ThanksKilling is a 2008 horror black comedy film written and directed by Jordan Downey. The film was co-written by Brad Schulz, Tony Wilson, Grant Yaffee, and Kevin Stewart. A sequel titled ThanksKilling 3 followed after a Kickstarter campaign reached $112,248.
At the first Thanksgiving in 1621, a topless Pilgrim is slain with a tomahawk wielded by an evil demonic turkey, which quips, "Nice tits, bitch!"
Centuries later, five college students (good girl Kristen, jock Johnny, ditzy Ali, redneck Billy, and nerdy Darren) head home to Crawl Berg (formerly Crawberg) for Thanksgiving with their families. After Kristen calls her father, the local sheriff, the car overheats, forcing the quintet to camp out for the night. As they are setting up, Darren tells the settler-era folktale of Feathercloud, a Native American shaman who was dishonored by hedonistic pilgrim Chuck Langston, one of Billy's ancestors. The outraged Feathercloud used necromancy to create Turkie, who is said to appear every five-hundred and five years to slaughter all Caucasians he encounters.
Elsewhere, a dog owned by a hermit named Oscar urinates on a miniature totem pole, desecrating it, and releasing Turkie prematurely and urinating on him as well. Angry, Turkie kills the dog, prompting Oscar to swear vengeance as Turkie runs off, and scares Kristen. Kristen tells the others about her run-in with Turkie, but they laugh off her story, until a baby rabbit (which appears to have been pecked to death) is thrown into their campfire. The next day, Turkie flags down a vehicle, and when the driver sexually propositions him, Turkie responds by shooting the man in the head and hijacking his car. By nightfall, the students reach their respective homes, and while Johnny tries to reconnect with his estranged father, Turkie attacks him. Johnny's parents are killed, but he escapes, and rejoins his friends with the exception of Ali, who is having sex with her boyfriend, Greg. Turkie walks in on the lovers, slits Greg's throat, and rapes Ali before snapping her neck.
After finding Ali's remains, the students decide to go to Kristen's house, to see if her father has any books about Turkie in his library. Turkie beats them there, tricking Kristen's father (who is dressed as a turkey for an upcoming pageant) into letting him in by wearing Groucho glasses. As they wait for Kristen, Turkie and the sheriff share an awkward snack, which ends when Turkie murders the sheriff after he mistakes him for a duck. Kristen and her friends arrive, and are allowed in by Turkie, who has donned the sheriff's severed face as a disguise. Darren finds a book about Turkie, and it mentions he can be killed if his magic talisman is removed, though the rest of the passage about how to destroy him is written in code. Billy stumbles onto Turkie disposing of the sheriff's body, and while he and the others succeed in getting the talisman, Turkie gets away.
Billy storms off while Darren cracks the code in the book, discovering that Turkie must be burned at the stake after a demonic prayer is said backwards. Outside, Turkie magically enters Billy's body, and shoots his way out. Billy dies in Darren's arms as they reminisce about all the good times they had together. Darren, Kristen, and Johnny track Turkie to his tipi and say the prayer, but as they prepare to burn him he runs outside, and is shot in the head by Oscar. Oscar leaves, and the others go to Kristen's house, unaware that the dumpster Turkie was blasted into contains radioactive waste, which reanimates him.
Believing that Turkie is dead, the surviving teens go back to Kristen's house. While Johnny and Kristen admit their feelings for each other, Darren awkwardly goes to the kitchen to get a snack. There, Turkie rips Darren's tongue and heart out, and stabs Johnny with an electric knife. Kristen slaps Turkie and runs to a house-like shack. Turkie has chased her, but Kristen sets Turkie on fire with an aerosol flamethrower, and while he burns to death Johnny dies from the electric carver stab. Kristen grabs a pipe and knocks him into a pile of wood. Oscar congratulates her and she eats Turkie's legs. Later, at a family's Thanksgiving dinner, the cooked turkey comes to life, and in Turkie's voice yells, "Do I smell sequel, biotch?!"
Why It Sucks
- Everything about the movie all feels like some kind of horrible homemade fan fiction of a horror-comedy movie.
- All of the actors' performances in this movie are beyond awful.
- The killer turkey's behavior and personality traits feels like a terrible knock-off mixture of Freddy Krueger and Chucky.
- All of the characters are either badly performed stereotypes or just plain dumb, to the point where it's hard to root for any of them.
- Extremely bad pacing.
- Literally the first thing you see in the opening scene when you watch this movie is a pilgrim woman's boobs. Even the poster admits this happens!
- Everything in this film, from the plot to the characters’ portrayals, are extremely clichéd (and not in a good way). In fact, it doesn’t even seem like an actual horror-comedy, it feels more like an extremely bad Scooby Doo-esque movie.
- The way the killer turkey resurrects from the ground is completely ridiculous, as all it took was for a dog to urinate on its resting place.
- Horrid camerawork and very weak cinematography.
- Everyone of the characters pulls a bunch of idiotic moves throughout the movie, which to no surprise lead to most of them getting killed.
- The creators of the film were desperate enough to call this film a “cult classic” as shown on the DVD cover, which is also false advertising.
- The killer turkey's design is horrid, unconvincing and also completely inaccurate to real-life turkeys. Phelan Phelous even said in his review that it looked more like a cross between a vulture and a turkey sock puppet.
- Lame death scenes.
- Even when the film is trying to do a scary or serious scene, it just comes off as extremely cringeworthy and horribly-done.
- The scene where a female character (Cheryl) says she defecated in a coffee pot and shows it to the sheriff is disgusting.
- An extremely confusing ending where the killer turkey is somehow alive and is now a cooked turkey that’s about to be served to a family on Thanksgiving.
- Butchered character and plot development.
- Mediocre visuals, with in one of the death scenes it being easy to tell that the blood was digitally added in, the animation in the flashback being of rather low-quality, and a puppeteer clearly being visible in the rape scene.
- Atrocious and effortless writing:
- Everyone of the jokes and funny scenes are forced and nonsensical. A perfect example is the infamously pathetic running joke about JonBenét Ramsey's unsolved murder, which is also very insensitive to JonBenét's grieving family.
- Atrocious dialogue, such as "It's Thanksgiving, not Tits-giving," as well as "I'm gonna have sex with someone in this car!"
- The line "Gobble gobble, motherfucker!" is quite memorable and with a decent delivery.
- At least it warns us that there are boobs in the first few seconds, but it was still an immature move to pull.
- The film can easily be seen as so bad, it's good.
ThanksKilling was called "cheerily awful" by Tom Russo of The Boston Globe. Mark Hughes of Forbes stated, "It's a comedy-horror movie, but even the humor is awful. But it's so darn awful that it doesn't even need Mystery Science Theater 3000 voice-over jokes to be entertainingly terrible. If you can enjoy laughing at a bad movie, definitely add this one to your list". DVD Verdict's Gordon Sullivan responded well to the film, writing, "In some ways there's nothing special about ThanksKilling—it's a typical slasher-style creature-feature where a group of college kids are menaced by a holiday themed killer who spouts one liners. However, ThanksKilling knows how to tickle the low-budget funny bone in particularly effective ways" and "The film itself is a campy low-budget horror flick that gets in and out in little over an hour, delivering the goods all the while. The extras are a little slight, but overall, this disc should please genre fans".