Posts Tagged ‘Jordan Downey’

You’ve gotta hand it to Granville, Ohio-based director Jordan Downey and his writing partner, Kevin Stewart. When their 2009 holiday-horror spoof ThanksKilling defied the odds by both managing to get notices and actually make a few bucks, they didn’t let their modest taste of genre “success” go to their heads and consequently expand their horizons further than they were capable of reaching. Instead, they started up a campaign on Kickstarter to hustle up the funding necessary to deliver their audience an even bigger helping of exactly what we want.

The results — three years and an impressive $100,000 later — is ThanksKilling 3, another shot-on-HD effort (available via Amazon streaming for the bargain price of $3.99, with a DVD release forthcoming, I would assume, at some point) that stays true to its absurd premise while considerably upping the ante both in terms of gore and general out-and-out OTT idiocy. Sure, the production values are a bit higher, but the “Hey, we made this fucking this ourselves!” ethos is still at the beating heart of the proceedings here.

First off, just to set the record straight — there is no ThanksKilling 2. At least not in the real world. Such a flick does, however, exist  on paper — the paper the script for this one was written on. Yup, our plot here centers around the efforts of everyone’s favorite homicidal gobbler, Turkie, to kill his way through anyone and everyone who may have seen, or had a hand in, the production of the fictitious second film in the ThanksKilling (non-) trilogy, a movie which was apparently so bad that anyone who’s laid eyes on it needs to die before they can spread the word that it even exists. Presently, the only copy left is existence is in the clutches of a group of raunchy puppets.

Now, here comes the part where you need to reassure yourself that yes, you really did read this right (as if you didn’t just do that) — Turkie’s kill list includes a rapping grandma, a(nother) puppet in search of her lost brain, and a bisexual space worm. Out to stop him are the wig-bedecked inventor of something called the PluckMaster 3000, the head of security at a place called ThanksgivingLand, and a WiseTurkey. To say you really have to see it to believe it is an understatement of the highest order.

And while the budget here may be (considerably) higher than the first time around, fear not! Everything looks as cheap as ever — maybe even cheaper, if such a thing is humanly possible. And we even get glimpses of places called FeatherWorld and Turkey Hell. Honestly, what’s not to love?

I admit, some of the charm (if that’s the word we’re looking for) of the first film is lost here in the more ambitious (again, if that’s the word we’re looking for) sequel, but all in all things are still pretty much exactly what you think they’re going to be here, with the stupid cranked all the way up into overdrive. And hey — in the end, no matter how crazed it is,  it still makes a hell of a lot more sense than people trampling over each other for Black Friday “door-buster” specials.

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.