Thanksgiving is a highly under-served holiday in the horror genre. There are countless movies centered on Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, April Fools Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day… but very few set around Thanksgiving. It seems like a holiday ripe for terror: families spending time together and eating until they are sick. We’ve dug around and found five Thanksgiving-themed horror flicks for you to enjoy.
HOME SWEET HOME (1981)
I could not find much on this obscure slasher film. Long out of print, HOME SWEET HOME tells the tale of a mental patient who escapes his institution while high on PCP. He finds a seemingly random Thanksgiving dinner being held in a secluded ranch and starts slaughtering the revelers one by one. Apparently, this movie is particularly bad, and the only real tie-in it has with Thanksgiving is the huge roasted turkey on the dinner table.
BLOOD RAGE (1983)
Another obscure slasher, BLOOD RAGE is getting a home video (well, Blu-ray) release for the first time in over twenty years. Unfortunately, it won’t be out until December, well after Thanksgiving. Mommy Maddy takes her twin sons, to the drive-in, then ignores them while she gets hot and heavy with her date. The boys sneak out, Terry kills a teen with an axe, then frames his sweet, innocent twin brother Todd for the murder. Todd is institutionalized, and Maddy smothers Terry with love. Ten years later, and Maddy chooses Thanksgiving dinner as the time to announce her engagement. Terry becomes unhinged, but luckily Todd has escaped the institute around this time, allowing Terry to pick up where he left off: killing teens and blaming it on his brother. Bonus: Ted Raimi has a small cameo at the beginning of the film! (For more on BLOOD RAGE, check out our recent Slashback! feature.)
ALIEN ABDUCTION: INCIDENT IN LAKE COUNTY (1998)
Before THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, there was this made-for-TV movie, which was itself a remake of director Dean Alioto’s own 1989 found-footage film, THE MCPHERSON TAPES. ALIEN ABDUCTION is said to be the home movie of the McPherson family’s Thanksgiving dinner, recorded by their son, Tommy. (Actor Kristian Ayre was actually given a video camera and recorded as he “performed.”) The family gets abducted by aliens and do not get to finish their turkey dinner. The plot is pretty generic, but as this was a new format for the general public, it caused a lot of hysteria across the country. The Lake County sheriff actually had to release a statement to newspapers that it was all fictional.
A classic “bad” movie, THANKSKILLING is about a demonic turkey who kills college kids over the Thanksgiving break. Made on an ultra-low budget (under $4,000) and it shows, the killer turkey (named Turkie) looks like a rubber sock puppet, has sex with humans, and only kills white people. Once you are done with THANKSKILLING, be sure to check out THANKSKILLING 3 (2012). No, that’s not a mistake. Director Jordan Downey decided that since his films were so insanely ridiculous, it would be more fun to just call it the third installment. In fact, hunting down the “lost” THANKSKILLING 2 is a major plot point in the sequel.
Who can forget Eli Roth’s classic fake trailer, “Thanksgiving,” during Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s GRINDHOUSE? Still waiting for him to make it into a feature. (For more background on this story, check out our feature 5 Reasons Eli Roth Needs to Make THANKSGIVING!)