ThanksKilling: Double Serving Double Feature

Within the horror genre, few films capture the theme of Thanksgiving quite like the cult classic ThanksKilling. Full of slasher cliques and puns, this film plays up every over the top aspect, taking pride in all its B-movie glory. The second installment, ThanksKilling 3, takes everything to a whole new level, which is reflected in the title implying that it has skipped its own sequel.

Opening in the year 1621, a topless pilgrim is being chased through the woods by a fowl-mouthed, demonic turkey named Turkie who proceeds to kill her with a tomahawk. Cutting to present day on a college campus, an incredibly cheesy introduction of five college friends ensues. Each character represents a slasher stereotype: Ali as the slut, Kristen as the good girl, Johnny as the jock, Billy as the redneck and Darren as the nerd. With the excitement portrayed, one would think these college students are about to celebrate Spring Break as Billy hangs out of Johnny’s Jeep yelling, “Thanksgiving break!” However, when a hermit’s dog awakens Turkie by urinating on a miniature totem pole, this homicidal bird embarks on a killing spree and stalks the group of friends.

With a budget of approximately $3,500, filmmakers Jordan Downey and Kevin Stewart set out to make an intentionally bad horror film during their third year in college. Inspired by B-movies such as Critters, Leprechaun and Puppetmaster, this duo brought this project to life with an 11 day film shoot. According to Downey and Stewart’s audio commentary, they never expected the film to see the light of day and considered releasing their project without attaching their names. However, much to their surprise, ThanksKilling gained a cult following upon its 2009 release.


In 2012, Downey released a follow-up entitled ThanksKilling 3. No, that is not a typo. The director decided to emphasize the ridiculousness of his film by titling the second installment number three. Taking place in the “real world,” Turkie is enraged when he discovers that every copy of ThanksKilling 2 has been destroyed except for one, which has fallen into the hands of a puppet named Yomi. Turkie goes on a murderous rampage in search of the remaining copy, for which he has malicious plans. With the help of Uncle Donny, Jefferson, Flowis the rapping grandmother, WiseTurkey and a bisexual space worm named Rhonda, Yomi seeks to stop Turkie from recovering the lost film while she searches for her mind.

Anyone who did not enjoy ThanksKilling should stay clear of the sequel. Coming off as an adult version of Sesame Street on an acid trip, it appears that Downey spent the profits he made from the original installment to create cheap puppets and props. Featuring techno music, bright colorful lights, slow motion fight scenes and cheesy one-liners, ThanksKilling 3 is about as over the top as a film can get without losing sight of a plot and storyline. Being fully aware of the film’s direction, the creators added a drinking game option for the DVD edition.

Final thoughts:

Resembling the cover of a tabloid, the DVD covers of ThanksKilling and ThanksKilling 3 instantly screams what type of film you are about to view: low-budget, B-movie horror films that are so ridiculously bad that they are good. While these films are not for everyone, Downey and his crew are successful in creating these two horror/comedy cult classics that don’t take themselves remotely seriously. If these two dishes are for you, this double feature is the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving celebration. 

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