This was a tough one for me this year. Not the movies actually, but just getting the whole marathon together. I am usually making plans and promoting it right from the first part of May, if not sooner, but for some reason or another, just couldn’t get motivated to get it going. But thanks to my Turkey Day co-pilot for over 15 years, Aaron Christensen, kicking me in the butt enough times to make sure it happened. So if you did join in the fun and had a good time, you can thank him as well! Got to give credit where it is due.
Once again, we did the online marathon, which is still not the best way to hold a marathon of cinematic train wrecks, but I think everyone that did join in had a good time. We had quite the variety of titles too, from haunted houses to science gone wrong, to big-budgeted Hollywood failures, but found some entertainment in the worse of them. Let’s get started.
I was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957) – While I think this one is amazing, mainly because it scared the crap out of me when I was a kid, it really does fit the “Turkey” profile with a lot of scientific nonsense, and some of the best lines of dialogue. Whit Bissell plays a descendant of the famous mad doctor and once again plans to follow in those footsteps, without letting anyone get in his way. The way Bissell treats others, whether it is his assistant, kindly blackmailing him into helping him, or the way he abuses his future wife is just appalling, but we should know that you don’t get in the way of a mad scientist! Gary Conway plays the creature, as well as the “teenager” that his face is stolen from.
Produced by Herman Cohen, following up his big hit I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), it was only the smart thing to do by following it up with something else in the same vein. This time out, it was director Herbert L. Strock directing, with Bissell returning but playing a different type of doctor, but one that was still mad as a hatter!
Ghosts of Hanley House (1968) – I first stumbled across this rarity while browsing through Sinister Cinema’s catalog. Since I had never heard of it, I figured I had to get it and it did sound kind of interesting. Maybe this could have been one of those lost classics that was amazing but just forgotten.
Unfortunately, no. No, it wasn’t.
A group of people stay in what the locals call a haunted house on a bet from the realtor who is trying to sell it but is having trouble because of the reputation. Though nobody really knows what happened to the previous owners, everyone says it is haunted. Written and directed by Louise Sherrill, her one and only film she directed. In fact, she only appeared in two other films as an actress, one of them playing the mom in Blood and Lace (1970), which wasn’t even that big of a role. But watching Hanley House, it is obvious why she didn’t go on to do more. She seemed to think that reaction shots can be 50% of the running time! Could I recommend this? If you’re looking for a obscure haunted house movie, you really could do worse, but it definitely is not a well made film, in any way, shape or form. Just like warnings the people that plan on staying there get, tread lightly.
Mistress of the Apes (1979) – I’ve been a big fan of low-budget king Larry Buchanan for a long time and have had more than a couple of his films make appearances in our Turkey Day history. But when I came across a copy of this title, even though it technically might not fit into the horror genre, I knew I had to have it in the list of titles to be screened. Granted, it does have somewhat of a connection because of the makeup effects done by Greg Cannon and Rob Bottin who have done more than a few stellar jobs in the horror genre. But no matter what it is still a Turkey. Just catch the scene with the theme song!
A woman is off to the jungle to find her missing husband and happens upon a tribe of half man/half ape people that she falls in with. The rest must be seen to believe. I was surprised and the gratuitous nudity in the picture, but it really would only make sense for Buchanan to use what he could to sell the picture. Again, not a great movie by any means, but one that will have you laughing or just shaking your head. Much like most of Buchanan’s work!
Biohazard (1985) – Oddly enough, this is the first appearance of a Fred Olen Ray movie for our Turkey Day marathons, which is kind of surprising when you consider is filmography. We’ve been thinking about adding this one into a slot for a while and figured it was about time. This sci-fi / horror flick is about some sort of alien creature on the loose is low budget filmmaking at its finest, something Ray was exceptionally talented at. The alien warrior is in fact played by his son, which means it’s about 4 feet tall, which doesn’t make the most menacing of presents! But the costume job is decent, as well as the makeup effects on the victims of it.
One of Ray’s charms and what I like about him is his casting of names that he is fans of, or that used to have a career but has now been forgotten by Hollywood. The top billing here is Aldo Ray, who is really only in the opening sequence! But Angelique Pettyjohn has a more predominant role as one of the scientists. She was known for her appearance in an episode of the original Star Trek and other TV series, as well as in The Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968). Making a little cameo is even Carroll Borland, who co-starred with Bela Lugosi in Mark of the Vampire (1935)! I always give credit to Ray for not only wanting to work with his movie heroes but giving them work when nobody else would. This title will definitely remind you of the days of video stores in the ‘80s.
Beyond Darkness (1990) – Italian director Claudio Fragasso, probably most known for his ultimate Turkey Day movie, Troll 2 (1990), has plenty of films in his catalog that could be added to any of these marathons. Which is what we did this time out by adding Beyond Darkness. This is sort of a combination of The Exorcist (1973) and maybe Poltergeist (1981) and maybe a few other movies that he’s ripping off. Even with all of that, it still is a turkey with plenty of WTF moments. Then again, that’s why we’re here, isn’t it?
A priest, or reverend, pastor, or what you can be and still have a wife and two kids, move into an old house that the Church seems to have found for them, even though it has a dark past that they completely know about! Nothing like the church knowingly put innocent children in harms way … I mean that could only be in the movies, right? This strange house they move into is the same house used in Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond (1981), so not only is Fragasso ripping off plots, he’s even stealing locations! Even looks like they got the same station wagon too! Another priest that was trying to fight a demon has lost his faith and become an alcoholic, before trying to warn this new priest that his family is in jeopardy. A doorway that leads to the beyond … I mean some other-wordly place, possession, and so much fun to be had!
Virus (1999) – For our final title in this year’s TDiM marathon, we chose one that had a budget of $75 million if you can believe it. Granted, watching it, you can see where all of that money went, but it still didn’t help make a great picture. In fact, between the cast and the special effects, that pretty much was it! For some reason though, even though it was directed by someone who worked in visual effects for years, even working with James Cameron, and produced by Gale Anne Hurd who gave us Terminator 2 (1991), Aliens (1986), and The Abyss (1989), it still sank at the box office quicker than the Titanic. I first saw this in the theater when it first came out and hated it, thinking it was plain stupid. I revisited it a few months ago and found myself overly impressed by the special effects in the film. Yes, the movie is still stupid, but damn if it doesn’t have some cool monsters!
Donald Sutherland, yes, that Sutherland is the captain of a tugboat that loses the prize its hauling in a hurricane. But we also a cast that includes Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin, Marshall Bell, and more. While in the eye of the storm, they come across a Russian science laboratory ship that has been taken over by some alien force. As the crew boards the derelict vessel, trying to put an answer to the puzzle, bad things start to happen. Yes, this is a very polished and expensive Turkey, but still a Turkey. It shows that you can throw all the money in the world at a film production and still create a cheesy movie. But damn if this one isn’t fun to watch. I once again have to give MAJOR kudos to the effects team in creating all the little robot monsters as well as the huge beasts we see. Very cool and very impressive. And to think they even tried to put out a line of toys based on this movie!?!?!
Which puts us at the end of this year’s Turkey Day in May marathon, which I hope is our last online only marathon. Hopefully by November we can go back to holding these in person, but unfortunately, since the seating is extremely limited at the Krypt, that puts most of you out in the cold. BUT … I am still working on trying to continue the online version as well as the regular one. So, keep your fingers crossed and we’ll see how we might be able to manage that.
Thanks to everyone that stopped by for the fun, which I know included a few new names and faces! I can only hope you had as much fun as I know I did. And special thanks to Aaron AuBuchon for creating this hilarious collage below! See you all in 6 months!