Have you ever watched a movie that is so bad it is actually good? You would be hard-pressed to find a flick that offends cinema as grotesquely as the crude black comedy/horror movie ThansKilling. The micro budget movie follows a fowl-mouthed demonic turkey who terrorizes a group of college kids. The turkey and props are campy and the dialogue is beyond blue. With a tag line of “Gooble, Gooble, Mothef—,” the movie is a crude way to enjoy the holiday, but is ThanksKilling a Thanksgiving classic?
ThanksKilling was created by then-Loyola Maramount University students Kevin Stewart and Jordan Downey and has attained a cult following since its DVD release in 2008. The main star of the film is a turkey who was demonized by a Native American hoping to enact vengeance against pilgrims during the first Thanksgiving. The turkey intercepts the students on their way home from school and goes on a bloodthirsty rampage. As gore, lewdness, and highly offensive situations fly around onscreen, the crew battles the turkey with all sorts of ineffective methods.
The movie was filmed on a mere $3,500 budget, but the low quality of the production factors into the joy of the film. The turkey puppet is so rudimentary that it promotes the movie’s comedy vibe. With a 70-minute running length, ThanksKilling does not waste the audience’s time or take itself too seriously. The movie is astutely self-aware and never strays that far from being a bawdy slasher comedy.
Even though Thanksgiving is such a popular holiday, the fourth Thursday in November lacks a wide range of quality movies. Outside of the John Candy/Steve Martin classic Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, the category is skimpy. Thanksgiving is one of three holidays in Rocky, but Paulie chucking a bird outside of the row home is not exactly a warm and fuzzy family moment. Movies like Alice’s Restaurant and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving fill out a very short list of Thanksgiving films.
With such limited competition, ThanksKilling is on the list of classic Thanksgiving films by default. Like Die Hard, the fact that the film takes place on the holiday give it an unusual relationship with the day it revolves around despite an anti-family vibe. It is debatable if ThanksKilling is even the Die Hard of Thanksgiving movies, but it may be the closest thing that we have. It is a mindless, fun slasher movie where the protagonist has a wattle. It is not Citizen Kane, but ThanksKilling is a pretty fun cult classic (for a select, low standards audience).