After you’ve had your fill of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, it’s time to watch a movie, but what horror movie do you watch on Thanksgiving?
Starting with John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), the horror genre has often looked to well-known holidays for inspiration. For Valentine’s Day, we have My Bloody Valentine (1981), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), and Pontypool (2009); for the Fourth of July, there’s Jaws (1975), Return of the Living Dead (1985), and Uncle Sam (1996); and for Christmas—perhaps the most exploited horror holiday—we have movies like Krampus (2015), Rare Exports (2010), P2 (2007), Gremlins (1984), Black Christmas (1974), and Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984).
But Thanksgiving is the rare holiday with few horror-movie tie-ins, and I think I know why: it’s hard to make a turkey-centric holiday scary.
Could you imagine a movie where a killer turkey makes comedic quips à la Freddy Krueger? It would be unbelievably stupid. No one would watch it. It would be the kind of movie that litters the bins at Walmart. Surely, such a movie doesn’t exist in the annals of cinema.
Well, dear reader, this may be shocking to hear, but there is such a movie and it’s called ThanksKilling (2008). And, against all odds, I’m here to tell you that ThanksKilling should be your go-to Thanksgiving movie. It’s definitely not a family movie, however, so don’t plop the kiddies down in front of this one. This is the kind of movie you watch with your friends while you toss back a few whiskey-infused ciders or partake in some mind-altering substances…if you catch my drift, and by the size of your pupils, I think you do.
In ThanksKilling, five college students head home to Crawl Berg (formerly spelled “Crawberg”) to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. Not being a film built on subtlety, the stereotypical horror character archetypes are on full display: there’s a good girl, a jock, a redneck, a sexy ditz, and a nerd. When a dog pees on a totem pole, bringing a killer turkey back to life from the 1600s—yes, that’s how it really goes down—the college students are attacked one-by-one in increasingly comical ways.
For a movie that promises boobs in the first second on the front cover (100% real), there’s an over-abundance of absurdity on display in ThanksKilling. The killer turkey is a shoddy puppet with a tongue-in-cheek voiceover; the acting smells and looks like a fresh-baked ham; and the soundtrack rips in all its mid-2000s glory. There’s even an inexplicable scene where the wife of the town’s sheriff calls for a divorce after “taking a dump” in her husband’s coffee. That husband, by the way, is the internet-famous Dead Body Guy (I’m just as confused as you are). And, yes, I know you were thinking about it already, so I’ll go ahead and spoil it for you: the turkey f#%@s one of the cast members.
And, trust me, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This is the first Thanksgiving where you won’t ask for seconds because you’ll get your fill of absurdity with just one viewing.
But through it all, ThanksKilling never outstays its welcome. It’s hilarious, outrageous, and disgusting every second of its brief, hour-and-10-minute runtime.
Trigger warning: they do drop the “F” bomb a few times—not that one, the other one. The Kelly Rowland in Freddy vs. Jason (2003) one. Yeah, it’s not a good look. This movie hasn’t aged well in all places.
Even with that fault, however, ThanksKilling has risen to cult status within the horror-movie community, spawning a sequel (don’t watch it, it’s terrible) and even a stage musical adaptation.
So, if you’re a fan of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (2003) or Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), let me introduce you to writer/director Jordan Downey’s so-bad-it’s-good masterpiece, ThanksKilling.