Sabbath Reviews: ThanksKilling (2009)


Directed by: Jordan Downey
Written by: Jordan Downey, Bradly Schulz, Kevin Stewart, Anthony Wilson, Grant Yaffee

Does this film look like it’s about a murderous turkey? Does it? THAT’S BECAUSE IT FUCKING IS.

I’ve saved this review for the end of October because Thanksgiving will be upon us soon enough and we might as well usher in November with an up close look at the world of B-horror movies. As a filmmaker who operates on out-of-pocket cash, it’s always interesting to see what other filmmakers in my situation put out there that actually gets accepted by festivals … Netflix … sometimes even On Demand services.

Apparently the winning formula is to not give a fuck about story and just be an asshat. ThanksKilling was made on a budget of $3,500 and was shot during the director’s summer break and really is about a necromanced talking turkey who axes off children during their Thanksgiving break. At this time I would like to point out that the filmmakers credit a whopping total of FIVE writers for this script. Five. Five writers worked on this script — a script about a killer turkey. Let that sink in while I … try … to get down to business and explain this movie.

Literally the first shot of the film is a pair of pilgrim titties. I’m not going to lie … it had me at hello for a bit. They never explain why this pilgrim broad has her tits just on display. I’m guessing when you have a killer turkey stalking your big-titted pilgrim, minor details really don’t need to be explained. The pilgrim is played by Wanda Lust, a porn star, and I know that had to make the filmmakers giddy to say they nabbed a celebrity of some sort. I digress.

Tits McGee is running through the woods, only to fall and trip and we get our first look at her predator — a rubber turkey that’s obviously being operated as a hand puppet. “Nice tits, bitch!” I believe was the turkey’s first line before he raised an axe in the air and we cut to the opening title sequence. I’m willing to bet a good half of the film’s budget went to the CGI title sequence alone, because it went nowhere else.

Now in the present we get the standard slasher movie about teens opener — shots of a high school building, the trees, a kid riding a bike, etc. and then we get introduced to our main cast. The jock, the Mary Sue, the slut, the geek …. and the big fat hick? That’s a new one. For some reason they all hang out together and they’re off to celebrate Thanksgiving break like it’s not over in a couple of days … really, they’re overly excited about an extended weekend.

Meanwhile, an old dude with a shotgun and his dog are in the woods for some reason and the dog runs off. Rover finds a spot to take a piss which happens to be right on top of a figurine of a totem. The ground shakes and opens up and … IT’S THE KILLER TURKEY! Apparently dog urine summons him forth and we get our next witty line, obviously crafted by at least 3 out of the 5 writers: “I’m pissed!” … damn fine writing. He kills the dog.

I’m going to stop right there because reliving the plot is sort of killing me. Let me just sum up the rest of the film. There’s some lore about an Indian necromancing a turkey because the white man offended him and now every 505 years it comes back for vengeance … said turkey goes on a killing spree, the teenagers are all Scary Movie-levels of retarded (as in the horror parody series), turkey kills their parents and nobody seems to care, blah blah blah. Did I mention at some point the turkey becomes radioactive and comes back with a vengeance? Yeah, that happens. Or did I mention the turkey kills the Mary Sue’s father, dons his face as a mask and the teens don’t realize that its a turkey in a fake daddy disguise?

Yeah, that all happened.

Am I being too harsh? Do I sound like I loathed this movie? I think what worries me the most is I don’t and I don’t know what that says about me. The filmmakers seem to know they’re being retarded and some of the dialogue and actions definitely emphasize that, but every once in a while the actors try to play it serious and I think that’s what bothers me. The Director clearly didn’t direct because the actors bounce around from completely retarded to taking themselves actually somewhat seriously … and it’s ALL bad.

The actors are some of the worst I’ve ever seen. Clearly they were all locals and friends … that’s OK, I know how that is. I fully understand! But ee-fucking-GAD, some of them were just too awful for words. Okay, all of them were, but some of them seemed to be trying to do worse than the others. Slut Character — whatever your name was — you win. You win. Now stop trying.

On a technical level, this film fails as well. They say if you have bad actors, you can sometimes cover it up with good direction and vise versa. This is a case where nobody in front or behind the camera knew what they were doing. Some of the shots are fine — they follow the rules and look passable. Some of the shots are so jarringly bad though that it sucks you out of it. Yeah, it sucks you right out of the premise of a talking turkey killing teenagers. Shut up. You know what I mean. The lighting is often also poorly thought out, but I can’t talk … lighting is one of my weak spots. I hate lighting. That topic will be for another day.

The writing … the writing … where do I begin on the writing? Five writers, most of which supposedly worked on crafting dialogue, and the dialogue is single-handedly the worst thing about this film. The “serious” moments are so badly worded and unnatural that you wonder if any of them have heard another human being talk. It doesn’t help that they’re delivered with all the awkwardness these actors could muster. Sometimes the humor is actually pretty funny though in its absurdity, which makes things possibly worse because it contrasts so much with all the badly-written dialogue. It shows that too many people worked on this script.

I really don’t know. I’ll be honest. I think part of me is jealous that somebody made this and it actually got added to Netflix. Not only was it added to Netflix, but it was under the “Horror” section on Netflix Instant. You don’t have to even search for it. It’s right there! That’s how I found it. So, yes, part of me is jealous because this movie is so bad and at least made it that far.

Plus, you can’t outright hate a movie that has a scene of a turkey killing a guy mid-doggy styling a chick, takes over, only to finish inside of her and exclaim “YOU JUST GOT STUFFED!”.

If you’re the type who enjoys watching bad horror movies — I mean really bad — I’d say give this movie a view. It’s sort of one of those things just “to say you did”. It’s absurd. Ridiculous. Poorly shot. Badly acted. And it has some genuinely amusing, stupid moments that let you know at least one of the writers was probably pretty funny after a few drinks. It clocks in at 66 minutes long, so it won’t take a huge chunk out of your lives. Plus, I’ll put my jealousy aside and say you should support these guys because as bad as they are … they had the balls to try, and according to them, ThanksKilling 2 — IN SPACE — is on their to-do list. You’ve got to admire their persistence.

— Sabbath

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5 Responses to “Sabbath Reviews: ThanksKilling (2009)”

  1. guillaume de sade Says:

    I know what I’m watching this weekend!

  2. The concept is genius, even if the execution isn’t. 5 fucking writers is laughable. You’re in trouble when you have more than 2.

  3. This movie along with a few others on Netflix are a big reason why I have been telling the guys from Mad Panda (you know who they are damn it!) everything they’re doing and have done, should be considered in contention cause of what does make it out there.

    All I can say is I saw this on Netflix myself and had the opposite effect, I refuse to watch on principle…A KILLER TURKEY?!?! I’ll just keep watching the Eli Roth trailer for “Thanksgiving” on the Grindhouse flick, leaving it on repeat. Now that you have given me a very well written breakdown along with logical questions (5 writers, I would have never caught that), I’m good.

  4. chainsawcheerleader Says:

    Man, I know how awful this seems but part of me really wants to watch it.

  5. Hilarious review. I laughed out loud a couple of times…and I want to see the movie now. good stuff.

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