Honestly — given the time of year, and the sort of blog this is that I’m supposedly “running” here, I would be remiss in my duties not to review backyard auteur Jordan Downey’s shot-in-Granville-Ohio-for $3,500 2009 effort ThanksKilling, wouldn’t I? Yes, I would. I really, really would.
So what exactly is it we’ve got here? 70 minutes (a runtime that would make Herschell Gordon Lewis proud) of pure tongue-in-cheek mayhem featuring a homicidal mutant turkey that kills college kids. And some boobs. Really, that pretty much sums it up. The rubber turkey (at least, I think it’s rubber) is hardly impressive, the gore effects are hardly impressive, and the boobs are hardly impressive, but hey — none of it’s really meant to be. We’re talking, after all, about a flick that boasts the (admittedly genius) tagline of “Gobble Gobble, Motherfucker!,” that lists the principal characters in the end credits as “The Jock, ” The Nerd,” “The Good Girl,” “The Hot Girl,” “The Sensitive Girl,” “The Funny Fat Guy” and “The Hick,” respectively, and that boasts right there in bold type on its one-sheet about having naked (non-turkey) breasts less than a minute into the proceedings, so you know exactly what you’re getting into here.
And, really, knowing what you’re getting into is what ThanksKilling is all about. Could you reinvent the wheel with 3500 bucks and a few friends? I kinda doubt it, so why even try? Instead, Downey, co-writer Kevin Stewart, and their cohorts are just concerned with having as much fun with their HD camera as possible and paying homage to all those holiday horrors we all grew up with ( honestly, there are horror flicks based around Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s Eve/Day, July 4th — only Arbor Day, it seems remains sacred, and you can bet that won’t last forever) by digging in and giving the whole slasher-spoof thing the ol’ college try (and yes, this thing really does feel — and look — very much like a student film, even though it isn’t).
I can’t say their efforts are particularly inspired, by any means, but they’re certainly not wasted, either — truth be told ThanksKilling really is good, stupid, disposable fun, with lines so cheesy you have no choice but to groan, production values so substandard you can’t help but laugh, and the best homicidal turkey this side of the classic Blood Freak (not, in fairness, that there have been very many — or even any — in between). Like I said, knowing what you’re getting into is the name of the game here. The killer turkey is even named — you probably guessed it! — Turkie, so hey, there ya go. Putting any thought into this thing as you watch it is overthinking things.
As an added plus, if you’re a Netflix member, you can catch this turkey (sorry, had to) for free, since it’s available via instant streaming (that’s how I watched it, so while it’s also available on DVD I can’t fairly comment on whatever extras it may or may not contain, nor on the technical specifications or what have you), so you really have nothing to lose but barely over and hour of your life if you decide to give it a shot. I think you’ll be glad you did, and honestly, I hope that Hollywood’s paying attention to this flick and others like it, because if a few folks in the middle of BF Egypt can deliver everything you would expect with $3,500 then the major studios should feel downright ashamed of themselves for failing to pony up the goods so frequently with budgets literally hundreds of millions of times larger.
The spirit of DIY cinematic pioneers like Don Dohler definitely lives on in the Jordan Downeys of the world, and while I kind of miss the obvious earnestness of suburban Baltimore’s John -Carpenter-of-the-cul-de-sac and his fellow toilers in obscurity, I can’t blame today’s no-budget generation for openly not taking their efforts very seriously, since modern audiences are justly much more cynical due to the fact that we literally have seen it all before (even homicidal turkeys). So just sit back and enjoy the ride both for what is and what it’s worth — which, as we’ve already established, is less than four grand. If ya don’t like it, there’s literally no reason at this point why you can’t try to come up with something better yourself, all you need is a camera, some friends, and some free time.