had forgotten just how slow it was. The only connection this has with the Scott film is in the title and there is something to do with a space mission landing back on earth, possibly something come back with them. Other than that….not a clue. But then again, that wouldn’t be the first time the Italians were…inspired by an American film. To say that not much happens in this movie would be an understatement. And just when you think the film couldn’t slow down any more, our main cast of characters so spelunking! For those that don’t know what spelunking is, it is when you go exploring underground caves and caverns. Boy…can you feel the excitement?
There is a lot of time spent rock climbing….or really rock descending. And waiting for something to happen. But then when it does, it still doesn’t speed up the action by much. It seems there are these rocks all over the place that have some sort of alien being living inside them…kind of like eggs. Wonder where that idea came from? But when one of them comes out and attacks one of the cave dwellers, at least we get to see a little bit of gore. But there is one sequence, where we have the camera do a slow pan across a body laying on the ground. This shot redefines slow since it literally takes over two minutes to pan across this corpse. In fact, it was actually two minutes and eighteen seconds! If you don’t think that seems long, try starring at one thing for over two minutes….seems like days! And it did while watching this last title in our marathon.
There really isn’t a lot of explanation going on here, so if you do decide to tackle it, don’t expect a lot of story, but more like a lot of head scratching! You could also look for a small role for actor Michele Soavi, years before he directed his first picture, Stagefright (1987).
So another successful marathon….7 movies down in the history books. Until November…when we do it all over again!