20 years. Two whole decades of Turkeys. In fact, 174 films during those years. I started doing this little mini marathon back in 2003, on my own, as a way to celebrate the type of films that most critics would scoff at. Two years later, I was joined by my friend Aaron Christensen, who has never missed one since then. While it took a few years of it just being Aaron and I battling through these wonderful cinematic shipwrecks, by the time we got to 2010, the number of people joining us on this mad quest started to grow. We had 6 that year, increasing year by year to around a dozen each time. In 2010, we started our second annual event, Turkey Day in May, because there was just too much Turkey to do it only once a year! We did go online during the pandemic, where during those online adventures, we did get 20 to 25+ people watching online, so that was kind of cool. But it just wasn’t the same as being in the same room with other fans.
Before we get to the films, I wanted to send out a huge thanks to those that have attended my little crazy marathons. I started this because I wanted to give these movies the appreciation that I feel they deserve. As I’ve quoted many times before, the only bad movie is a boring one, and the ones we’ve screened over the last 20 years are far from boring. Well, okay, most of them weren’t. With every person that started attending, they not only understood that statement, but they believed 100% of it, and relished in the outrageous titles, sometimes just plain bat-shit crazy. Never making fun or shitting on these, we treat them with love and respect. My fellow Turkey Day attendees are more dedicated film lovers than any serious critic I know. Because we can see past the flaws of low budget, maybe with not the most talented cast, or a script that doesn’t seem possible that someone would not only want to film, but actually get it done with a straight face! For that, I am forever grateful to consider these fellow demented cinephiles my friends. They really know and understand what true cinema is.
This year, we had 8 attendees that were there from the very first title screen to the last film’s ending credits. They were Neil Calderone, Aaron Christensen, Jason Coffman, Brian Fukala, Bryan Martinez, Tim Palace, Gavin Schmitt, and of course myself. There were many peaks and valleys amongst the titles, sometimes a few in one film itself, but we all are professionals and made it through all 7 movies. Granted, it might have helped with all the pizzas we were consuming. Which leads me to another important part of these marathons . . . the amazing and incredible pizzas that my wife Dawn whips out each and every time. I’ve always joked that my friends deal with the movies because they just come to eat the pizzas, and I’m not totally convinced that it’s not true . . . not that I would blame them! We got through 15 pizzas, from a couple of breakfast pizzas, both meat and vegetarian, biscuits & gravy pizza, poblano and corn, chili dog pizza (my personal favorite), eggplant pizza, crab ragoon, and so many others. So, a big and special thanks has to go to Dawn for going above and beyond each and every time. It wouldn’t be the same without her.
Okay, let’s get to this year’s lineup!
The Unearthly (1957) – This was a last-minute entry and I’m glad it was. No matter the budget or the script, you have to give it to John Carradine for giving 110% of his performance. He’s a master at speaking all sorts of technical dialogue and never missing a beat. He plays a mad scientist intent on making a person immortal by adding a new gland he’s created to their body. Granted, it doesn’t go according to his plan. Allison Hayes stars as one of his patients, and as much as I love her work, she doesn’t have much to do here other than stand around looking beautiful. Tor Johnson is Carradine’s muscle, who thanks to Carradine, has the strength of hundred men, and the brain of a chicken! Myron Healey, a veteran actor with more than 300 credits in his filmography, plays a man who gets roped into Carradine’s world and tries to figure out what is going on. Healey played in a lot of westerns and not too many horror or sci-fi credits but did appear in The Incredible Melting Man (1977) near the end of his long career.
The films from the ‘50s are usually prime choices for Turkey Day because they all tried their best to make the best film they could, no matter how ridiculous the plot or the characters were, and for that, I always give them credit and am usually really entertained by them.
Santo vs. the Killers from Other Worlds (1973) – We introduced Santo into our Turkey Day marathons last May with Santo and the Treasures of Dracula (1969), which actually made it more of a Turkey because of the incredibly bad dubbing. When I came across a bootleg of one called Santo vs the Blob, I was completely intrigued. Turns out that is not the actual title, but it does have a blob in it, which really is the main reason to watch it. Sure, it is still an entertaining Santo film, with a lot of the usual fighting and Santo running around everywhere, but damn, if that blob creature is one of the cheesiest and entertaining creatures we’ve screened for Turkey Day in the last two decades . . .
While battling two different crime lords that want to rule the world, there is some lunar rocks that when in the earth’s normal atmosphere, an intelligent (not sure how they know this) massive blob creature is created and rolls around killing people. Yes, this creature is just a bunch of poor bastards underneath some sort of tarp that shuffles around engulfing its victims. It has to been seen to believe.
Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973) – There are those films that you come across every now and then that makes you think “how could this ever exist?” This is one of those films. Written and directed by Fredric Hobbs, the last of his four features, is sort of a western, though set in modern day, and sort of a sci-fi / horror film in that it has some sort of mutant sheep monster, that we’re never really sure where the hell it came from or how it came to be! Plus, it’s over an hour before this monster or whatever it is actually attacks someone. And major kudos to the poor bastard that was inside Godmonster costume because that had to have been not only hard to move around in it, but hotter than hell in there!
To describe what this movie is actually about would take too long and not even give it justice to just how strange it is. Some parts make you think it is a period piece from the early days of the western genre but then there’s modern day elements throughout which makes it even more strange. And to think this actually is out on Blu-ray will just blow your mind.
Yeti: The Giant of the 20th Century (1977) – I came across this title when Kino had one of their sales, and for $8 for a Blu-ray, I couldn’t pass it up. And within 15 minutes of watching it, I knew it was going to be at the next Turkey Day event. And I think it probably was the best received of the day. While not really horror, it is about a giant on the loose. But the absurdity of the whole thing is just a riot. Major kudos to Mimmo Crao, who plays the title creature, for acting his ass off. Being pretty much covered in hair except his face, including a hairdo that looks like he’s out of some ‘80s hair band MTV music video, it is his facial expressions are one of the many things that make this so entertaining. It’s like he’s going through the steps on the different emotions and taking them to 11.
Director Gianfranco Parolini gives us this tale of a lost yeti found frozen in the ice and is thawed and somehow brought back to life. Antonella Interlenghi, making her film debut, plays the granddaughter of the money man behind the whole thing. We would later see her battling zombies in Fulci’s City of the Living Dead (1980). Tony Kendall plays the hired guard to keep the yeti in check. Spanish horror fans might remember him from both The Loreley’s Grasp and Amando de Ossorio’s second Blind Dead film, Return of the Evil Dead (both 1973). This movie definitely plays better with a crowd.
And if you need any more reason to seek this movie out, just check out this music video from the film!
Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake (1980) – Wisconsin filmmaker Bill Rebane’s take on The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Well, sort of. For the longest time, the only print I had of this was from the VHS tape, which was dark as hell, with a lot of the movie so dark you couldn’t see what was going on. But I recently came across an upgraded print which looks a bit better and lighter, so I added it to this year’s lineup. While I think it might have been the least favorite of the day, I still like this movie, while I will admit it is not the greatest film in Rebane’s filmography. Damn shame this wasn’t in the Rebane box set Arrow put out.
The story takes place as told in a flashback about an island off the coast of somewhere around Wisconsin, where there is a rumor of some sort of creature that lives in the lake, once worshipped as a god, that just might be protecting a possible treasure. The people that try and discover what might be there end up meeting our title character and not in a good way. The one telling the story is the young son of the ranger that lives on the island, that is helping a scientist and her niece investigate a bone fragment the boy had found. Meanwhile some guys disguised as loggers are also looking for the treasure.
Horror of Party Beach (1964) – The main reason this would be considered a Turkey is of course the monsters in here, that look like they have a mouth full of hot dogs. Amazing design but not sure where they were going with that. Though, there are some other fish creatures that honestly look a lot more terrifying, but you tend not to see those when talking about this film. The second film from director Del Tenney and really is not like many others, being a combination of beach party movies and a good old fashion monster flick, with plenty of action in both counts. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if there was an option of the film to cut out the song and dance numbers!
But thanks to some toxic waste being dumped on the shore, it has somehow made some human skeletons that were at the bottom of the water (?!?!?) come back to life as some sort of humanoid creatures seeking out human blood to keep them alive. Again, credit to the poor bastards inside the costumes because just walking around in them must not have been easy, let alone moving around in the water. But there are plenty of scenes with them lurking about, a good amount of gore for a film of this era, and some wonderful dialogue that really cements it as a Turkey.
The Bloody Sect aka Sectra Siniestra (1982) – I had heard about this one for a while but never came across a print, until Vinegar Syndrome put it out in a beautiful looking Blu-ray. Had no idea about the film going into it, other than it had something to do with a Satanic cult and a Rosemary’s Baby type story. But damn if this isn’t a strange and wacky take on those elements. Writer / director Ignacio F. Iquino, though credited as Steve McCoy, had been working in film since the ‘30s, so it was interesting to see his take on this sub-genre.
Emma Quer plays a young woman, newly married to an ex-mercenary, who just happens to have his crazy ex-wife locked up in his upstairs attic. Yeah. But some strange things happen, like the husband getting his eyes poked out, Emma getting artificially inseminated by some sperm of Satan, and starts to go all crazy with this creature growing inside of her. Plus, the cult is around to make sure nothing happens to her or her baby. Lot of bizarre and entertaining characters, like the little brat of a nephew that shows up halfway through, but especially the crazy ex-wife, with more than a bit of nudity, and lots of dialogue that is a riot. A very strange entry in this sub-genre, but more than enough WTF moments to really earn its place in a Turkey Day marathon.
So that ends our 2022 marathon. We debated on making it through 8 films, but I think that might have been pushing it! The real key is for everyone out there reading this, what is stopping you from holding your own Turkey Day Marathon? My dream would be that there would be several T-Day Marathons happening all across the world, all of us celebrating these movie mishaps and loving every minute of it. Maybe someday.
Thanks (as always) for another great Turkey Day! (#18 for me.) So great to see the “family” back together again under the same roof. Here’s to many more!