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.
Here’s a name that is one of the icons of acting, not to mention in the horror genre. Sure, most remember him from all the cheesy and low-budget titles that he appeared in, especially in his later years, but he was always delivering a fine performance. I mean, think about that for a minute. He appeared in Ted V. Mikels Astro Zombies, which I happen to love, and learned all this technical dialogue for his role of the mad doctor, and gave the performance if he was doing Shakespeare.
(1969) Directed by Ted V. Mikels Screenplay by Ted V. Mikels and Wayne Rodgers Starring John Carradine, Wendell Corey, Tom Pace, Tura Satana, Joan Patrick, Rafael Campos, Vince Barbi, Joe Hoover, Victor Izay
I first met Ted V. Mikels at the very first Cinema Wasteland, back in Sept. of 2000, where he was set up next to us in the vendor room. I knew of his work, from seeing trailers, some other clips, and seeing him in some documentaries, but my appreciation of his really developed after that first meeting, since he was so honored to be there to meet his fans. Every time someone came up, he would stand up and greet them with a handshake and honest hello. I mention this only because to really appreciate his work, you need to know and understand the man. Always on the low budget side of filmmaking, Mikels had that passion for the industry. He knew how to do just about everything in the business, from writing to directing to editing and more. Sure, some may say that he wasn’t that great in any of those duties, but I still say for any filmmaker to create just one film that has lasted the test of time, let alone many of them, that is a true filmmaker. And Mikels is definitely one of them.
Lugosi: The Forgotten King (1985, 2018) Directed by Mark Gilman Jr. & Dave Stuckey
In 1985, with the early days of VHS tapes and video stores, there weren’t too many documentary titles out there, especially on horror movies or their stars, unless you count a few trailers collections. But I can remember coming across one title in particular that was on the shelves, Lugosi: The Forgotten King. Being an young and eager fan to learn as much as I can about the horror genre, especially one of its icons, I immediately rented it. Even though the running time was short, showed the audience a little bit more behind the man and really how much of a talent he was. Now, 35 years later, it is out on DVD in an updated version, through Operator 13 Productions.Continue reading →
I love documentaries on the horror / sci-fi genres, especially when you get to hear from the people that were directly involved with them. There are ALWAYS great stories that we usually never get to hear unless you catch one of them at a convention, or maybe an extra on DVD or Blu-ray. So when I first heard of this new 3-disc documentary called Monster! Martians! Mad Scientists! Horror in the Atomic Age!, it had my interests. When I discovered the price was only $15, I did have some doubts because it was so cheap, especially for 3 discs, but I figured at that price, it was worth taking the chance.
I’m glad I did!
The 3 discs are divided into time frame categories. The first one, entitled The Atomic Age, starts in the early ’50s and gives us a look back at that time and the films that were coming out. While this is about the movies, we get to hear and understand what was going on at that time period, with the constant threat of atomic destruction hovering over their heads, and how that effected the movies. The second disc, entitled A World Gone Mad, covers the second half of the ’50s with the big-bug movies, alien invasions, 3-D movies, and more. The last disc, called Fade to Red, covers the early ’60s and how times were changing, due to the Vietnam War, the Civil unrest, and how the films were reflecting that with more realistic gore and terror.Continue reading →
“The only bad movie is a boring one”, a statement made by author Stephen Thrower that I not only agree with, but live by as well! This last Turkey Day, we put that statement to the test and proven it to be true! For the most part, that is.
Before we get to our 17th year of holding our annual Turkey Day Marathon, I have to first say how thankful I am to have so many like-minded friends that journey out to the Chicago suburbs twice a year to celebrate the types of films that we watch. They are not only true cinephiles, but know that there is entertainment and enjoyment in even the lowest rated film out there. Well… most of them!Continue reading →
The Black Sleep (1956) Directed by Reginald Le Borg Starring Basil Rathbone, Akim Tamiroff, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Bela Lugosi, Herbert Rudley, Patricia Blair, Phyllis Stanley, Tor Johnson
Basil Rathbone stars as Dr. Joel Cadman, who is obsessed with discovering the mysteries of the human brain. His wife is in a coma due to a brain tumor, so he is determined to discover a way how to save her, even if this means through un-ethical experimental operations on live patients to find that cure. He saves a fellow doctor, Dr. Ramsey, from the gallows who was wrongly accused. He does this by use of a drug he found in India, which he calls the Black Sleep. Once taken, it makes the person appear to be dead, even to the prison’s doctor. Once another injection is given, the “dead” comes back to life. For this favor, Cadman wants the young doctor to assist him in his experiments. But once Ramsey discovers that Cadman is experimenting on live subjects, he realizes he must find away to escape this madness.