ThanksKilling 3 DVD Review: What the Hell Did I Just Watch?

When a friend asked what I thought of ThanksKilling 3, after unscrewing the puzzled look off my face, I said, “Well, I didn’t NOT enjoy it.” He jokingly said that’s all the endorsement he needed. I suspect you, dear reader, will need more.

Something happened between the original ThanksKilling and ThanksKilling 3. No, not a sequel, though the mythical “never-released” sequel is the McGuffin for this flick. The original movie was an extremely low budget (about $3500), campy, yet genuine attempt at a horror flick about a cursed zombie turkey summoned by a Native American shaman to punish the Pilgrims. Fast-forward 505 years, and the turkey — Turkie — is back for blood, and stalks the stereotypical high school jock, nerd, good girl, slut, hick, etc. for wandering into his woods.

This time around, Turkie is a suburban-dwelling husband and father who still has a short and violent temper, but seems to just be hanging out, making ends meet on an amateur film career, just living the American Dream. When he gets word that all the copies save for one of his last movie — ThanksKilling 2 — have been destroyed due to it being dubbed the worst movie ever made, he sets out on a mission to retrieve that final copy for himself. His plan evolves to be more diabolical as the story unfolds, but he comes across as more of a Bond villain than the tongue-in-cheek slasher-flick monster of yore.

Turkie’s plight takes a back seat for a large portion of the movie, though, as we meander through what can best be described as a very deranged episode of Sesame Street. There are a lot of puppets in this movie. Seriously one of only a couple actual people in the movie is Uncle Donny (Daniel Usaj), a turkey plucking-and-cooking appliance infomercial salesman who dresses like George Washington. The puppet roster delivers unlikely missing-mind hero Yomi, Oscar the Grouch-inspired Greg Garbage, sage WiseTurkey, killer robot Muff, the decidedly masculine Rhonda Worm, the trusty rusty PluckMaster machine, pumpkin-pie spaceship pilot Pie-Lett, anus-obsessed cat Meowmir, gangsta-rapping grandma Flowis…there are some really imaginative marionette, rubber suit, animated, and puppet characters here that each manage to hold their own and remain memorable in a completely bizarre world. I came here for another ridiculous gore-fest, but what I got was like a cross between Team America: World Police and Legend or The Neverending Story.

From the minute I put the disc in, I was hit with surprises. Right before the movie start, two different options are presented for audio commentary by the writer-director-voice actor combo of Jordan Downey and Kevin Stewart. At the bottom of the screen lies the option to play the ThanksKilling 3 drinking game. When this is active, prompts will appear on the screen throughout the movie to tell viewers when to drink, take a shot, or chug depending on what they’re seeing, from worm puns to WTF moments (of which there are many). Beyond these features are more typical fare like behind the scenes clips, production stills, the Flowis rap music video, and the PluckMaster 3000 infomercial.

If you were a fan of the original, this movie is a different animal altogether, but still something you’ll probably enjoy. Yes, Turkie is still as foul-mouthed and raunchy as always, and Wanda Lust returns to provide the front-cover-advertised “Boobs in the first second,” but the story aligns with larger quest themes rather than typical horror movie cliches. And yes, most of the characters are puppets. I liked it, and even my wife (who didn’t see the first movie and was utterly dumbfounded with this one) cracked up at a few of the scenes and one-liners. ThanksKilling 3 knows exactly what it is — weird, dirty, somewhat violent, and completely unexpected with a punchy soundtrack — and capitalizes on each of these traits in every frame possible, start to finish.

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Mark Buckingham

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