I started holding my Turkey Day events way back in November of 2003. In 2015, we started a second one, Turkey Day in May. Ever since these started, we have never missed holding one. The numbers for each of the events varies from time to time, but there is always a group of us enjoying some of these cinematic road bumps. And then the pandemic started. As much as I wanted to gather a group of friends and still hold our May event, it just didn’t seem like the right thing to do. Originally, I had just planned on doing it by myself, watching the movies I had planned. But then talking to Turkey Day regulars Aaron Christensen, and then Jason Coffman, they informed me of this streaming thing you can do where people just log in and can see what you’re playing on your computer. Now originally it would be nice to have video and audio of everyone attending but it really would just have been too many people, and the chatting might have interfered with the actual audio from the movie. Jason mentioned using Kast, which has a chat room feature, so at least people could still communicate, make jokes or whatever, and still be able to watch the film. So after a few trials, on May 30th, we held our first online Turkey Day event. We only got through 5 movies instead of our usual 7, but I think it turned out pretty good. Not to mentioned the fact that we had more people at this event, hitting past 20 people at times.
Before we get to the movies, here’s the people we had joining in this time. We had our usual suspects, Aaron Christensen, Jason Coffman, Brian Fukala, Bryan Martinez, Craig Clark, Tim Palace, Chris and Lori Kuchta, Jill & Gregg Olheiser. Relatively newcomers Gavin Schmitt, Scott Bradley, and Alan Tromp. Then technically making their Turkey Day debut were Hoby Abernathy, Aaron Aubuchon, Andrew Bochte, Jerry Downing, Ken Johnson, Ryan and Jen Olson, James Schmeichel, and Kristin Wicks, and tuning in all the way from Brussels, Belgium, was our buddy Gert Verbeeck, which made this the first World Wide Turkey Day! I really hope I didn’t forget anyone that joined it, but if I did, I sincerely apologize.
But let’s get to the movies!
The Head (1959) – This little German mad scientist film is one that more people need to see. So much fun. Horst Frank plays the mysterious Dr. Ood who worms his way into another doctor’s confidence, not only stealing his discovery, but then turning him into a corpse-less head! There is some nice trick photography used here with the living head sitting on top of some sort of apparatus that is keeping him alive, especially for 1959. Plus the other characters, from a hunchback woman, to an broke artist and his dancing girlfriend who have to win the prize for couple who hates each other the most!
Coming out a few years before Joseph Green’s The Brain that Wouldn’t Die (1962), someone should have thought to put these two heads together! Director Victor Trivas worked more as a screenwriter (he scripted The Head as well as directing) but only directed a handful of titles, this one being his last.
If you are a fan of those scientist-gone-mad films then this simply is a must. It is fun and cheesy, but actually a pretty entertaining film.
Cave of the Living Dead (1964) – Let’s get this out of the way… YES, there is a cave in the movie. Several times in fact. The original title of this film is Der Fluch der grünen Augen, which translate to The Curse of the Green Eyes. But IMDB lists the title as Night of the Vampires. Cave is the title listed as for the UK release, but I know it made its way here in the states under that title, usually double-billed with Tomb of Torture (1963). Got all that?
The film stars future director Adrian Hoven as a police detective sent to a small village to investigate a report of young women dying, as well as something about vampires. The film takes a very realistic approach to the superstitions of the town and the villagers, even though we’re not sure as the story unfolds, which version might be correct! Oh yeah… it also features a mad scientist too! There is a lot of fun characters in here which is one of the things that make it entertaining.
Graveyard of Horrors (1971) – The original title for this Spanish flick is Necrophagus (what a great title!), but was also released as The Butcher of Binbrook. The Graveyard title looks like it was done for the video release. Now, let me say straight out, this is very slow moving, with a plot that you almost need a roadmap to try and follow. But because it is from Spain, has appearances by cult faves Victor Israel and Frank Braña, and is just one W-T-F is going on plot, that is more than enough for me. Yeah, I know… not too picky.
Once again, there is some mad science going on, with some “thing” buried in the ground that has tubes of blood going into it, people in masks and black robes running about, and a main character that disappears halfway through the movie! There is some great monster POV shots as it attacks, which mainly consists of the victim putting their hands up towards the camera screaming and yelling. Nice!
This was released on DVD by Image years ago so hopefully it wouldn’t be too hard to find, if you care to even seek it out.
Curse of the Blue Lights (1988) – This was one title that I remembered seeing at the video stories all those years ago but never got around to renting it. But earlier in the year I finally got a copy and watched it. And right away, I knew it was perfect for Turkey Day. Once again, let me say right off the bat, this is not a good movie with acting on par with a local high school theater group. Though, I have to give credit to those under the extensive makeup because that couldn’t have been too easy when they were trying to speak with the fake teeth in their mouth. There’s some moments you really can’t understand them! But that is all part of the fun.
A group of locals and their dates discover some nefarious things going on out at the local cemetery. They stumble upon some ghouls that are trying to perform some ritual that will bring to life some sort of monster to destroy the earth. If you’re a fan of ’80s makeup and monsters, then you should at least be entertained by what you see. But again, not the highest quality when it comes to story and acting. But again, this is Turkey Day, so it was a fun watch, especially if you’re with a bunch of like minded cinephiles.
Horror Hospital (1973) – For our last film of the day, this was a quick change at the last moment, thanks to the suggestion of Turkey Day attendee Craig Clark. He mentioned it in the chat room and I had totally forgotten how perfect this film is for Turkey Day. So I quickly pulled out the disc and on we went!
Michael Gough (who I could watch talking about early Russian poets of the 17th century) plays (yet another) mad doctor who is trying to develop a race of super humans, usually on a variety of young adults as test subjects. Those that try to escape, as we see right in the beginning of the film, lose their heads in one of the most creative ways you’ll see in film! Robin Askwith (how he ever became a working actor is beyond me) and Vanessa Shaw end up at this “Day Spa” where things are not as they seem. Askwith is sent there by Dennis Price, who though only has a small role, is so much fun to watch here. Skip Martin plays the doctor’s little assistant, who has some great lines throughout the film. But again, the real star is Gough who chews the scenery like he hasn’t eaten is months. If you love campy British films, this really is a must.
So that was it for this year’s Turkey Day in May, our first online marathon, which I think went pretty well. The video connection sputtered a bit here and there but for the most part, everyone seemed to enjoy the films, even if it was in the comfort of their own home and not all grouped together. Of course, not having the usually plethora of homemade pizzas from my wife Dawn and son Nick was a little depressing for most, but we managed through it!
Until this coming November, we’ll have to wait and see what the state of the world is to see if we’re going to have to go this route again, or if we can return to some sort of normalcy. Only time will tell. Though, I have been thinking that even when things do get back to normal and our events are the way they used to be, there is a chance that I still might be streaming them through Kast at the same time. I won’t be there to chat with everyone, but at least we can still have people that can’t travel still be able to enjoy the films. Still thinking about it, so we’ll see.