Monday, November 29, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas shopping season is among us. Wherever you go, retail stores compete for your holiday dollar while charities simultaneously vie for your donations, monetary or otherwise. But as a sendoff for the prior year's events, the group we gathered for Thanksgiving decided to check out a horror film whose trailer had briefly made the rounds on Facebook. When I first saw the trailer for Thankskilling, it was obvious to me that the film was going to be bad and intended to be, with low budget, poor acting and trite dialogue and characters composing an entertaining if uninspiring smattering of clips. Frankly, I was sure I'd never see the final product and didn't really care whether I did or not, so poor was the quality of what I saw. Fast-forward to Thanksgiving night, when my friend Peter announced that Thankskilling was indeed available to view - and on Netflix streaming, no less - and worked it out with everyone that this was the film we were going to see that night.

Now, I'm not embarrassed to admit I was a little interested to see this film at the time. For one thing, I had a few beers in me by this point, and enough Thanksgiving grub in my belly that my judgment was understandably impaired.Also, while the trailer was undeniably awful, it did have one thing going for it: the potential for cult popularity. After all, how many movies are you going to see that include paranormal, homicidal turkeys who can apparently shoot guns, drive cars, and, naturally, kill college students? That was my thought process going into watching this film, though the outcome was rather closer to my initial trailer critique.

Surprisingly, the film sports animation better than some of it's big budget counterparts
Apparently, some Native American witchdoctor was insulted by American settlers over 500 years ago, and in retaliation, this mage summoned a demonic and insult-spewing turkey to murder all the white people it meets. Cut to present day, and this jive turkey has been resurrected in time to meet five college kids on their way home for Thanksgiving break. Naturally chaos ensues, and what follows is a fairly cliched plot that has no real surprises and no questions to ask except for exactly how much in the way of narcotics were ingested in making this film.

Scream! You're in a bad horror film!
First, let's look at the story. The five credited writers (it took FIVE writers to put this crap together?) were obviously high on opiated throughout the creative process. They didn't let little things like logic or subtlety or talent get in the way of writing the kind of film they wanted to display to the world. Certain things about the murderous turkey are unexplained or glossed over, such as how he can handle a shotgun, drive a car, or where he suddenly gets a tee pee. Also, why any of the characters would be friends with one another is seriously in question, as the five are about as far from one another on the personality matrix as could possibly be. And seriously, why does nobody even notice when the turkey wears a disguise that wouldn't fool a five year-old?

The turkey fools the characters, but we all know it's just a rubber glove
The acting isn't much better. Kristen 'The Good Girl' is supposed to be the never-give-up survivor type, but Lindsey Anderson doesn't have talent to make that appear genuine. Johnny 'The Jock' is portrayed as a smug footballer by Lance Predmore. At least Johnny has an actual backstory, as he has a feud with his father simply because he didn't make first-string quarterback. Ryan Francis overplays the dorky Darren 'The Nerd'. So does Aaron Ringhiser-Carlson as Billy 'The Hick'. And Natasha Cordova carries a standard Beverly Hills accent into her role of Ali 'The Slut'. With the exception of Johnny, there isn't any semblance of depth to any of the characters, and no reason to relate to - let alone like - any of them. None of the actors are particularly talented, though at least Cordova and Predmore did somewhat good jobs in portraying cliches, which is all they really needed to do. Other roles, including an old guy calling himself General Bastard as an old hermit named Oscar and Chuck Lamb as Sheriff Roud are too ridiculous to recount. The turkey's voice is not credited as far as I can tell, but except for a few witty one-liners, there isn't a much to even make a likable villain out of.

I really can't explain this
I can't stress this enough; Thankskilling was obviously made with the help of massive amounts of drugs, both legal and illegal. And I think that's the only way to enjoy watching the film too. Some may think that by the point you witness a song number about two of the characters being best friends, it's jumped the shark and admitted that it was never meant to be anything but a big joke. I, however, pretty much thought that as soon as I saw the trailer, so it was for me more of the same. If anything, it's an insanely retarded horror film with poor plotting, poor acting, mediocre dialogue and a budget so low it could do the limbo. If the killer turkey had been remotely interesting it would have been better, but cult status might be beyond even this films low reach.. There are SOME good bits, such as the film's theme interesting theme song and an opening so insanely ludicrous it'll make you laugh. But again you'd have to be as high as the filmmakers were, so some pre-Thankskilling drinking may be in order. I can't by any means suggest this film to anybody with a pulse, but if you are really hard up for a Thanksgiving-themed slasher flick, it's out there. It may be horrible, but under the right conditions you MIGHT be able to sneak some enjoyment out of it.

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