So let me be clear, this is not the movie you are thinking of. You are thinking of Thanksgiving which my future husband, Eli Roth directed a trailer for in Grindhouse. That’s not what we’re talking about today, we’re talking about ThanksKilling. Whereas Thanksgiving is a love letter to the slasher films of the eighties, ThanksKilling is more like a ransom note to your sanity. Filmmakers Jordan Downey and Kevin Stewart set out to make a horror spoof and ended up with just that…but at times, it would become so surreal that it managed to turn brilliant.
There are really two plots to ThansKilling. The first is about a group of college students with personalities so clichéd, there is no feasible reason they would all be hanging out much less driving home for the Thanksgiving holiday together. During a pitstop, they accidently pee on sacred ground and awaken a “necromanced turkey” that Native Americans cursed the white man with after the first Thanskgiving. This is the fake plot, ignore it completely. And don’t even get me started on how the fuck Native Americans and necromancy are supposed to go together…
The real plot of ThanksKilling follows the sadistic adventures of an unnamed turkey puppet. Honestly, that is why you want to watch this movie. You want to see a disgruntled, foul mouthed turkey hacking people to bits in the most zany and twisted ways imaginable. It’s not a great puppet, but it’s a good puppet and they manage to give it a lot of personality. The voice actor is able to bring a wide range of humor to the little pecker, transitioning effortless from over the top hilarity to dry, dark sarcasm. It’s what keeps the character dynamic in the absence of any facial expression and with limited body language. It is, after all, about the quality of a nature store hand puppet.
But apparently Downey and Stewart know how to wield a cheap puppet better than anyone and are able to use it as a tool to turn horror movie clichés inside out. This is where the surreal quality I mentioned earlier comes into play and makes ThansKilling a halfway decent movie. There are scenes in the movie that, on paper, are genuinely horrifying and almost push the boundaries of taste. But when they are played out, in complete seriousness, with this particularly turkey as the villain those scenes become so shocking and ridiculous that it’s impossible not to laugh.
I don’t want to give anything away about the best scene in this movie because it won’t have the same effect if you know it’s coming. But suffice to say is it’s the single most bizarre and awkward cup of coffee you’ll ever see. My second favorite scene though would have to be the turkey’s murder of a hitchhiker. I know that sounds terrible, but it’s about to get worse. He gets a ride by agreeing to the rules of “gas, grass, or ass” and while the driver is unzipping his pants, the turkey pulls a shotgun. There’s begging for mercy, a phone call to the family, and a blast to the head. The whole thing would be horrific…if it wasn’t being perpetrated by a cheap turkey puppet. But is and just like that horrifying becomes hilarious.
I’m going to trust that you wouldn’t watch ThanksKilling expecting to see a good movie. But you can watch it and expect to see a fun movie. It’s gory, it’s wacky, it’s brilliant as it wallows in its own ridiculousness. It’s not going to be for everyone, so I can’t guarantee that you will like it, but I certainly did. I would definitely recommend it for fans of Troma, Hennenlotter, and B-movies. Gore hounds might be a little disappointed, but anyone who likes to laugh at a horror movie will get a kick out of ThanksKilling.