I’m a little late to the party with this one, seeing as how we’re fast approaching the new year, but here it is anyway. Better late than never, I say. Join me as I take a look at this holiday horror.
Tubi TV version
1 hour, 6 minutes, 40 seconds
A title card tells us it’s 1621, “moments after the first Thanksgiving.” The opening frame is a close-up of an areola. Ok, they’ve got my attention. How did they know I like breasts?! The camera zooms out to reveal two massive melons attached to a pilgrim (middle-aged porn star Wanda Lust). Screams can be heard. There’s at least one murder going on in the background. The pilgrim woman runs, boobs a-bouncin’. She trips, she falls. Something with purple Evil Dead vision swoops in behind her. She turns around to see a rubbery turkey head staring back at her (voiced by writer/director Jordan Downey). “Nice tits, bitch!” it quips. An axe is shown rising up before SLASHING DOWN!
Fast forward. It’s Fall in some college town. Generic Gin Blossoms-esque music plays while students walk around campus. Five unlikely friends pile into a jeep. There’s Johnny the quarterback, Billy the big fat party animal, Darren the socially awkward nerd, Ali (pronounced Allie) the airhead, and Kristen the good girl. There’s some funny banter here. Ali hits on Johnny. Kristen jokes that Ali’s legs are harder to shut than the JonBenét Ramsey case.
Off in the woods, somewhere close by, an old hermit’s dog pees on a gift shop totem pole sticking out of the ground, causing the turkey, whose name is apparently just “Turkie”, to rise from the leaves. “Aw fuck, I’m pissed!” he exclaims between gulps of dog urine. Turkie takes out the dog with yet another axe. Alright, where is he getting these axes, and more importantly, how is he holding them?
Thoughts (Possible Spoilers)
Johnny’s Jeep overheats as the sun sets. With no other option, he and his friends hike off into the woods with two tents as night falls. Nobody’s wearing a sweatshirt. It looks too warm to be late November. Then again, my kids and I jumped on the trampoline Christmas Day. Darren finds a broken sign on the ground that reads “Crawberg”. It reminds him of an old legend he heard and remembers all the details of, rather conveniently. He goes on to recite that legend to his friends while they drink beers around a campfire in typical slasher movie fashion. An amateur flash animation plays through. Darren explains that a Native American man placed a curse on the town causing Turkie to appear in arbitrary intervals of 505 years to kill white people, because vengeance. The cartoon representation of the Native American man has disturbingly long nipples.
Synchronously, the stroke of midnight marks — you guessed it — 505 years since Turkie’s last appearance, placing this movie in 2126, one-hundred-five years in the future. That… doesn’t seem right. I don’t think they ever bothered to crunch these numbers before.
The calculations don’t lie →
Meanwhile, the raggedy hermit (indie rocker General Bastard, whose songs, including “Liquor & Whores”, are available on Bandcamp.com for a buck apiece) tramps through a thicket in search of his beloved dog Flashy, or maybe it’s Lassie. He soon comes upon a gruesome scene.
“Your dog had an accident.” Turkie begins.
“What the Hell? What kinda accident?!” the hermit demands to know, never pausing to question how or why the foul fowl is speaking.
“Well, I took this here axe, and I axe-identally cut him.”
As hard as it is to believe, his “jokes” only get worse.
Minutes later, while checking in with her sheriff dad, Kristen glimpses the ghastly gobbler. She tries to warn her friends, but they laugh her off — even after an eviscerated baby bunny sails into their campfire, and Darren identifies its wounds as having been inflicted by a turkey beak. Not just any beak, a turkey beak, specifically.
The next morning, Billy wakes up to find turkey droppings all over his chest and the old hermit standing guard with a shotgun. This happened to me with a chihuahua. Johnny tells the hermit to buzz off and they all get back in his Jeep. He takes Ali home first. Kristen makes the exact same JonBenét Ramsey joke she made earlier and the others react like they haven’t heard it before.
The next scene gets dark in a hurry. A passing motorist pulls over to ass-fuck the turkey, but has the tables turned on him. Turkie whips out a shotgun and makes the man call his daughter so she’s forced to hear while he shoots her dad in the face. Then, he drives off in the car (!). I can only assume he’s going after the protags.
Will they put an end to the curse before they’re pecked off? Things are looking up when they just so happen to find a copy of the best-selling book “ThanksKilling Night: How to Kill a Demon Turkey” in Kristen’s garage, but all hope is dashed when they see it’s written in math equations for some reason. Brainiac Darren cracks the code in short order and tells his friends to remove Turkie’s amulet (what amulet?), burn him alive at the stake like a witch, and recite a prayer backward. Seems easy enough.
While they scramble to meet these conditions, the old hermit returns out of nowhere and blasts Turkie point blank in the face with a shotgun. Against all odds, the bloodied bird lands atop a garbage can full of toxic waste and gets even more powerful. Who can stop him now?
Hilariously, the “book” the protags consult is a few pieces of cardboard taped together which give the wrong year for the opening slaughter — 1491. That would put us in 1996.
Thankskilling was shot in eleven days in Ohio in 2007 for $3,500. It’s a very silly movie that doesn’t take itself seriously or care about suspension of disbelief. With every scene, it seems to get sillier and more random until it’s so far removed from reality it feels like a weird dream. Its sense of humor is stupid, its kills are in some instances physically impossible, and its characters don’t act like humans. Nothing is as it should be. I find it hard to invest myself in a movie like that. I’m not saying Thankskilling is terrible. It has its moments. And I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t make me laugh out loud a few times. I’m just saying I can’t really get into it.
My lack of enjoyment isn’t due to the (low) budget or quality. Most of my favorite movies are cheap and/or “bad”. It’s due to the silliness. In my opinion, silliness is best kept to parody comedy. Your Airplanes, Spaceballs, Naked Guns, Loaded Weapons, and who could forget the Wayans Brothers classic Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood? I prefer it when horror presents itself seriously, or at least semi-seriously. The final result — “good”, “bad”, “so bad it’s good” — is irrelevant.
Of course, I do make exceptions. I’m only human. My opinions are complicated and occasionally contradict each other. Jack Frost and Leprechaun are two silly horrors I like. Although, to be fair, they’re a thousand times more serious than this.
Speaking of Jack Frost and Leprechaun, Turkie loves spouting one-liners like they do, right before and/or after he kills people. Most are intentionally bad, but some are anti-jokes where the punchline or lack thereof makes zero sense. For example: “There’s no such thing as a talking bird. Oh wait, I lied!” In what world does that qualify as a joke? None. The answer is none. The movie’s tagline “Gobble, gobble, motherfucker.” isn’t much of a joke either.
In one scene, Turkie kills a guy who’s railing a chick from behind and takes over. The girl doesn’t notice. Later on, someone finds an “extra small, gravy-flavored condom” by her body. I know both these things are supposed to be funny, but I’m struggling to figure out how.
In another scene, Turkie disguises himself as a cooked turkey, magically enters a character’s stomach without being eaten, and bursts out of his chest like an Alien™. This is what I mean when I say the kills are impossible.
Then you’ve got the part where Turkie peels a man’s face off, wears it as a mask Leatherface-style, and successfully impersonates him in front of his daughter. When Turkie finally reveals himself, the daughter isn’t phased in the slightest. She’s smiling and kissing a dude less than three minutes later.
In fact, no one seems to be phased by anyone’s death except Darren (Billy’s hits him pretty hard). The others are totally unconcerned with the fact that a turkey is talking and killing their loved ones. This is what I mean when I say the characters don’t act like humans.
At least in Full Moon’s The Gingerdead Man, which I’m mentioning here because it also involves a rubbery, wise-cracking hand puppet, characters have trouble believing what’s happening. They say things like “What in the hell was that thing?”, “Are you telling me that thing is a cookie you were baking? That’s crazy.”, and “It had to be fake.”
Here, they don’t even question it. I guess that’s why Turkie repeatedly calls them retarded.
The overall vibe I get from Thankskilling is that of a Troma movie. I’m not a big fan of those. I’ve been trying to pinpoint just what it is about Troma movies I dislike, and a few things I’ve noticed they all have in common are: they never take themselves seriously, they exist in their own little universe, they throw a lot at the screen all at once to offend people, and they have an attitude that what they’re doing is better or more important than other movies. So, maybe it’s a combination of all of those things? However, the more I read about Troma head Lloyd Kaufman, the more it seems like he’s actually a stand up guy and I haven’t been giving him a fair shake.
For example, I didn’t know until recently that Kaufman is a vegetarian and has been married to the same woman for nearly fifty years. I admire those things in a person. I also recently saw Kaufman in an episode of Cursed Films (in drag for some reason) stressing the importance of “safety to humans” on his sets, claiming he’d hate to see one of his cast or crew members get hurt, because “a movie is only a movie”. Plus, a lot of people look up to him, including successful directors like James Gunn. I must be missing something.
In light of all this, I’m thinking of signing up for a free month of Troma Now and giving them another chance. I’ll let you know if I do, and how that goes. But this review’s not about Lloyd Kaufman or Troma, it’s about Thankskilling.
I first saw Thankskilling several years back. One of the funniest things I came across when I researched it then was Wanda Lust’s IMDb page. It used to say she was born in 1994 (I’d believe ’64 or ’74) and appeared in her first pornographic video in 2006… at the age of twelve. Last I heard, that was highly illegal. That’s some Traci Lords shit. My guess is that Lust is the one who filled out the info to make herself appear younger, without stopping to think how it made everyone she’s ever worked with look like a pedophile by extension. Her bio has since been amended. According to the cover of MILF Does a Brotha Good!, she was thirty-nine in 2007.
The sequel, ThanksKilling 3 (there is no ThanksKilling 2, except as a plot device in Part 3) is even more out there. It features a whole family of turkeys, a little boy muppet, a rapping old lady muppet, and weirdest of all, an intergalactic bounty-hunting robot piloted by a penis-worm thing. While it has its moments like 1, ThanksKilling 3 makes no sense and is far too ambitious for its budget.
10 people, 1 dog + 1 animated death.
1 pair of boobs, 1 cartoon cock and balls.
2 or 3 JonBenét Ramsey jokes out of 5.
I Got My Copy From
these other ornithological epics:
The Giant Claw (1957)
The Birds (1963)
Blood Freak (1972)
Zombie 5: Killing Birds (1988)
The Birds II: Land’s End (1994)
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)
Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)