Friday, October 7, 2016

ThanksKilling

I laughed a couple of times during Thankskilling (2009), proving, despite claims to the contrary, I can laugh at stupid.

At one point during the movie, the promiscuous girl unknowingly has sex with the evil Turkie, an evil turkey. When she realizes the truth, he declares, "You just got stuffed," just before he kills her. Hey, if I can't appreciate a foul-mouthed, pun-spouting, murdering turkey puppet, I wouldn't be watching movies.

The other laugh occurs shortly thereafter. The victim's friends show up at her house. They find a feather and the wrapper for a gravy-flavored condom. I have no idea if there really exists gravy-flavored condoms, but I know plenty of people who would appreciate them.

After a brief opening featuring a topless pilgrim being killed by the aforementioned Turkie, ThanksKilling jumps to the present with the usual group of college students driving home for Thanksgiving break - the jock, the fat guy, the nerd, the slut, and the virginal girl. When their car breaks down, they camp for the night in the woods, not knowing this is the ancient Indian territory where Turkie had his rampage centuries ago. Now, after being reanimated by a peeing dog (yes, they ripped off A Nightmare on Elm Street 4), Turkie goes after the kids, hungry for blood.

I almost feel guilty reviewing ThanksKilling. Obviously, a low-budget piece of amateur work, it's barely above the level of a home movie. Nothing about it resembles professional quality, and even with a short running length (66 minutes), its premise wears very thin very quickly. The acting is bad, the writing is bad, the cinematography is bad, and the production values are bad. The action consists of actors wrestling with a puppet. Sometimes, they mix it up by giving the turkey a gun or an ax.

But already, I'm hearing voices from the gallery. It's supposed to be bad! It's not taking itself seriously! It's making fun of horror cliches!

ThanksKilling
 falls into the trap many bad parodies fall into: it's not enough just to point out the cliches and stereotypes; there has to be a joke in there somewhere, not just an acknowledgment that what you're doing is ridiculous. Characters wandering off alone even when they know a killer is after them is a cliche. Characters wandering off alone even when they know a killer is after them but stating aloud that that's exactly what they're doing is not funny.

Take the scene where Turkie meets one of the characters' father. Turkie is in disguise (he's wearing Groucho Marx glasses and nose), posing as a friend. That's kind of a funny setup, but nothing is really done with the idea. The movie is satisfied with the dad being an idiot who doesn't realize he's talking to a homicidal turkey, even though it's wearing a paper-thin disguise. The dad is also wearing a turkey costume because funny outfits are funny, right?

Plus, the whole it's-supposed-to-be-bad notion. Maybe it's just me, but movies that are deliberately bad are nowhere as much fun as the movies that try their hardest to be good but fail miserably. The blissful cluelessness of Ed Wood and the self-assured ineptitude of Tommy Wiseau make their efforts all the more enjoyable because they shot for the moon and failed spectacularly. When you set out to make a bad movie and succeed, it's meeting very low expectations.

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