Hello, Spongey here.
Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. Oh do I have a special feast for you all today. So I don’t do too much for Thanksgiving around here, just because it’s just kind of a stepping stone between two more important holidays. That and there isn’t a ton of Thanksgiving content out there anyway.
In the past I looked at that animated movie where turkeys go back in time to stop the first Thanksgiving, and counted down some really good animated Thanksgiving episodes. However, there was one other I did outside of the season for some reason that quite frankly tops them all.
That was the Bone Chillers TV episode Frankenturkey. Real OGs will remember this from way back. Seriously, the review is from 2012 so yeah, it sucks. (That was 8 year ago, I’M OLD) We’ll comment on that at the end though as I want to focus on something else.
Earlier this year, I did a month looking at some of the Goosebumps ripoffs and Bone Chillers was one of them. This series is arguably the most well known out of them and I was already family with the TV Series so it was cool to finally look at one of the books. I reviewed Little Pet Shop of Horrors, where a girl becomes a dog and gets adopted by a bully, then is threatened with abuse way too much. Some weirdly dark stuff aside, I liked it and since then I’ve read a couple others that were more outthere but still fun in their own right.
If nothing else, this series is certainly creative, if kind of uneven. Ever since I heard about the series, there is one entry I’ve always been curious about, mostly due to the TV episode. I mean, the title is quite the attention grabber. It was only the 4th entry or so but it must have been popular, as aside from being one of the few “adapted” for TV, it actually got a sequel…only a few books later.
Yes. I do have access to that one but sadly for a while I didn’t have it for the original classic even though it is easier to find. The first four were put on Amazon Kindle and given physical versions you can order from there as well. Money was my main enemy here putting a border between me and true bliss. But for November of this year, I decided to get a free trial of Kindle Unlimited just to read this.
Then once I got a slot freed up by pushing away a 4th marathon edition (Sorry about that), I figured…why not review it? It’ll be my only chance as far as I know to even read it, so why not fully share it? It is the season of giving thanks after all, so why do give thanks to her highness Betsy Haynes by giving an extra review for this series?
I said I was open to fully reviewing another entry from these and while I’m mostly doing Goodreads reviews for them, this should be a fun one off thing. By the way, the last one I read was one of the ghostwritten ones so it’s nice to return to Mrs. Haynes. With all that said, does the source materiel manage to match the brilliance of the adaptation? How does it compare to the other books I’ve read? Is it that good of a feast at all?
This, is Frankenturkey
I like this cover. It’s simple but it is ready all you need. Frankenturky looks cool and it’s a memorable enough image to get your attention. Perhaps a bit bland compared to other covers but overall, I think it’s decent enough for what it is.
The book begins with our protagonist Kyle Duggan and his sister Annie attempting to avoid the local bully, Jake Wilbanks only to fail miserably. They have recently moved to Massachusetts and Jake has been a thorn in Kyle’s side since day 1 and even made his lips bleed on that day. Kyle just told his mom that he fell down because we can’t let the parents get too involved, supernatural entity or not.
Also, while this isn’t the first out of these ripoff series I’ve read to have moving into a new house, it’s sill not as common as I figured given I know Shivers does it a lot.
“Nothing like this had ever happened to Kyle when he lived in Florida”
I find that very hard to believe.
They got to school where we find out that Kyle’s mom is his teacher, and he’s had a hard time making friends compared to Annie. Although there are a few kids he meets he seems to hit it off with. There does seem to be more an attempt to capture what it’s like having to fit into a new school compared to usual for these, I like that.
Mrs. Duggan announces that Thanksgiving is coming up so they will be doing a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving. The way she talks makes me think she’s teaching 1st graders, not 6th graders.
A few kids announce they wanna be “Indians” and I’m just going to assume they are white and be uncomfortable.
“With my luck, Kyle thought, Jake will get to be an Indian and I’ll get scalped!”
That’s racist, Kyle.
At dinner, the parents come up with the idea to have a more “classical” Thanksgiving, which would involve raising their own Thanksgiving Turkey. Also, Indians get brought up again and Annie corrects them to say Native Americans, so that’s good. Less good is raising this nice turkey so just ya’ll can eat it later.
The next day, they go to Mr. Berkowitz’ feed store to get a Turkey, and Kyle keeps complaining the whole way. It gets a bit annoying. Then the man says this:
“Dumbest critters God put on this earth. It’s a wonder they knew enough to waddle onto Noah’s ark”
I don’t know why I find that line so weird, it just is.
They pick a turkey that looks lonely and sad, feeling sorry for it. They take it home and start bonding with it, which is nice. That night they want to bring the turkey inside but the parents remind the kids that the turkey is their dinner and they shouldn’t get attached to it, going into detail what they plan to do it. Nice to see these series keep the tradition of awful parents.
Despite that, Kyle names the fellow Gooble-de-gook which is a dumb name. Then a big shadow looms over him-oh wait it’s the dog. Great, now we have fake outs too even though the others from this series I read didn’t’ do them much. The dog, named Trouble, actually starts taking a liking to Gooble-de-gook.
See, if a dog and a dol-I mean Turkey can be friends, why can’t most of us?
The parents task the kids with feeding the turkey early in the morning and because of having to these duties, dad will have to drive them to school so they won’t be late. This means finally avoiding Jake but of course he happens to be there when the kids arrive. Kyle tells him the truth for some dumb reason so now Jake wants to beat up the turkey because he really has nothing better to do.
Okay, he just wants to see if Kyle is telling the truth but he comments about wanting to wring the bird’s neck. Now they must protect Gobble-de-gook twice over. At first they are stumped at what to do but Kyle gets an idea: They will hide Gobble and replace him with a fake turkey to fool Jake. Usually I’d ask if anyone would buy that but he is an idiot bully so…sure.
They get a turkey from the store and use it for their fake Gobble. They use a bunch of other stuff like a mask and brown paint to make it look closer to a live turkey. This is going on while a storm complete with the thunder and lightning is rolling in but I’m sure that won’t be a problem.
Except whoops, lightning strikes their fake turkey…and it starts to come to life. Wow, that was quick. It doesn’t do anything bad yet, it seems generally normal, except it has red eyes. That is always a good sign so we’re safe. I gotta say, these kids got over the “fake turkey was just brought to life” thing pretty fast.
The weird thing is all the evidence of the turkey being fake are gone, like the wire hangers put in it. The lightning somehow made it into a real bird, not just a fake one brought to life. I question the realism of this book called Frankenturkey.
Kyle finally starts to question all this and he talks it out with Annie. It hits them that this is an awful lot like the Frankenstein story, with the whole lightning bringing things to life thing.
Um actual lee it’s Frankenturkey’s monster. Also something something credits.
Of course, this makes Kyle worried their new turkey will become a monster right now, although at the moment it’s acting normal. Then Jake the bully comes a knocking, hoping to see if they really got a turkey back there. The parents happily show him the bird and all seems well and he’s happy.
Except that the dog does not seem happy about Frankenturkey. Given dogs always detect evil, I doubt this means anything. At least Kyle actually recognizes this, mostly because Trouble actually likes the real Gobble.
Jake puts on a nice act, claiming to be Kyle’s friend and the kids do at least try to keep it up as not to face his wrath but once they are alone, Annie lets one slam slip so he decides to wring the bird’s neck. Whoa, we sure went from normal bullying to turkey murder fast.
Thankfully, he made the mistake of threatening an abomination against god so Frankenturkey attacks him. That’s pretty satisfying. But it’s on a roll and starts going after the other kids too once Jake runs away. They hide inside pretty easily though and worry about how they will get rid of Frankenturkey. Boy did this escalate quickly.
The next day at school, Jake is telling everyone about the evil turkey but he claims to not be afraid of it at all. Once they are alone, he shows the opposite and Kyle takes advantage of that to say that it is indeed a fake turkey brought to life and tell Jake he’ll sic Frankenturkey on him if he acts up. I feel like this bragging will bite him in the butt but in the moment all this comeuppance for the bully is pretty great.
After the next few weeks, they keep Gobble hidden while they swear Frankenturkey is getting bigger. It’s also just now showing signs of the fake-ness, with coat hangers peeking out. I know it needed to be flawless to fool the parents but that’s still odd. Actually, do they plan to let Frankenturkey get cooked? They made the fake turkey to fool the bully, they never talked about if they it to fool the parents or what they plan to do to protect Gobble.
It’s getting closer to Thanksgiving and mom wants the turkey for their Thanksigivng pageant and Dad wants to go to the cellar, where Gobble is hidden, to get his ax to get ready to kill their bird. Mom has a line about wanting to do the pageant before the bird is killed. It’s weird how these parents act much nicer than most of these and yet still feel horrible.
They need a hiding place for Gobble and their plan is to build a new secret hiding place to put in the woods. Then they discover a cave and put him there instead and even Kyle wonders if that that’s the safest idea. They go back home and discover that Frankenturkey has broken out and their dog is gone. This may be for kids but it is still horror so let’s just fear the worst here.
They find Trouble but he has a gash across his nose and is bleeding. Damn, the last one I read took a break from this series being slightly hardcore and this one seemed to be the same until this. The kids reaction to all this is more emotional than usual for these.
They clean up the dog and notice Frankenturky is now back from wherever he went and is bigger than ever. They assume he must have went after Gobble They are held back a bit by mom having to fit them for pilgrim costumes, and during this she noticed their bird had a Halloween mask on but just assume the kids were playing dress up, because thank god for dumb parents.
Once they are free, they head back to the cave and thankfully Gobble is fine, so they go back home. The next day, it’s time for that pageant and the parents want to bring the turkey for some reason. Shouldn’t he be in the oven by now? To avoid this, they plan to take Gobble instead.
They manage to switch them out although once they are in the van, they see Frankenturkey staring menacingly from the middle of the road. It would be amazing if he started chasing them but sadly he doesn’t have super speed. Annie figures he won’t find his way to school but Kyle thinks if he can go from a frozen carcass to a live turkey, he can do anything. Impeccable logic.
At school, Kyle sees Frankenturkey out the classroom window. Him getting all the way here I can let slide, not so much that no one seemed to have noticed him. Thankfully his only trick right now is staring evilly, so there’s time to present Gobble to the class, who is way too excited over a turkey.
Also, those three guys that Kyle wanted to befriend earlier are cool with him now, just in case you wanted a payoff to that. The rest of the day goes well and Frankenturkey isn’t even there when school is over and they are taking Gobble home. That night, dad announce dit is time to kill the bird.
People don’t talk like that but whatever, at least he’ll face Frankenturkey now. Or not, as it seems he got out and the parents are super pissed.
“What would the Pilgrims think?”
I really don’t think they would care. These parents are weird. The kids don’t mind though since they figure Frankenturkey is just magically gone forever. They are correct and the book ends there.
Nah. On Thanksgiving morning, they visit Gobble in the cave but find that Jake has followed them. Yeah, during that class prese3ntion, even he was smart enough to notice that it looked different from the turkey that attacked him and he wanted to ask them about it. I should mention that during that scene, he was in fear which the other kids thought was weird. I thought that was funny.
Now they all have reason to be in fear because Frankenturky chooses now to pop up again. Where he was the whole time, we don’t know. The now even uglier turkey has them cornered and Kyle has Jake cooperate with him so they sneak past it. The dog awesomely bites Frankenturkey, allowing Kyle to escape.
However once he does, he notices that Jake didn’t get out in tine. Because he has a moral compass, he goes back to save him. Huh, that’s not something I usually see in these, that’s cool. Jake is too scared to move, so Kyle freaking headbutts Franketurkey! Damn, the balls on this kid.
This works in holding it back just long enough for them to escape, although Frankenturkey still chases after them. I should mention Annie already escaped early and I guess she’s just twiddling her thumbs at home during all this. It starts to storm and Jake gets a cramp, but they still manage to get home where Annie finally decides to help.
They end up in the garage but before Frankenturkey can get them….lightning strikes him and suddenly the evil turkey is not only dead, but is turned into a perfectly cooked turkey dinner. …I…well….I guess that matches up with how he was brought to life. If a strike can make him perfectly alive with no signs he was hastily made by kids, then a strike can make him a perfectly cooked meal.
Still, that is a bit anti climatic with all that build up. Whatever. Gobble shows up, which makes me think he should have played a part in the climax. Jake thanks them but Kyle thanks him since Jake actually knew the easy way back to the house due to living in these woods his whole life, now that’s nice.
Mrs. Duggan shows up and the kids explain that since they got attached to Gobble, they went out of their way to buy the last turkey left and had it cooked. She is thankfully fine with all this and is willingly to let them have Gobble as a pet. And Kyle has them invite Jake’s family over for Thanksgiving, sure.
We cut to that dinner as both families are enjoying themselves, and Frankenturkey is getting eaten. They take delight in feasting on their enemies and that’s how it ends. Yep, no twist this time.
It seems like only every other book in this series has one which I am cool with this since it would be forced, this ending works as it is…and there’s a sequel so the saga will continue anyway.
Well, after finally getting to read this after so long I can thankfully (heh) say that I liked it. Honestly, this is probably my favorite Bone Chillers book I’ve read so far. The main drawback is that it’s pretty out there logically, and you have to buy some far fetched stuff.
Granted, with a title and premise like this it’s clear isn’t meant to be super serious. I don’t think it’s that much weirder than the premise suggests but things like how Frankenturkey gets defeated are pretty silly. Even outside of that, some of the situations feel contrived and people like the parents don’t act quite right.
There were a few story things here and there I poked at that was actually more forgivable once I got the end. Like how the bully seemed to vanish after a certain point but that was resolved in the end.
Those parents were still…something though.
It does seem light on Frankenturkey at points but I think the climax makes up for that. There’s some wild and fun stuff with him around then and even before then there’s some decent moments. Outside of that, strangely enough the thing that makes this one work for me is some of the story stuff.
As cliche as it is, I like that the kids get attached to Gobble as their bond is kind of cute. It focuses more on that for most of it, it feels kind of cartoon-y in that way and that gives it a weird charm. Plus, we have siblings getting along which is super good to see.
Then we have the bully getting a fun comeuppance and redemption by the end. The former makes the latter feel more justified, and the ending felt pretty satisfying. Funny how this is at least on par with Little Pet Shop of Horrors and both have bully redemption…and evidence Betsy Haynes is an animal rights activist.
It weirdly does have a bit of that Thanksgiving spirit despite all the weird-ness. So as w whole, it’s pretty out there like you’d expect but it has fun with and manages to be surprisingly nice in the end. Kyle and Annie are good protagonists, most things such as Jake get a payoff and the wild stuff is pretty memorable.
While nothing will top the TV episode, this was still fairly enjoyable and I got what I wanted and a bit more in places. That’s all.
(Also, the blurb claims Kyle and Annie want to celebrate Thanksgiving like the pilgrim, when they did not want and that was their parents idea)
As for the sequel…yeah, we’ll do it next year. Although I must dock points for it not being Bride of Frankenturkey.
As I’ve said, I reviewed the episode but I thought it would be fun to look back in hindsight. As for the review, typical stuff for me at the time so it kinda sucks but it was fun to do. I go over Goosebumps Ripoffs at the start and I mention Spooksville because of course, although I mention a TV Series coming up “later this year”, when that series came out the following year.
I suppose that was just a guess on the initial announcement’s part, that happens. Also I crap on Shivers for some reason, think I was basing it on like one comment I saw, lol. Anyway, as In Name Only as the series was, this episode was a bit closer to the book than Teacher Creature was.
At least we still have kids not wanting a turkey they bonded with to be eaten, so they make a fake one that comes to life and is evil. Although in the episode, they want to bring it to life using Frankenstein tactics on purpose, the evil part was the problem. Naturally things go in their own direction otherwise but at least there’s that.
I’ve seen other episodes but I can’t imagine this one being topped for how insane yet sorta self aware it is. There’s a weird magic to this one that others can’t quite reach. The episode arguably uses Frankenturkey better but the story elements make the book better.
There is one interesting note to the episode I learned recently. It was directed by Valerie Brieman…the director of Going Overboard.
You know, that Adam Sandler debut movie I crapped on ages ago? The thing is, Adam Rifkin has a small role in that and he just happens to be the creator of the Bone Chillers TV Show…meaning that movie certainly played a part in this episode being as epic as it is. But that’s not all.
You may recall that Phineas and Ferb/Milo Murphy creator Dan Povenmire has a quick cameo in that. Well, Valerie just happens to be the same one that went on to write for Milo season 2. Yes, really. She’s usually just a director so this is even weirder of a connection. Everything is connected, I swear.
Oh and I made a tweet mentioning this discovery and Adam Rifkin retweeted it so that’s something.
Okay, now we’re all done. Hope you have a safe Thanksgiving this year, and reminder that being attacked by an evil turkey is still safer than going to visit relatives during a pandemic. Or to quote Principal Pussman, Happy Thanksgiving!