When I think of 2008, I think of high school and crushes and math homework and AP tests. I think of being stuck in the deep suburbs of Maryland and not having my license. I think of Saw V and my bike and my high school friends. I don’t think of killer turkeys and sexy pilgrim outfits, but because of Jordan Downey, Brad Schulz and their crew of jokesters (my god I can’t believe it took more than one person to write this movie), I’ll never be able to think of anything else.
In the year of our lord 2008, Downey, Schulz and more released ThanksKilling, the first Thanksgiving themed horror movie since 1981’s Home Sweet Home. The film follows a band of five college students as they road trip home for Thanksgiving break. A demonic turkey is awakened when a cute dog named Flashy pees on its grave, and the turkey vows to murder any white people it sees. He takes a particular liking to our group of college students and runs around town murdering them / the people they love.
I can only imagine they were trying to corner an underutilized slice of the horror holiday market. They probably wanted to do for Thanksgiving what Leprechaun did for Saint Patrick’s Day, give people in their late teens / early twenties something to watch while they got stoned out of their minds on a holiday they don’t really care about.
Unfortunately, ThanksKilling doesn’t have the same unshakable star power and lightning bolt of charisma that kept the Leprechaun franchise going strong (Warwick Davis is the man). They don’t have a good script. They don’t have an interesting premise. They don’t have good actors. They don’t have good props. There isn’t much going for this movie. There’s no good reason why you should take 70 minutes out of your day to watch ThanksKilling. Even if it’s free on Amazon Prime, and let’s be honest with ourselves, as much as we talk about hating Amazon and HQ2, we’re all still paying that bill.
What it does have is a couple of scenes with some surprisingly good gore (it’s bad / good, but it’s still good), one scene of topless murder action (despite its raunchiness, the nudity is surprisingly sparse) and an almost meditative quality.
I was never a Sharknado girl. I don’t like movies that use their badness as a ploy to make money. They’re too frantic, too over the top. They might have bad actors and horrible props and offensive lines, but they don’t have that luxurious wrongness that comes with a truly bad film. They go too fast, but actual bad movies almost always go too slow. They stick on one theme, one line, one exchange for far longer than they should. Drawing everything out until there’s nothing left.
I love that feeling. I love getting lost in wooden acting and butchered metaphors. The first time I saw Anna Biller’s Viva, an erotic love letter to the exploitation films of the ’60s, it felt like I was in a trance. Every line was so monotonous. Scenes might change, characters might make ridiculous decisions and say stupid things, but there wasn’t any real emotion. It was all too formulaic for anything to be at stake.
Even when bad movies try to be offensive (and most of them do), it feels like nothing. Watching a bad movie is like staring into the void. It might stare back, but there’s nothing there. You don’t have to try, think or feel. You just soak it all in. You just consume it. Like a good old fashioned Thanksgiving dinner.