As most of you know, since 2003, I have been holding an annual event on Black Friday in November that I call Turkey Day, where a group of die hard film fans partake in some of the finest in cinematic shipwrecks, all the while being entertained as a bunch of giddie school girls. Well, most of the time. My list of titles that I gather throughout the year keeps getting longer, which is not a bad thing. But a few weeks ago, I was talking to my friend and regular Turkey Day co-pilot, about getting some people together for a movie day. During that conversation that I mentioned about having so many potential titles already on my Turkey Day list. Aaron then threw out, “Why don’t we have another Turkey Day?” The minute that audio hit my brain, the wheels started turning. This was the early part of May when this conversation happened and it hit me that this was six months since our last Turkey Day. So then…Turkey Day in May was born! I quickly sent out a few calls to some friends and set the day for May 16th. My wife wasn’t going to be home most of the day, so the usual feasting on homemade pizzas was going to have to be replaced with some handy delivery pizza. Nowhere near as good as what we usually get, but it was suffice.
For our 12th Annual Turkey Day Marathon, we had a record number of 13 crazy movie fans that came out this year to celebrate this crazy tradition that I started back in 2003. We had both regulars and a few T-day virgins this year, but I’m sure those will even be back next year. We got through another 7 movies this time, which I think is becoming the standard now. Plus, I think this event really showed what Turkey Day is all about. Yes, it is about watching and enjoying movies that your normal movie scholars would turn their nose up in disgust, but it is much more and this year really put the spotlight on those reasons. Besides the movies, it is about community. It is about a group of individuals of all ages, assembled together to watch some enjoyable ‘bad’ movies. The laughing going on throughout the day showed that we all had that same connection when it comes to these kind of movies and knew that it really is about having a good time with them with other like-minded film fans. Hearing the roars of laughter coming from everyone throughout the day reminded me of this each and every time, as well as the looks of “what did I just see?” that make these events so enjoyable.
This year our T-Day regulars that made it were Joe Wallace, Jason Coffman, Neil Calderone, Brian Fukula, Craig Clark, and Aaron Christensen, who was making this his 10th year coming. Putrid himself, Matt Carr made a glorious return after his last appearance back in 2009. Our T-Day Virgins were Sharon Gissy, and my son’s Nick’s friends Austin Robinson, Max Nolan & Charlie Morrison. Nick was there as well, when he wasn’t helping his mother in the kitchen creating one of the 17 pizzas we devoured throughout the day, which included breakfast pizzas, veggie pizzas, crab rangoon pizza, a spaghetti & meatball pizza (affectionately named the Drunken Billy) and a chili dog pizza, which was my favorite of the day. Major kudos as usual going out to my wife Dawn who created all of these (with Nick’s help) and always kept us wondering what was going to be next. It wouldn’t be a T-Day event without her and the glorious food that she creates for us. Okay…lets get to the movies!
You would think that after 10 years of holding these little marathons, putting movie viewers through some possibly horrendous films was not the nicest or smartest thing to be doing. Yeah…you would think. To those that think this just plain crazy, you are correct! But we do it anyway. The people that come out to help me celebrate my annual party are die-hard cinephiles that don’t mind getting on their hands and knees, drudging through the muck of cinematic garbage, or at least what some may call it. We try to find the higher points on these films, even though with some it is very tough to do that with, but we try anyway. It is our way to not only test our endurance, but also to highlight some of these hardworking filmmakers and their finished accomplishments. No matter how bad or good they might be, we feel they need to be remembered, even in the worse way.
We had no T-day virgins this year, but seasoned veterans that obviously are gluttons for punishment. While we thought for a while that Aaron Christensen wasn’t going to be able to make it due to an acting gig, he was able to work his way out for the first 4 movies before having to catch a train to meet up with his ride back to Milwaukee. That’s dedication. Honestly, I was thrilled that he did since it wouldn’t have been the same without him, since he has been here to every one of them since 2005. Also returning was Joe Wallace, Jennifer Kilzer, Craig Clark, Jason Coffman, Neil Calderone, and Brian Fukula. Brian also had to leave early, after the 3rd film, but we get him credit for making the trip out for what he could. My son Nick had to work this year, so he missed most of the movies, but did arrive in time to catch one of them. And of course, probably one of the real reasons these guys keep coming out for this event is all the amazing pizzas made by my wife Dawn, who was able to sit in the last few movies. We had the usual breakfast pizzas, Italian beef pizza, crab Rangoon pizza, but also some new ones like the chili rellenos pizza that was just incredible.
Once again, we got through 7 films, but managed to devour 12 pizzas this time. So with only 8-9 of us here for most of the day, we seemed to go through a lot more pizzas than last year. I’m sure the excitement of the movies just meant we were burning up more calories, making us hungrier. Yeah…sure…I buy that. But lets get to the movies.
Who would have thought that I would have made this little event that I started 10 years ago become what it is today. Those first couple of years it was just me. Then my good friend Aaron Christensen started to join me and has been my trusted co-pilot ever since. Then over the last 3 or 4 years, it really started to grow into something really special. Within the 10 years, we have gone from just one crazy movie fan putting himself through some cheesy movies, to our last event which consisted of a group of 10 diehard movie fans reveling in every second of the cinematic follies that we pick. Welcome to our 10th Anniversary Turkey Day Marathon.
As I look back over those 10 years, I’m estimating that we have survived well over 50 films, with only 1 repeat (BLOOD FREAK). The official count of those that I can remember is 48, not counting the ones that I watched alone that first year. That is a lot of Turkey. There’s enough tryptophan in there to put down all the TWILIGHT fans that are waiting in line for the next movie! But all in all, it has been a lot of fun.
Welcome to our latest installment for our Turkey Day Marathon recap. For our 9th year holding this little festival, it has grown quite a bit over the last few years. At one point during the marathon, we had 8 people here, all eyes glued to the amazing film that was coming our of the TV. Well, maybe not amazing, but definitely entertaining. In fact, not one of the 7 films that we got through this year was one of those that we were just waiting for the end to come. So that really was a first for our T-Day viewing party. Usually there is at least one title that makes us just hate life in general. Not to say we didn’t have our fill of Turkeys. We had quite a few gems in here.
But before we get to the films, lets get to the victims. As always, Dr. AC (aka Aaron Christensen), my Turkey Day co-pilot since 2005 was there. As well as Craig Clark, making another long journey to take part in the marathon. Last year, Joe Wallace and his girlfriend Jen had stopped by near the end. But this year, they were here right from the start. And our newest victim was another Chicago horror regular, Jason Coffman. He is no stranger to movie marathons, so we knew he was a would have no problem joining our cinematic shindig. My son Nick had to work for most of the day, but was back in time to catch the last couple of flicks. And while not in the kitchen making copious amount of food for the gang, my wife Dawn came down for a couple of the films as well. I mean, she’s married to me, so it can’t be too much of a surprise for her to see these kind of flicks….just saying! But let’s get on to this years movies.
This year’s Turkey Day Marathon set a couple of new records. First off, we had more for people in attendance than ever before. Safety in numbers, as they say. As always, Aaron Christensen was with us for this onslaught of ocular horror. But joining us was our new friend Craig Clark who made a journey of several hours to make it to our little marathon. We love that kind of dedication. Also stopping by was Joe Wallace and his girlfriend Jen who were on the their way back from Thanksgiving festivities, and decided to have some Turkey Day films for dessert! And my son Nick, who usually pops in and out of the viewings, actually stayed with us through the entire adventure. But also, we got through a total of 7 films this year. Another high point of insanity that is the Turkey Day Marathon. So let’s get on to the first course in this year’s feast!
Terror from the Year 5000 (1958) – This year, I wanted to start off the marathon with something a little older, but still a lot of fun. About a week earlier, I had sat down to watch this film that I had recently got a copy of. About 10 minutes into it, I stopped it and knew I had to save it for Turkey Day.
A scientist has developed a machine that can bring something from the future back to present day. The young financial investor is not happy about waiting for test results, and wants to keep pushing the machine to the limits. And as we expected, something eventually comes through that they hadn’t bargained for! This has got some classic early sci-fi dialog and actions in there that are just hilarious. Never knew that putting something that is radioactive in water will no longer contaminate you! Just love it. Or that carbon dating can actually be used to see how old things are…even if they are from the future.
This is an early AIP picture, by first time director Robert J. Gurney Jr., who only worked on a few pictures, including writing and producing AIP’s Invasion of the Saucer Men the year before. No matter how silly the dialog or science theories we get here, we have to give him kudos for giving us this entertainingly fun movie.
This year’s marathon brought something new to the table. A third victim! Joining me and AC this year was our buddy Matt Carr (aka gore artist Putrid) who finally decided to take up our offer to spend the day rolling around in cinematic garbage. With Matt being a fan of such things and very used to it, we know he’d feel right at home.
Sting of Death (1965) – Our first movie came from Florida’s own William Grefe, another renegade filmmaker that didn’t want to leave his Florida location and would stay and make his movies there. Sting was Grefe’s first real venture into the horror genre, creating the first half man/half jellyfish creature that has to be seen to be believed. Seeing a guy wearing a black wetsuit, with basically a plastic garbage bag over his head, and wires hanging off of him that are supposed to be tentacles is just priceless. It really is one of the best cheesy monsters in cinematic history. And it’s a blast.
A group of biology students head over to an island off the coast of the Everglades to have a party at Dr. Richardson’s house, where his daughter has just showed up to stay for a while. The doctor’s assistant, Egon, stands out like a sore thumb amongst her friends because he’s slightly deformed. So that makes it okay for all her friends to laugh, point, and generally make fun of him. But hey…they’re just wacky kids. In fact, right after they get there, they start the swinging dance party. There’s even a song playing called ‘Do the Jellyfish’ that was written and sung by famous singer/songwriter Neil Sedaka. I’m sure this was at the start of his career…But somehow, with all the dancing, the kids don’t happen to see this jellyfish creature sneak into the pool that they’re dancing around, waiting for someone to jump in the pool. As we said, it has to be seen to be believed.
Grefe would go on to make other successful drive-in style movies, including his most famous one, Stanley (1972).