Turkey Day 2017

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Fifteen years. I can’t even fathom the idea that for the last one and a half decades, I’ve been spending my Black Friday sitting in front of my TV watching some of the finest is cinematic shipwrecks. But even better, for most of those years, I have been watching them with some great friends, which makes the experience even better. Including this year’s titles, we’ve “experience” over a hundred titles in those fifteen years. And I do mean “experience”, because some titles it is so much more than just watching. Sitting there with a bunch of like minded crazy cinephiles, really does make it an “experience”. This year, there was moments when the laughing was so loud and hard, that I actually feared for some of the sanity in the room!

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For our 15th Annual Turkey Day Marathon, I wanted to do something special to mark this milestone. “Go Big or Go Home”, as they say! Earlier this year, for our Turkey Day in May, I tried to get a cake with some Blood Freak artwork from our friend (and talented artist) Don England printed out on the cake. In case you’re not familiar with the 1972 film Blood Freak, it really is the ultimate Turkey Day movie. But the place where I ordered the cake screwed it up and it didn’t happen. So for this year, I thought we should take that same idea, but make it even better. Years ago, when I had my Drive-in birthday parties, my wife Dawn would make these incredible themed cakes, like a ZAAT vs Sting of Death and a Pieces and Slugs double feature. So I told her for Turkey Day, I wanted a Blood Freak cake…but instead of a printed picture of the turkey head from the movie, I wanted a three dimensional head sitting on top of the cake, in a pool of blood and feathers! And as always, she came through in spades! It never ceases to amaze me the range of her talents. Sculpting it out of rice krispies and covering it with fondant, she made what I believe is the world’s first ever and only Blood Freak cake! I can’t express not only how impressed I was with this, but also how proud I am of my multi-talented wife.

Also, since this was our 15th year doing it, I wanted to do something really special…and get some shirts made. I’ve been kicking around this idea for a few years, but finally decided this was the time to do it. Taking his own artwork,  Don England designed the layout, with the saying that I came up with years ago for whenever I got around to getting the shirts done. So many thanks to Don, as well as Steve Bejma for getting the actual shirts printed up and sent off to us in time for the event. They turned out great.

I think we set a new record in the number of attendance this year. It was a little crowded at times, but I don’t think that stopped anyone from having a good time. Our T-Day regulars were: Aaron Christensen, Jason Coffman, Joe Wallace, Sharon Gissy, Bryan Martinez, Brian Fukala, and making his 2nd T-Day event, Tim Palace. Making their T-Day debut, who traveled many hours to the Krypt to make it, was Gregg Olheiser, Chris Kuchta, and John Pata. It always amazes people will travel that much just to watch some cheesy movies. Some of my son’s friends, Andrew and Max showed up for a few flicks as well, and I honestly don’t think they’ll be the same again. But as we all know, it is much more than that. Sure, it might have something to do with the pizzas that my wife Dawn and Nick are cranking out in the kitchen throughout the day. In fact, sometimes I wonder if that isn’t the real reason….

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Speaking of pizzas, we devoured over 25 pizzas throughout the day. From the breakfast pizzas, to chili dog pizzas, Crab Rangoon, jalapeno poppers, spinach & artichoke, paneer tikka masala, mac n cheese, Nutella and marshmallows, and of course, the Drunken Billy (spaghetti pizza), it was a non-stop gluttony of both food and movies. Once again, I can’t give enough thanks to my family Nick and Dawn for continuing to create some interesting, amazing, and always delicious pizzas every year. From all the prepping they did before hand, to cranking these things about throughout the day, they make me more than proud. By the way, I am willing to “rent” them out for your own parties…just see me privately for pricing and details…sshhhh.

But let’s get to the movies that were on the menu for this year.

The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959) – As always, we always like to start off with an old black and white classic from the ’50s, and this one fit perfectly. Sure, it might be sort of a Creature from the Black Lagoon rip-off, but the characters that fill out this flick are a riot. Not only is the monster itself pretty cool looking, but there are a few severed heads here which was pretty rare for movie at this time to have that kind of gore. I’ve always been a sucker for these kind of titles, but seeing it with this kind of crowd makes the entertainment value even higher.

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The Brides Wore Blood (1972) – This is a perfect example of American low budget horror in the early ’70s. No famous actors, a very strange and bizarre story, and pretty much filmed in one location. But that is one of the charms. The best part is that as soon as the film starts out, we go into a flashback that was the rest of the film! We didn’t even come back out of the flashback before the end credits! The story was about vampires and a family curse that they were trying to break. Though at times, we weren’t sure if they were really trying to break the curse or continue it.

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I will say that this has probably one of the worst performances of a vampire on screen that I’ve seen in my 50+ years, not to mention having the worst set of fangs as well. The Count from Seasame Street was more convincing than this girl. Not sure if this actress was trying to play a drunk bloodsucker, or maybe one with a disability of some sorts, but it was enough to make us laugh each time she came on screen. We’ll give her an A for effort, but she might want to go back and finish those acting classes.

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Frozen Scream (1975) – Now this little gem…wow. This one has to have some of the worst dubbing I’ve ever seen, but mainly just for one actress, who also happens to be the producer! One would think that it would be her job to get someone to redub her character because you can barely understand what she’s saying! But then she dubs it herself!!! There are times where she is almost un-decipherable! You hear her talking and start to think “wait…is the audio bad on this…I can’t understand what she just said”, only to realize that is just her! But that is only part of this title’s charms. At one point, I think they realized how bad it was so in pops in a narration from the police detective, which pretty much then fills in the audience of what is going on!

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The film does have decent moments of gore for this budget and time period, but it really is the acting and the dialogue that makes it so much fun, including this dream sequence pictured below that looks like a shot from a ’80s heavy metal music video! Though, I wouldn’t really recommend watching this alone, but with a group of like-minded fans. Then again, that really goes with all of these movies!

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The Capture of Bigfoot (1979) – It’s been awhile since we had a Bill Rebane title in our marathon. Back in 2008, we had Blood Harvest (1987), which stars Tiny Tim as a clown. But in Capture, it’s all about Bigfoot! Taking place up in Wisconsin, after a couple of trappers are found dead, the search for the great creature is on. Genre favorite George “Buck” Flowers is among the cast and is always a real treat to see and hear. The best part of this one is more because of the characters that are so much fun, such as the sheriff that likes to do really bad impersonations. Though, I don’t think he was trying to be bad….

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I always have to give Rebane some credit because he always was really trying to make a good  product and knew all the ins and outs of filmmaking. But he just never seem to make everything align together properly. As for Bigfoot movies go, this one is a lot of fun and you’ll have plenty of unintentional laughs.

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Winterbeast (1992)  – I had stumbled across this little gem a couple of months before our Turkey Day in May earlier this year and really wanted to screen it at that event. But since that was a Best Of Turkey Day, I really had to wait until now. And it was killing me to do so because I knew this one was going to be the one that everyone was just going to go nuts over….and I was right. Words cannot describe what you’ll see in here, other than some very poor filmmaking, terrible editing, hilarious dialogue, and some incredibly cheesy but fun stop-motion animation monsters that pop up throughout running time. When you hear about a film that you’re told “you’ve never seen anything like it before”….well, this one is just like that. Except…you REALLY haven’t seen anything like this one!

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Most of the people involved with this picture, that you probably won’t find too surprising, never went on to work on any other films, and you can definitely see why. Just like with Frozen Scream, one would think that the job of the producer is to make sure that you get the best talent that you have money to spend. So not sure what that means when the producer is also the editor, in which this film has to have some of the worst editing I’ve ever seen. Shots are not aligned properly, or even cut together well. But…none the less, we do have these amazing animated monsters, like the one below! I mean…how bad could the rest of the movie be if you have scenes like this one?

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This film is another prime example of no matter how long you’ve been a fan of the genre, that you can still come across a title like this you’ve never heard of, but that it immediately rises to the top of one of the best Turkey Day movies ever made. Definitely seek this one out. It will change your life.

Wolfman (1979) – Much like Bill Rebane, who had built his own film studio in Gleason, Wisconsin, Earl Owensby had done the same, except he built his film stuido in Shelby, North Carolina. Owensby started making films mid-70’s and have never looked back. His film Wolfman is a period piece set somewhere around 1910, though there are several things seen that are not from that era. But they do try to get that same look and feel as the TV show Dark Shadows, which they do try really hard to get there. Key word…’try’.

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Out of all the films we watched today, this one had one of the lower ratings on IMDB and there is reason for that. But even though the film does move a bit slow (we don’t even see the werewolf until an hour into the running time), there are some wonderful characters in here that make it play a little easier, such as the preacher below. Owensby plays the title character who comes home after his father dies only to learn that he is under a curse and will turn into a beast on the next full moon. This one is not the easiest to get through on your own, so make sure you bring friends…or at least some cinematic enhancers.

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The Strangeness (1985) – Up until Neil Marshall made The Descent in 2005, there really wasn’t a horror movie that involved spelunking that was any good. In fact, they’re pretty much all just terrible. Cast in point…our last film for the day. Okay…this film does feature a stop-motion animated monster too that is just freaking awesome. Unfortunately we don’t get to see too much of it, or at least until the end, and even that is brief. But…this is Turkey Day and we are professionals here. So we have the endurance….

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A group of people travel down into an abandoned mine for a variety of reasons, most of them not good ones. So most of the action (okay…not really ‘action’ persay, but the story)takes place down in the mine, which is really just a set that was built in the director’s grandparent’s garage. No matter what, I do have to give them credit for that since if you didn’t know that, I’m not sure you would have picked up on it. Granted, it doesn’t make the film any better, but kudos for doing something like that. The characters are so annoying that as they die off one by one, you are rooting for who might be next, sometimes hoping it is certain characters whose death couldn’t come soon enough!

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So another Turkey Day done, another seven movies watched/witnessed/experienced or whatever term you might want to come up with. But we got through them and I think are much stronger for it. But I do think that one thing that really is essential for these kind of viewing parties is the people attending. No matter how bad the movie might be, with the right group of people, it can make even the toughest piece of celluloid palatable. Sure, it might give you indigestion, but at least you got it down!

Thanks to everyone who came out this time to help up celebrate our 15th year. See you in May 2018!

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