No, the title isn’t wrong. We’ll get to it later. Yesterday I spent 600 words of your time explaining that watching bad movies like ThanksKilling is a form of therapy for me. Sometimes you need to stare at the void and while other people might clean up street trash while jogging or bake bread for homeless dogs, I get very drunk, wake up at 5 a.m. the next day and watch something horrible. The hangover is crucial. Could you tell while you were reading it?
Anyway, the Amazon Prime gods have blessed me again, by having ThanksKilling 3 (we’ll get to it) available for the low low price of $0.00. I was very prepared to pay for both of these movies, but this freemium situation makes me feel blessed / means I have more money for the beer I wish I had been drinking while watching this movie. Now, the first thing I noticed when searching ThanksKilling 3 is 1. It has 2 stars and 115 reviews (versus ThanksKilling‘s 4 stars with 203 reviews). 2. It’s listed as an arthouse film 3. It is 20ish minutes longer than the first movie. Each fact was more perplexing than the last.
Despite my intuition telling me to watch anything (literally anything) instead, I pressed that giant blue play button. Thankskilling 3 immediately kicks off with the franchises trademark up close shot of a woman’s nipple (does two movies make a franchise?) and from there, dives into the question we’ve all been asking, where the hell is ThanksKilling 2? In the TK3 universe, it’s a movie that’s so bad anyone who watched it would be immediately killed by the demonic turkey, which is why almost every DVD copy has been destroyed.
In reality, ThanksKilling: The Sequel (or The Beaquel, as it was originally called) was a Kickstarter film. Launched on May 8, 2011, it had a goal of raising $100,000 (as opposed to the original film’s $3,500). After ending their campaign on August 6 with $112,248, things seemed to be going as well as any other Kickstarter (and by that I mean months of no updates and then a trickle of information). On April 20, 2012 it was officially announced that ThanksKilling 2 would take place in space (as the creators had always promised) and it was confirmed that shooting had wrapped. There was also a promise that TK2 would be released on June 8 of that year.
On July 22, the creators stated that they were three weeks away from finishing the sequel (shocker). It wasn’t until September 24 that we get our first notion that the scant Kickstarter money had gone to their heads. There were cryptic posts claiming “Only one copy remains…” popping up on the daily. Finally, on October 9, TK3 was officially announced. In the post, writer Jordan Downey admits that they had been planning the demise of TK2 since January 2011 as a fun way to joke about horror sequels. From that point on, their Kickstart blog is dominated by more classic forms of advertising, including movie poster reveals, trailer announcements and screening updates.
I include all of this mostly useless information, because it makes me feel better about the 99 minutes I spent watching TK3 last night. A hodgepodge of puppetry, animation, live acting, science fiction and horror, TK3 is the living embodiment of that one joke you have with your best friend that doesn’t make any sense. Because you’re a reasonable human, you would never repeat that joke to anybody. They (understandably) wouldn’t think it was funny. Except, these guys took over $100,000 and decided that joke was good enough to become real. And then I sat down and watched it.
To be clear, I slept through a couple scenes and fast forwarded through parts of the end, but I got the gist of the movie. And the gist is that it’s bad. TK1 had a sort of minimalist charm, or at the very least, a simplicity that made it feel comforting. TK3 is nothing but a product of its time. In 2011, we’d just discovered what “meta” meant and we all thought it was hilarious. In 2011, Kickstarter was still shiny and new. We had no idea that it would become a playground for scammers and vaporware.
Another issue that became obvious during my “research” (does spending 15 minutes wandering through the abandoned graveyard that is the TK3 Kickstarter count as research?), is that once creators Jordan Downey & Kevin Stewart got a whiff of that sweet Internet cash, they brought on all of their weird friends. Between the useless animation and the various puppet pals that join us on this romp through the solar system, it feels like every person Downey and Stewart knew IRL got their hands on this movie.
More than anything, this movie reminded me that 2009-2012 was a much worse time than I remembered. It was the era of web shows (that universally do not hold up) and I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. Maybe 10 years from now, TK3 will have the old time-y charm of TK1… But in 2018, it feels like the worst kind of throwback.