Why do we really have to wait 11 months until Halloween? It’s really unfair. In the meantime we must endure the coming holidays, and very non-horror themed decorations they bring along. This doesn’t mean we still can’t consume holiday-based horror!
If you’ve been wondering, “Are there any good Thanksgiving themed horror films?” Get ready, because there are a few killer ones! This list has it all: movies to soothe you in your tryptophan coma, and films that will make your whole family question why they let you take the remote control. Here are the top six in no particular(ly very particular) order!
6. + 5. ThanksKilling (2009) & ThanksKilling 3 (2012)
This gravy filled treat is unlike the other entries on this definitely-cranberry-sauce-instead-of-blood filled list. ThanksKilling is unlike other low-budget B horror films. It is unlike any of the entries on Mac Jones’ Awfully Good list. This “film” is unlike any you’ve seen before. This is more than a low-budget horror film, while conversely being less than a low-budget film. Where most films along this caliber can succeed at being at least fun, or have some redeeming value–this film falls flat on its snood over and over again. I am not trying to belittle this film, or its filmmakers, but merely trying to point out this is one of those films that is so non-purposefully good at being bad, it succeeds and stands victorious above the others of the sub-genre. If you want to watch a truly terrible film you will ultimately want to watch over and over again (don’t ask me why, I can’t stop watching this), this is the film for you.
But wait there’s more. Where an unsuccessful low-budget filmmaker would move on to the next campy idea, writer/director Jordan Downey decided to make a sequel…well…kind of. Instead of the typical numbering system, i.e. two comes after one, Downey decided to go right to ThanksKilling 3 just three years after the original. Like. Why? While the second one (3) falls even shorter than its lackadaisically awesome predecessor. Honestly I really don’t want it to sound like I am hating on this film, I really do enjoy it.
4. Home Sweet Home (1981)
Nearing the top.. of the bottom on our list is a film that may be perceived as a career killer. With the exception of one film both the writer and director’s careers promptly declined and then ceased after this film. Is it rightfully so, though? The film is not terrible…there is a sort of heart to it. There is an aspect of this film that can draw you back, but in a completely different way than ThanksKilling. Home Sweet Home is described as, “An escaped mental patient steals a station wagon and makes his way to the Bradleys’ Thanksgiving celebration, where he plans to make them a little less thankful…” nothing like having a half-assed pun in your plot description, right? To be frank this film is not great, though it can get the job done–it fills the empty void of horror in your life for 85 minutes. It would be a good pallet cleanser after experiencing ThanksKilling.
3. Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (1998)
Let’s get a deep cut into our turkey for number three on the list. This film is a doozy! Predating The Blair Witch Project, Alien Abduction is a found footage film that hits all the marks, before there were marks to be hit. It even has a camera confessional… This film is slightly difficult to find in physical format, there are some ways of viewing it. Alien Abduction is a bigger budget version of UFO Abduction, which was written and directed by the same person. The film is about a kid who is making a home movie about his family’s Thanksgiving dinner when, duh,
Bigfoot aliens show up. Alien Abduction is a great entry on this list, and I highly recommend viewing it.
2. Into the Dark: Flesh & Blood (2018)
Holy Mulroney! **author’s note: I’ve been waiting to type that since I saw the film** Let’s start by getting this out into the open, Into the Dark is a brilliant idea from Blumhouse, and both installments have been entertaining romps, leaving me more and more anxious for the next. Flesh & Blood is the Thanksgiving installment. At the helm of this film is Patrick Lussier, who’s directed some great horror films like Dracula 2000, and My Bloody Valentine (2009). Dermot Mulroney pulls out all the stops in his performance by grounding the character and leveling his emotions properly; this creates a character which gives us the ability to feel the tension even when there isn’t any. Diana Silvers makes her feature debut as Mulroney’s daughter, and damn does she pull it off. Silvers is also starring in the upcoming Unbreakable sequel Glass.
NOFS’ very own Jessica Rose did a wonderful review of Flesh and Blood, saying “Flesh & Blood inhabits the right atmosphere, with terrific acting, and an intense plot – ranging from mysterious suspicion to emotional terror. In the grand tradition of holiday celebration, Flesh & Blood is similar to a hearty annual Thanksgiving Day feast complete with all the fixings we crave: the excitement of filling ourselves to the brim, and the joys of seeing our favorite horror factors on display in our finest china.”
1. Blood Rage (1987)
Out of this, sadly, short list Blood Rage is undoubtedly number one. This is an incredibly fun 80s slasher that feels slightly meta with its material. Director John Grissmer finds uniquely subtle ways to enhance their comedic elements, while keeping the feel of the violence raw yet understated. The film centers around a set of twins, one of whom kills their mother at a drive-in when they’re eight years old. The rest of the detail will be spared, as to not sully your viewing of the fun twisting storyline of this 80s gem. Blood Rage stars the incredible Louise Lasser (Frankenhooker, Requiem for a Dream), who also was an understudy on Broadway for Barbara Streisand. Oh, and Ted Raimi is this too! Overall this is an incredibly fun film that will keep you content between your turkey naps.
BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS
I wanted to throw a bonus on this list, as I have spent a good portion of it talking non-favorably about some films. Unfortunately this is not a feature, but that leaves time for multiple viewings of this two-ish minute freaky fun horror film. Eli Roth’s fake trailer in the Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez opus Grindhouse is just pure excitement and horror. If you’re one of the people lucky enough to own the two disc Blu-Ray edition there is even a wonderful behind the scenes feature about the making of Thanksgiving, which makes viewing the short even more entertaining. While there are no talks (let’s fact check this and hope I’m incorrect) it doesn’t seem as if this film, Rob Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the SS, or Edgar Wright’s Don’t will be made into features anytime soon/if ever. Though I feel there is space for hope as both Robert Rodriguez’s Machete and Jason Eisner’s Hobo with a Shotgun have been made into features from their trailers. Maybe we can hope for a Thanksgiving miracle?
Are you going to watch any holiday themed horror films? Let us know if you have seen any of the films on this list! Happy Thanksgiving!