DVD Review: ThanksKilling 3

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MSRP $16.95
RATED Not Rated
STUDIO Gravitas Ventures
• Behind the Beak Featurettes
• Behind the Scenes Gallery
• Official Stills Gallery
• TK3 Drinking Game
• Flowis’ Rap Video
• Pluckmaster 3000 Infomercial
• Technical Commentary
• “How Did We End Up Here” Commentary

The Pitch

A movie about a foul-mouthed killer turkey, Thanksgiving puns, a brainless muppet, a rapping grandmother, and a talking DVD that is both weirder and more sophomoric than that sounds.

The Humans

Daniel Usaj, Jordan Downey, Kevin Stewart, Marc M

The Nutshell

In the first movie ever to skip its own sequel, this puppet-fueled follow-up to the holiday-themed cult favorite ThanksKilling follows fowl-mouthed villain Turkie on a ruthless hunt for the last copy of ThanksKilling 2.

The Lowdown

ThanksKilling is not what anyone would call a “good” movie, but it was a shitty little straight-to-DVD slasher comedy that somehow stood out among the Jack Frosts, Peter Rottentails, Wrestlemaniacs, and Rumplestiltskins of the world. Turkie (the name originally settled upon for the killer turkey in the movie) was pretty much the only good thing about the movie and he had a charm not unlike Warwick Davis’ Leprechaun or Andrew Divoff’s Wishmaster.

The creators wrote themselves into a corner with the “ThanksKilling Will Continue in Space” tag they jokingly threw onto the previous movie. While I would have liked to see their take on Leprechaun 4, there was never going to be a big enough budget for that kind of thing. So they took to Kickstarter and got funding for ThanksKilling 3, circumventing the space sequel and pulling a Gremlins 2: The New Batch on their sophomore effort.

I have watched some weird movies during my tenure as a DVD reviewer for this website. I watched a man battle his tentacled demonic heart to the death (Night of the Tentacles); I have watched a paint-by-numbers slasher about a Christian fundamentalist who becomes homicidal after taking acid turn into a movie about Greek titans reborn as American teenagers that involved zombies, a man who can grow guns from his body, and a game of tennis that uses car doors for rackets and a spinning axe for the ball (Dropping Evil); I have seen a movie where grown men hunted clowns as though they were some manner of exotic animal (Clown Hunt) so you should know that I’m a bit of an authority on the subject when I say that this movie is some of the weirdest shit I have ever seen.

Production Values!

ThanksKilling 3 opens on an astronaut floating in space, her suit has holes for her breasts to fit though cut into it so that they can fulfill the “boobs in the first second” promise on the front of the box. In swoops Turkie in a space fighter jet made from a turkey baster and blows her to bits saying, “Nice tits bitch… IN SPACE!” A fellow pilot swoops in next to him, a pumpkin pie “creatively” named Pie Lett (In a rare moment of restraint, Pie does not tell Turkie to “Do a barrel roll”). We then get an opening narration telling us that ThanksKilling 2 was the worst movie ever made and that all but one copy were destroyed. The box art proclaims that this is the first movie to skip its sequel, ignoring the original Star Wars trilogy, Malevolence, the Naked Gun sequels, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and the Oscar-snubbed Leonard Part 6.

Recounting the plot of this movie is a fool’s errand, I have described what is literally the most structured scene in the entire run-time so I’ll just kind of go through the characters. The other characters are: Yomi, a traditional style Muppet-looking hand puppet who has literally lost her mind (she’s the hero); Uncle Donny, a powdered wig wearing TV pitchman/inventor who dreams of opening a Thanksgiving themed amusement park; Rhonda Worm and Muff, a talking bisexual worm and a dimwitted android sent to stop Turkie; and Flowis, a rapping grandmother voiced by Sick Animation’s Marc M (If you’re not familiar with Sick Animation, consider THIS a very Not-Safe-For-Work introduction).

What follows plays like a stream of consciousness story told by two people passing a joint back and forth. Things just kind of happen and they’re nonsensical and ridiculous and drawn out, there’s puns, there’s dick jokes, there’s animated vignettes, there’s songs. It’s like the world’s longest Funny or Die sketch with roughly the same hit-to-miss ratio. Much like Quentin Dupiex’s Rubber, a movie that apparently only I disliked, it’s just a bit too self-aware and clever for its own good.

I am a lover of gonzo horror, it is the last bastion of true creativity and original ideas in movies and the last true home of the good old drive-in style sleazy horror movies, but a lot of gonzo directors fail to realize what makes the genre so entertaining. Yes, gonzo is characterized by being unpredictable; a good gonzo movie can go anywhere and do anything unexpected with no rhyme or reason, but it still has a structure and it’s still going somewhere. Where Rubber failed was to put too much value in its own meta-context and spend most of its run-time trading on non-sequitur humor. ThanksKilling 3 relies on a lot of sex jokes, non-sequitur humor, and Thanksgiving puns and that’s about all it has under its belt. Some of them work, but most of them don’t, and the movie’s kind of a slog as a result.

Phyllis Diller’s starting to show her age.

At several points throughout, the general gross-out style and the prevalence of so many puppets reminded me of Peter Jackson’s Meet the Feebles. I would say Meet the Feebles influenced this movie a great deal and Thankskilling 3 is kind of Labyrinth (or perhaps Dark Crystal?) to FeeblesThe Muppet Show. Unfortunately this comparison only served to make me wish I was watching that movie; which had a much better grasp on its world, its ideas, its characters, and its jokes than this one did. Every scene basically serves as a short sketch and there’s a lot of little asides that are just there because they are.

Still, the creators didn’t put that crowd-sourcing money to waste. The picture and sound quality are amazing, the puppet work is wonderful except in the parts where it’s intentionally bad. The acting is all well-done except where it’s supposed to come across as stilted. The music is catchy and combined with the lighting work it really drives just about all of the action scenes. The only part of this movie that feels tossed-off is the script and that’s a shame because Writer/Director Jordan Downey has improved as a film-maker in almost every way.

I want to love this movie so much but it’s really just drawn-out and dumb in a way that’s not as fun as it thinks it is. ThanksKilling was deeply flawed but fun, ThanksKilling 3 is technically brilliant and bad. Hopefully the third time will be the charm for Downey but this one’s a real… bad movie. Fuck your turkey puns!

The Package

In the interest of sparing no expense, this disc is loaded with more special features than anyone could ever want for a movie like this. There’s feauturettes, two commentaries, a drinking game with screen prompts that probably won’t cause you to die of alcohol poisoning, and a couple supplementary videos.

It’s a Region 0 disc, because fuck region codes.


Out of a Possible 5 Stars

Since Kickstarter has already paid for this movie and I think your hard earned dollars are far better spent elsewhere, let me suggest a few gonzo horror movies that you’d be better off supporting if you’re into this kind of thing:

The Taint – A sickeningly offensive movie about tainted water that turns men into misogynists that takes that concept to its logically fucked up conclusion. It’s hilarious and really well made.

Adam Chaplin: Violent Avenger – It’s like a gothic Italian Fist of the North Star.

Slime City Massacre – An 80s movie revival that’s actually pretty good.

The Convent – Kind of a riff on The Evil Dead or Demons, involves zombie nuns with neon blood and Adrienne Barbeau as the grizzled gun-toting motorcycle-riding anti-heroine.

Murder Party – I watch this every Halloween. A loser goes to a Halloween party where a group of dumb-ass art students plan to murder him to get grant money. Made by people with a real love of the genre; it’s funny, it’s violent, it deserves more respect.

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