NOVEMBER 14, 2012
I was kind of shocked at how enjoyable ThanksKilling was, as it seemed like the sort of movie that I'd hate long before its 66 minute runtime had passed. But it was weird enough to stick out, and genuinely funny at times (the tea scene, for example), and plus a foul-mouthed puppet turkey is just awesome. Thus, once I realized I hadn't missed an installment, I was quite excited for ThanksKilling 3, which boasted 30x the budget of the original and a whole new cast of demented puppets, making this sort of the Labyrinth of ThanksKilling movies.
And no, there is no part 2, a space adventure that was promised at the end of part 1. The plot of this film concerns Turkie's attempt to destroy the last remaining copy of ThanksKilling 2, which is said to be the worst movie ever made (we see a clip, and while it certainly doesn't look all that great, it DOES have a talking pie, which automatically makes it worth a look). But that's just the excuse to string a bunch of scenes and new characters together, so if you haven't seen the original you won't be any more confused than I was while watching.
Yes, confused. About a killer turkey movie. See, this one isn't as much of a horror film; Turkie only kills one person and a few puppets, and there's so much crap going on I couldn't even tell whose side certain puppets were on. There's a magic vortex, a puppet looking for her heart, Turkie's idiot son who spends half the movie inside of a blu-ray (and has a character arc revolving around his inability to understand or deliver puns), a gay worm who rides around on this robot thing, a rapping granny (also a puppet), and the film's only two human characters of note - a pair of brothers who dream of opening a Thanksgiving themed amusement park, with a "Gravy River" and a mashed potato waterslide and such. It's like they took the idea that the "stuffing is the best part" and applied it to their film - Turkie and his storyline only account for about a third of what we see in its bloated 99 minutes.
Not that it's BAD, it's actually quite enjoyable. I laughed my ass off fairly often, and there's so much demented insanity on-screen that you can't help but be impressed - the out of nowhere animated intro to a Heathcliff type show being a particular favorite. I was also quite taken with the quality of the puppets; while you (intentionally) see their wires and rods, there's some terrific design work all the same, and it's a big step up from the original in that department. I particularly enjoyed the trash can thing that had a broken CD for his left eye (I couldn't figure out what his right eye was, some sort of short pipe?), and the film's main character, Yomi, is a Sesame Street-level creation. With only two humans in the film, I guess they rightfully put a lot of the production budget towards the 6-7 hero puppets.
That said, it's also incredibly well made on a technical level. Shot mostly on the Red, I swear, this stupid turkey puppet movie that seems to be aimed squarely at stoned college kids looks just as good as half of the theatrically released indie dramas and comedies I see. They could have filmed it on a camera phone for all its target audience would care, but I was legit impressed with how good it looked. Additionally, it's one of the most colorful films I've seen in quite some time; every shot in the film could be used as an eye-catching still. The occasional CGI effect tends to look good too - the vortex (and characters disappearing into it) was quite well done, I think.
But it's just EXHAUSTING. There's just so much nonsense going on at all times, I eventually gave up trying to follow it like a regular narrative. Since the out of nowhere stuff tended to be the funniest parts anyway, I figured I'd get just as much, if not MORE enjoyment out of it without worrying myself about things like "Why does Turkie's son not mind that his father killed him?" or "What exactly is that robot trying to accomplish?". However, even then I found myself getting a bit frustrated at times, especially when a gag didn't pay off, like when they randomly cut to the worm playing a trumpet inside the robot's body somewhere in the middle of an otherwise enjoyable fight scene. At 99 minutes (a full 50% longer than the original), it definitely didn't need to be padded out to hit a feature length like the first - a lot of this stuff could go, easily, bringing it down to a more manageable 80-85 minutes.
Also, even if you assume that ThanksKilling 2 was an actual movie, it feels like they've gone way off the path too soon in the franchise. I'm all for ambition, but I can't help but wonder if they should have at least stuck closer to the basic concept (a KILLER turkey) for another movie before going this batshit. I mean they basically went from Child's Play to Seed Of Chucky (and then some), which is a huge jump in tone. Hell, it's a jump in GENRE, so if there's anyone out there that wanted another film of Turkie chopping up teens or whatever, this will be a big disappointment. On that note, the budget was raised by Kickstarter, so I wonder if any of the big donors were aware that this was such a 180 from the original. I mean, the sense of humor is the same - and don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed it - but I kind of missed the slasher element.
But there's nothing else like it out there that I've stumbled upon - I never thought I'd see a film that could simultaneously remind me of both The Dark Crystal and Hardware. And the fact that they put so much effort into the production itself (a HUGE improvement on the original's glorified "Hey guys let's grab my dad's camera and make a movie" feel) was enough to satisfy me. Maybe they can reign it in for part 4, but what's cool is that I actually WANT to see another installment. In fact, I give them my highest compliment I can these days - even though future installments will be post-HMAD, I will still watch them. You have my beak.
What say you?