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Dollar bin flicks: ‘ThanksKilling’

Welcome to the first installment of Dollar Bin Flicks, where Hadley, Felix, and Warner review the best worst movies they’ve ever seen.
A crude and risqué film, ThanksKillings small budget and even smaller cast means the odds are stacked against it, yet it thrives as an entertaining piece of cinematography that will leave you chuckling.
Warner Lolmasteymaugh
A crude and risqué film, ‘ThanksKilling’s’ small budget and even smaller cast means the odds are stacked against it, yet it thrives as an entertaining piece of cinematography that will leave you chuckling.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to find gratitude and spend time with your family. In Thankskilling, the script is flipped on the pleasant holiday, when a murderous turkey begins a killing spree to seek revenge on his ancestors. In this low-budget, lewd, and colorful film, you will find an unbelievably wild plot. The turns this movie takes are completely unexpected every time, leaving you with an experience to be thankful for (or an intense sense of gratitude for the person you were before seeing the film). 


Five college students prepare for Thanksgiving break and get in the car to drive home. When they experience car troubles, they decide to camp out in the woods for the night and return home in the morning. While sharing stories around the fire, Darren tells about a serial killer turkey. Everyone calls his story a myth, but while Kristen steps out to call her dad she sees the turkey in the woods. The group tells her that Darren’s story isn’t real and that they should all just go to bed. The five students make it through the night unbeknownst to the harrowing events soon to take place. 

When they go home in the morning, that’s when the real horror begins. The murder turkey that Kristen saw in the woods picks the groups of kids as his victims and begins to go after each of the five college students and their families, “pecking” them off one by one. After being terrorized by the homicidal, revenge-seeking bird, the students who are still alive form a plan to kill the turkey. After their intense research (Darren read a book on the turkey), they figure out how to take him down. He must be burned at the stake. When hope seems to be running out, and Kristen is the only one left, the turkey is finally defeated. In her victory, Kristen eats a perfectly cooked turkey leg to celebrate her triumph. 


Besides the intense gore, questionable dialogue, and fear of eating turkey this Thanksgiving, I enjoyed this movie. It was vulgar, offensive, and cringe-worthy for sure. The film was absolutely terrible, but I could not stop laughing at the worst jokes, line deliveries, and the creative situations the characters found themselves in. This movie is incredibly insane and pretty okay for college students with barely any budget. I definitely wouldn’t watch this movie if you don’t like gore or distasteful jokes. ThanksKilling is a film that is memorable whether you want it to be or not. 


Because it’s a satirical movie made by college students, the characters in ThanksKilling are very two-dimensional and largely based on stereotypes.  The five main characters: Johnny, Billy, Kristen, Ali, and Darren, are all cliché takes on stereotypical high school students in the 2000s.

First, we have the jock, Johnny. He is written as you’d expect a stereotypical jock would be: a pretty face with little emotional depth or intellectual prowess. His shallow character is further emphasized after the brutal murder of his parents. His immediate concern was that there would be no more pumpkin pie to eat. 

Billy is written to be the “slacker” of the friend group. His dialogue is very shallow and surface-level, and his character makes most of the offensive and distasteful jokes throughout the duration of the film, save for Turkie the Turkey. He calls Ali’s share of gratitude “gay,” and often bullies Darren, the nerd of the group.

Next, we have Kristen, who was probably my favorite main character.  She was the least stereotypical character out of all of them– although that isn’t necessarily difficult. She was one of the only characters who showed any respect or concern for Darren’s feelings and was even kind to Billy, which would be a challenge for anyone. However, she does need to work on her humor, as she repeated the exact same joke, verbatim, within the first thirty minutes of the film.

Ali is probably one of the most static characters in the film. Her promiscuous and somewhat ditzy nature made it difficult for her to make any serious progression as a character throughout the duration of the film.  Like many of the characters, she lacked critical thinking skills, and as a result, met her untimely demise at the hands of a killer turkey.

Darren plays the role of the stereotypical “nerd.” He’s socially awkward, not conventionally attractive, and seen as an outcast, even amongst his friend group.  His introduction to the story of the killer turkey is immediately rejected and laughed at, despite the staggering amount of truth. Despite my hope that he would survive (mostly out of spite of the others), he too fell victim to the Thanksgiving slaughter.


Despite the film being very crass and obscene, it certainly did not lack in terms of entertainment value.  I found myself laughing quite often, be it due to actual humor or flat-out shock.  While it’s certainly not Academy Award-worthy, ThanksKilling is still a wild ride that will have you thinking about it long after the credits have rolled.


When I was first approached to collaborate on this article and the concept of watching bottom-of-the-barrel schlocky horror movies, this was the first film to come to my mind. It’s offensive, cheap, absurd, and balls to the wall insane with creative kills and gore effects. 

If you have not seen this movie before (I’m willing to bet most who read this have not), and you can stomach some truly offensive imagery, I believe this film makes for the ultimate movie night with friends. Beyond its place in entertainment, I have to admire its existence in the first place. This is a movie made not for profit, not made by a studio, but by filmmakers, who wanted to make a movie. 

To say this movie is a masterpiece can absolutely be debated. I see this movie less as a deliberate attempt to make high-brow art, but more as a triumph of all odds, a team of dedicated artists coming together to create a movie. 

Regardless of quality that feat is immensely difficult to pull off, especially with the tight budget and restraints they were dealing with. This movie is no Godfather by any means or definition, but I would be dishonest saying I don’t find immense amounts of entertainment derived from this movie. At a breakneck 1hr 5min runtime, it’s hard to go wrong with Thankskilling


The film was made in 2007 by college students Jordan Dowey, who both wrote and directed this picture, and who is the primary visionary of this production, and Brad Shultz and Kevin Stewart, each with a writing credit to their names. The movie was made for less than 4,000 dollars, which in the world of filmmaking is essentially pennies. The trio wrote this movie to be intentionally ridiculous, aiming for a quality so poor and deliberately bizarre that the end result is an absurdist comedy. 

To keep costs to a minimum for this self-financed production, the crew cut just about every corner they could to save every dollar. The titular turkey puppet was sculpted by hand in the director’s apartment bathroom. It was made of a recycled foam hunting decoy, and various leftover special effects supplies Jordan had lying around. The effects budget in total was only a few hundred dollars, so all of the special effects were shot for dirt cheap. 

Only one actor in this film was paid: the actress this film opens with (if you have seen the movie you understand why), whom the director found on Craigslist. Everyone else in front of the camera were friends and family of the crew, which adds to the ‘so bad it’s good’ feel the writing trio was going for, as none of them were trained actors. The lead actress was cast by recommendation of a mutual friend of the Jordan, wherein she was given the script, and they discussed her role in the movie mere days before shooting began. 

The film was shot in the summer between Jordan and Kevin’s sophomore and junior years of college, over the course of 11 days. All of the sets were locations the crew already had access to, such as their college campus, the actors’ houses, the side of the road, and a public park, which was used for the opening scene without a permit (once again, if you’ve seen this movie you understand why that’s worth mentioning). The scenes of the characters camping were filmed outside of an abandoned Wendy’s they found just off the highway they were filming on. 

The film debuted at the Merry Scary Winter Horrorland festival in Sacramento to small audiences and no reviews to speak of, because no one had known of this movie’s existence. It took the crew a year to sell 1,000 DVDs of their movie, which considering how many people had watched the movie online, or saw it screen in various film festivals, or for that matter were friends or family of the cast and crew, it should give you a solid idea of how this movie was perceived by the public. 

That being said, the film eventually saw an increase in attention after it was uploaded and shared around the internet, where it was embraced for its bizarre premise and homemade feel. Turkie the killer Turkey grew an underground fanbase of horror fans and eventually pecked his way into the hearts of thousands. The movie was enough of a cult classic for the director to crowdfund a sequel that was released five years later called Thankskilling 3. You did not miss the part where I mentioned Thankskilling 2. There is no Thankskilling 2; that’s part of the joke. This sequel had a budget of over 100,000 dollars to create a larger, more intricate follow-up to its humble beginnings as a college passion project.

Overall, this movie certainly has earned its spot at the bottom of the dollar bin.  With its offensive jokes, intense gore, and budget (or lack thereof), Thankskilling is a movie that will certainly give you a memorable movie night. We certainly wouldn’t want this type of turkey for the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving!

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About the Contributors
Felix Henning
Felix Henning, Journalist
Grade: Senior Favorite Season: Autumn Favorite Drink Place: Vivi Bubble Tea Favorite Food: Dill Pickle Pasta Favorite Superhero: Deadpool
Hadley E.J. Monson
Hadley E.J. Monson, Journalist
Grade: Senior Hobbies: Watching movies, listening to music, hanging out with friends Name of my car: Ms. Jackson Early riser/night owl: Night owl Favorite Holiday: Valentine's day
Warner Lolmasteymaugh
Warner Lolmasteymaugh, Journalist
Grade: Senior Hobbies: Making movies, playing drums and bass guitar, and playing live music around town, long distance biking, being with friends. Dream Job: Making movies Favorite Season: Fall Favorite Superhero: Spiderman