Being a celebration of the harvest that draws upon Pilgrim imagery, Thanksgiving tends to be the most “rustic” of American holiday meals. In pairing a beverage, one might choose to contrast and go in an ultra-modern direction, but in the spirit of the holiday, I’ve always felt that a rustic beer best suits the meal. It’s why I chose Upbright Brewing’s Seven to pair with Thankskilling, the world’s only killer turkey movie (except for its own sequel). Because in many ways, Thankskilling is like a turkey dinner of bad movies, a smorgasbord of little bites—some of them appetizing and some appalling.
The first thing one is likely to notice about the 2009 film is just how crude most of it is. The DVD menu warns you before you even press play with the following phrase: “Tits in the first second.” This is not a lie. Thankskilling is unapologetically trashy—it revels in its worst elements in a way that most bad movies can only dream of. It manages something very rare, being what appears to be a purposefully crafted “bad movie” that both fails and succeeds at that goal. In some ways it’s genuinely awful, and in others it’s better than it has any right to be.
Upright Brewing’s Seven, meanwhile, has the strength and complexity necessary to stand up to Thankskilling’s sensory onslaught. It displays classic Belgian saison aromas of wheat bread, coriander and something akin to a freshly cut and dried hayfield. A big swallow reveals complex flavors that remind me of candied apricot and more bread crust. There’s so much going on, it’s rather overwhelming. Unmistakable is the surprisingly hot flavor of the alcohol itself, as the 8% ABV reveals itself. This is complex but non-subtle beer, an intoxicating rush that girds the viewer against his own tendencies toward snobbishness.
That’s the state in which one really ought to be viewing Thankskilling, anyway. To think of it as pure trash would be a mistake—it may have absurdly broad characters and they may be portrayed by terrible actors, but there’s something almost subversive in its attitude and willful disregard of reality. In one of my favorite sequences near the halfway mark, the talking killer turkey (oh yes, he talks!) manages to murder the heroine’s father and disguise himself by wearing the man’s cut-off face like a mask. And nobody notices. “You look … different,” the daughter remarks when he opens the door, oblivious to the fact that he’s two feet tall and covered in feathers. Nervously, the masked turkey doffs his hat. “Oh…” the daughter replies, her face lighting up with joy. “You got a haircut!”
Stupid, I know. And yet, those touches of absurdity bring a bit of class to an otherwise classless film, endowing it with the impression that its directors were in on the joke far more than they chose to let on—and more than even the cast realized at the time, I think. It’s why Thankskilling demands a craft beer with complexity of its own. One can sit on the couch and sip Upright Brewing’s Seven, contemplating the additional depths of flavor that show themselves as it warms, while simultaneously chuckling at the quirky killer turkey movie with just a spark of brilliance hiding behind a veneer of tastelessness.
And as for the alcohol, it certainly doesn’t hurt in making the jokes go down just a little bit smoother.
Have a sip of Thankskilling.
Or take a gander at Upright Brewing’s Seven.