Where the hell did ThanksKilling come from? Filmmakers Kevin Stewart and Jordan Downey were juniors in college and had decided that during summer break (summer ’07), they would set out to shoot an ultra-low budget feature.
Downey is an avid fan of campy B-horror movies, growing up watching films like Chopping Mall, Jack Frost, Uncle Sam, and Leprechaun. Stewart, also a fan of the genre, especially loves holiday-themed horror films. With that, the two were inspired to make an ultra-low budget holiday-themed horror film…but what holidays were yet to make their mark in horror? It came down to Easter and Thanksgiving. Stewart and Downey tossed around the idea of an Easter slasher entitled “Eggstravakill”, and while the idea of a giant killer Easter bunny is pretty damn horrific, they were set on using Thanksgiving as the backdrop. In a matter of seconds after deciding on a Thanksgiving theme, the two knew the film had to be about a killer turkey, an evil little bastard that had a lot of one-liners. The title “ThanksKilling” came instantly as well. In their first conversation about the would-be “ThanksKilling”, Stewart and Downey came up with many potential one-liners that The Killer Turkey would say (things that involved being stuffed, carved, etc.) including the film’s central tagline and most prominent one-liner: “Gobble, Gobble, Motherfucker!”
Once a basic concept was established, a general outline of the screenplay needed to be written. Stewart and Downey decided early on that the film’s central plot would mirror your typical horror scenario: college kids having fun on break–killer shows up–kids start getting killed–kids must fight back to stop killer. Simple. The filmmakers wanted to take it a step further and in a way spoof that typical scenario by changing it to Thanksgiving break and by playing up the stereotypes of each character: The Jock, The Slut, The Good Girl, The Nerd, and The Fat Hick, The Hermit, The Sheriff, etc. On a car ride to San Diego, Stewart and Downey wrote the majority of the outline, including dialogue, kill scenes, character goals, and costume ideas. Stewart then took the outline and over the course of one month, wrote the first draft of the ThanksKilling screenplay. Downey read that and did a polish on it before the two enlisted the help of friends Tony Wilson, Brad Schulz, and Grant Yaffee to also do re-writes on dialogue and turkey jokes. All in all, the ThanksKilling screenplay was written and finished over the course of a few months and was re-written even while shooting.
**Note: The original script featured an opening scene that took place during the first Thanksgiving dinner in “The Olden Days”. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to shoot this scene and the filmmakers could not afford the Pilgrim and Native American costumes it required.
**Note: A year after ThanksKilling wrapped, Stewart and Downey shot a quick opening scene involving a naked pilgrim, in which porn star Wanda Lust stars.
Download an early draft of the THANKSKILLING SCREENPLAY.
Download the REVISED OPENING SCENE.
After the final draft of ThanksKilling was complete, the film was set to move into PRE-PRODUCTION.
To see behind the scenes footage and more details on the conceptualization and writing of ThanksKilling, check out the “Making Of” featurette only on the ThanksKilling DVD.