Metal and ‘ThanksKilling’ mayhem on bill for local tavern’s holiday celebration

Illustration+by+LaQuann+Lee+Dawson+Jr.

Illustration by LaQuann Lee Dawson Jr.

Mark Oprea

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Not being stalked by a blood-thirsty, murderous turkey should be on that list.

“ThanksKilling,” a comedy-horror cult film directed by Jordan Downey, will be showing at the Stone Tavern for the bar’s annual holiday celebration. Hosted by local electronic media producers Slow Mutants, festivities will include performances by heavy metal groups Album, Ravenna Arsenal, and “ThanksKilling” star and music producer, General Bastard. Unfortunately, the only turkey at the Stone Tavern that evening will be one undead.

First screened at the Sacramento Horror Film Festival in 2008, “ThanksKilling,” with its picayune budget of $3,500, gradually rose to become simultaneously the worst and best Thanksgiving horror flick — and maybe the only one of its kind. And the plot is straightforward horror: when five kids on college break disturb the the burial ground of a “necromancing Indian,” they awaken a demonic bird nicknamed “Turkie,” who proceeds to knock each of them off gruesomely one-by-one as he spouts out cheesy one-liners. It’s certainly not your grandmother’s Thanksgiving film.

“There’s nothing worse than a low budget film,” Jorge Delarosa, the head and founder of the Slow Mutants, said. “You have to ask yourself how to make the best out of what you have to work with.”

Delarosa, who is working on his own Kent-based horror flick, said that he is excited to be hosting Album, the “best live heavy metal band” he’s seen, along with Northeast Ohio’s very own General Bastard. Combining the two with Downey’s comedy-horror film, for Delarosa, was a no-brainer.

“It will surely be a beer-drinking, rock and roll of a night,” he said. “It’s very much a perfect union of comedy-horror and metal.”

And General Bastard, with his black-and-white Mexican wrestler mask, evergreen helmet and camo T-shirt is the face of that union.

Dean Carls — Bastard’s real name — has been guiding his metal group since it took off six years ago, after he both starred in and provided the music for “ThanksKilling” and composed its theme song, often heard at a Bastard show. Playing “surf metal,” with fast overdriven Dick-Dale-like licks with pop-culture-shaming lyrics (he has a song called “[email protected]$k Kim Kardashian”), Carls said his music is alike to the same levity behind the slasher film he acted in.

“It’s really almost all humor,” Carls said. “I like to say that we’re like a bad Saturday Night Live skit. We don’t like to take ourselves too seriously.”

Yet it’s humorous how things blow up, even as a joke.

“ThanksKilling” popped up on news stations around the country after its release for it’s grotesqueness and fan reaction. While Downey originally self-distributed the film via Amazon, it blew up when it hit on-demand retailers, quickly going to the top of charts on Netflix and the Playstation Store, now garnering more than 100,000 ratings and two sequels. Forbes even listed “ThanksKilling” as the fifth best Thanksgiving film of all time. It’s why Carls calls the ultimate low budget flick the “little movie that could.”

Six years after Downey’s film hit theaters, a cult following still lingers. Carls said that fans of his across the country run up to him after the show to snap photos due to his “ThanksKilling” fame. There are some that even take that time to tear apart the Thanksgiving thriller, pointing out its worthlessness as a film. 

Carls often responds with

a laugh.

“(‘ThanksKilling’) was never meant to be anything serious,” he said. “And the people who don’t like the movie tend to take movies like this too serious. The purpose of the film is just to have fun and laugh.”

The oddity of Turkie’s murderous rampage, and his pithy sayings are enough of an example, he said. It’s the point of Thanksgiving: to come together with friends and family, drink and be merry and listen to heavy metal. Carls said many will be leaving the screening repeating Turkie’s iconic line: “Gobble, Gobble, [email protected]#cker!”

Contact Mark Oprea at [email protected].