When will homemade horror filmmakers finally "get" it - attempted badness is never as good as actual awfulness. No matter how much you love The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, it can never be as delightful as a real dud like The Barn That Dripped Blood or Attack of the Crab Monsters. So when someone sets out to make a purposefully pathetic fright flick, odds are they won't succeed and no matter how hard co-writer/producer Kevin Stewart and co-writer/director Jordan Downey try, their holiday themed Thankskilling comes across as underbaked and underdeveloped. Sure, the cover art proclaims it is "The Best Worst Movie Ever" (take that, Troll 2), but the end result is not as funny as it is flimsy, aimed at a certain pharmaceutically enhanced demographic and destined to make them (and few others) happy.
In the time of the pilgrims, a topless babe is attacked by a talking Turkey. Jump forward a few eons and a group of teens are heading home for Thanksgiving break. Along the way, their car breaks down, and they have to spend the night in the woods. There, they swap ghost stories including one involving a murderous fowl and its traditional dinner death wish. Before you know it, a puppy is throwing a whizz and our killer culinary mainstay is unearthed. It then shows up and starts slaughtering. The survivors head home, only to meet the ticked off turkey with a bad attitude every step along the way. The only answer is a traditional Satanic sacrifice - or something like that. Otherwise, this pissed-off pullet with a bevy of one-liners will murder anyone it doesn't like - and apparently, it hates everyone.
It's seems like a sin to hate on Thankskilling. You can tell a lot of time was spent on this holiday horror romp, most of it coming up with a clever way of realizing a psycho piece of poultry who can utilize weaponry and spew Schwarzenegger level bon mots. Too bad the rest of the experience is so slight. From the abundance of gore (a good thing) to the lack of real gratuity (a bad thing), the filmmakers can't find a proper genre balance. Instead, it's all 'Turkie,' all the time. In fact, the only time the plastic bird isn't strutting around cracking wise is when the rest of the amateur cast is fumbling around, trying to act. The level of performance here is truly amateurish. One supposed thespian can't even do a decent redneck sheriff (which is Community College Level Characterization 101, one imagines). So if all you care about is a cartoon creature with a vulgar mouth and lots of lame jokes at his disposal, you'll love Thankskilling. The rest of the horror fanbase may want something a bit more meaningful, no matter the 'so bad, it's good' vibe.
On the other hand, if you do more bong hits before breakfast than Rastafarians manage in a month, you'll think Thankskilling is a classic. You'll mindlessly snicker every time this tacky bird makes with the mirth and free associate sexually on all the clothed ladies in the cast. Sure, the opening shot is boob city, but they are more MILF mammaries than anything pseudo stripper. Similarly, the two other female leads never come close to dropping blou. Apparently, one rack is all Thankskilling can manage. Granted, there is one really inventive moment in this movie. After returning to her home, our patented last girl comes across our fiend wearing her father's face ala The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Who cares if the full sized man now has a mug that's been "shrunk" to fit a two foot turkey, or that no one notices that Dad's voice is 100% different. As they interact with this clever special effect, Thankskilling argues for what it could be. The need to mesh farce with fear is readily apparent in every scene. The failure here is that instead of coming together, the concepts are at cross purposes.
Shot on an extremely low budget and clearly put through the post-production mill upon transfer, the actual image offered by MVD Visual for Thankskilling isn't that bad. It's camcorder quality, but it defies the standard struggles most homemade movies have. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is colorful if lacking contrast, providing some detail and some drop out. All in all, it beats most of its competitors in the realm of technical accomplishment.
Overdosing on a combination of shoe-gazing indie snoozers and punk pop poseurs, the soundtrack here really benefits from a spruced up Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix. When the tunes are cranking, the channels are championed. There is also a Stereo offering that's good, but not on par with the larger sonic set-up. In either configuration, the dopey dialogue remains easily understandable. Sigh.
First up, there is an interesting audio commentary featuring the intrepid duo of Stewart and Downey and it really is a lot of fun. While they tend to over-praise the results, their sense of fun is infectious. After that, we get a blooper reel (boring) and a collection of stills. Of these, the most interesting is the fan art submitted for the project. Clearly, some people have way too much time (and too much imagination) on their hands.
Let's face it - any movie that sees a dog's urine unleashing an unholy seasonal Hell beast from Satan's own private pilgrim fest can't be all bad - and when it sticks to the bird, Thankskilling is tolerable. It's not Highly or Recommended tolerable, but a Rent It seems to fit the fun you will have. Of course, going one toke over the line may provide even more express enjoyment. Again, trying to be terrible is never as effect as letting your lameness seep out naturally. Thankskilling wants to be a purposed Plan 9 from Outer Space. What it winds up being as a decent, if derivative, chore...all bird braining aside.