Made for under $3,500 and with a runtime of a little over an hour, ThanksKilling is ultra low-budget film making at its badly-acted best.
There is a certain charm to ultra low-budget films. While the Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity are the two most commonly used examples for what can be done on a small budget, ThanksKilling also deserves mention. Filmed in a style reminiscent of Leprechaun, Jack Frost, and other equally so-bad-they’re-good movies, ThanksKilling ups the ante through its ludicrous plot: A bunch of college kids (each of whom fulfill a stereotype: the dumb whore, the good kid, the nice jock, the fat party animal, and the socially inept geek) are on their way home for Thanksgiving break. Along the way, their Jeep breaks down, and they encounter a legendary killer turkey, summoned shortly after the first Thanksgiving hundreds of years ago. If that wasn’t cheesy enough, not only is this a killer turkey, but it’s a racist, constantly-cussing killer turkey who humps everything he sees and kills people with an axe. Chaos ensues, as the turkey slowly hunts down the kids and their families, one by one. It’s every bit as lame and awesome as it sounds
Despite the low budget, horrible acting, and laughable effects, there is a lot that ThanksKilling gets right. The turkey himself is a very well made hand puppet, seemingly out of latex. You never really see his entire body in a shot, but his eyes are expressive and some of his movements are fairly complicated. I’m not sure who they got to actually build this thing, but they did a great job considering what they had to work with. The cinematography is equally impressive, with creative camera angles and some interestingly framed shots. Thanks to when the film was released (2009), amateur camera technology provides good quality video, despite the low budget. The image quality is quite clear, with great detail and no graininess appearing on a 42″ 1080p flatscreen. The audio mix is equally well done, with amusing sound effects, well timed music, and easy-to-hear voices.
True to low-budget form, the script and the acting are both terrible and hilarious. Some of the jokes that are tossed around are pure comedy gold, even if they are lacking in originality or creativity. The killer turkey steals the show, with some truly offensive lines of dialogue that stream out of his beak during almost every scene he appears in. Speaking of offensive, there is plenty to offend in this film. Nudity, violence, language…definitely not one for the kiddies. Hell, the very first shot in the movie is a close up of some naked (fairly large) breasts.
All around, ThanksKilling is a great, low-budget movie, made more fun if watched in a large group. Despite its over-the-top acting and bad script, it really is quite entertaining. If you are into cheesy horror movies that poke fun at themselves, make sure this one has a place on your shelf.