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Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Lucky 13 Returns! Week Four: Thanksgiving

Pass the cranberry sauce, would you? Yes, folks, it's the time of year to give thanks once again--and also to gorge ourselves on food and pass out in a tryptophan coma on the living room couch. It's Thanksgiving! And I don't know about you, but I'm thankful each and every year for the opportunity to share my love of horror with the world via this little musty corner of the interwebs. As part of that gratefulness, we here in the Vault, and over at Brutal as Hell, have turned this edition of the Lucky 13 over to everyone's favorite turkey-related holiday.

You might be asking, just how many Thanksgiving-themed horror flicks are there? And you'd have a valid point, as this was one of the more challenging installments to put together (hence the anemic number of contributions). Still, I got a little creative, and I hope you enjoy our offerings this week. Also, enjoy Thursday, and make sure not to overdo it. OK, overdo it all you want--what am I, your mother?

B-Sol on Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster (1971)

I know what you're thinking. What on earth does a giant irradiated lizard doing battle with a massive mountain of sludge have to do with Thanksgiving? Clearly, you didn't grow up in the Northeastern U.S. during the 1970s and 1980s. Because if you did, you'd know that Thanksgiving was the day they carted out all the giant monster movies to show on syndicated TV.

Don't ask me why they did it, but it was just like getting to see the Wizard of Oz every year on Easter. It never failed that each Thanksgiving, WWOR Channel 9 (I believe it was) would dust off such gems as King Kong, Son of Kong, Mighty Joe Young, and more Godzilla films than you could shake a spiky tail at.

By far, my favorite amongst them was Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster, a.k.a. Godzilla vs. Hedorah. In fact, it was a highlight of the holiday for me, and I would look forward to sitting on the floor cross-legged in front of the TV after the big dinner to take in all the Toho goodness while my uncles and aunts snored away all around me. Wonderul times...

Why did this one stand out so much for me? Do you need to ask? Animated interludes... The classic hippie environmentalist theme song, "Save the Earth"... The funkiest Godzilla foe of them all... And best of all, some really messed up imagery--this was one of the darkest and most violent of the classic Godzilla movies, for sure. It's easy to understand why I loved it so much. And why I miss those Thanksgivings of yore...

Joe Monster of From Beyond Depraved on Ravenous (1999)

When I think of all the delightful trappings of the Thanksgiving holiday (the cold weather, the brotherhood, and the heaping piles of succulent meat), the only film that immediately comes to my mind is the backwoods be-bad-or-be-eaten bonanza known as Ravenous. Although the film didn’t fare well with critics upon its initial release (or at the box office), this cannibalistic comedy immediately dug its way into my heart right on my first viewing of the film.

From the minute that our sniveling hero John Boyd enters the confines of Fort Spencer with its ragtag group of eccentrics and crazies, I could tell that this was just one of those types of movies that seemed to be made solely for myself. Things only get better when the ever-charismatic Robert Carlyle arrives on the scene, and the film is pumped up a few gory and insane notches once he reveals his true flesh-hungry identity. The rest of the movie plays out as a good vs. evil skin munching demon-type scenario, with Pearce’s stoic John Boyd attempting to take down Carlyle’s devilishly charming Colqhoun before the mad faux-colonel can feast on all the inhabitants of the base.

There’s much dark humor to be had in the film, mostly due to Carlyle’s unique dining habits. Ranging from the absurdly silly (David Arquette screaming “He was licking my foot!”) to the fiendishly black (the strangely hunger-inducing scene of the troops sitting down for a steaming bowl of homo sapien), the comedy in Ravenous never overwhelms the sense of terror that it manages to pull off simultaneously, keeping the film completely balanced on the tight rope that separates horror from humor.

Although even I can’t claim Ravenous to be a cinematic masterpiece, I also cannot deny the massive amount of ghoulish fun that I have when watching it. There are deeper themes touched upon in the movie, such as Boyd’s search for redemption for his acts of cowardice. But let’s face it. When you get down to it, you end up watching Ravenous just so you can see a blood-soaked pilgrim chase down his dinner to the twangy plucks of a banjo. It’s a viewing experience in the best tradition of the holiday (although you should probably save this one for when the kids go to bed after the Charlie Brown special). Set the table, pop in the DVD, and good God let’s eat already.

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Head over to Brutal as Hell to see what Marc and the gang have cooked up! And join us next week when the Lucky 13 will have something very special in store for Hanukkah... I'm verklempt just thinking about it!

Week 1: Halloween
Week 2: Man vs. Nature
Week 3: Veteran's Day


Veer Wilde said...

This looks like my sort of film. Dark humour is definitely my style.

teddy crescendo said...

I saw this in a double feature with "Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla" circa 1976 and i still remember it as being one of the most entertaining 3 hours of my entire life.

lazlo azavaar said...

Godzilla vs The Smog Monster! Saw it in my youth, and loved it instantly and thoroughly above all others!

B-Sol said...

Smog Monster has always been my favorite.
Veer, I'm assuming you're talking about Ravenous? Check it out and let me know what you think!

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