Thanksgiving horror movies are for the entire family! The big day can be unsettling or disturbing, depending on your relationship with your family. It can be a lonely time, but horror films are a great way to deal with Turkey terror. This family holiday is finally when we get to see Eli Roth's Thanksgiving, which fans have been waiting for since 2007. It's been sixteen years since horror fans whet their appetite, but after you have consumed this new fright feast, when you need something a little gorier than a plate of mashed potatoes, here are some of the genre's tributes to this holiday about stuffing your face with family. Read more: Eli Roth On Turning A Thanksgiving Parody Trailer Into A Proper Slasher.
Deadly Friend (1986)
One of Wes Craven's lesser-known and misunderstood movies is Deadly Friend from 1986. But what you may not know is that the film, about a teenage genius who goes from building his robot to reanimating his tragic next-door neighbor after she dies at the hands of her father, is that it is set during the fall months, starting with Halloween and then continuing to Thanksgiving. It stars Matthew Laborteaux, Kristy Swanson, Michael Sharrett, and Anne Twomey. It was originally more of a dark science fiction romance, but the studio insisted on adding more gore making it more violent than Craven originally envisioned it. Is it only tangentially related to Thanksgiving? Yes, but it is still set on Thanksgiving.
The Last Thanksgiving (2020)
The Last Thanksgiving is written and directed by Erick Lorinc and is a comedic horror film about a diner that is under attack by pilgrim cannibals on Thanksgiving. As the people inside the diner fight for their lives, comedy ensues! The film stars Samantha Ferrand, Matthew McClure, Tristan Petashnick, and Branden Holzer and has a cameo from horror icon Linnea Quigley. One of America's favorite food-based holidays and one of America's favorite weird fascinations, cannibalism, come together to make for a satisfying meal. Read more: Thanksgiving Serves Up The First Proper Turkey Day Slasher.
Into the Dark: Pilgrim (2019)
The television series Into the Dark on Hulu is holiday-themed and in the two seasons of the show, in which each episode is a film, there are two Thanksgiving-themed horror movies. In the second season, that episode is Pilgrim. It is co-written and directed by Marcus Dunstan and stars Kerr Smith, Reign Edwards, Peter Giles, Courtney Henggeler, and Taj Speights. Pilgrim tells the story of a family that hosts a group of Thanksgiving re-enactors who are a little too realistic for comfort or safety. If you want Thanksgiving horror, this gives you a big part of the original horror of the holiday.
Blood Rage (1987)
Blood Rage is a doozy. It is the tale of twin brothers, one of whom is driven to murderous rage any time he witnesses people having sex, especially his mother. Todd and Terry are shown as children and Terry murders his mother's date and a teenage couple and frames Todd for the murders. The story takes up again ten years later during Thanksgiving when Todd escapes the mental institution where he is incarcerated and Terry is again driven to madness. Directed by John Grissmer, and written by Bruce Rubin, it stars Louise Lasser, Mark Soper, Julie Gordon, and Jayne Bentzen. It's a cult favorite that is only tangentially connected to Thanksgiving, but the cranberry sauce scene helps give the movie a modicum of holiday atmosphere. Read more: The Best New Horror Movies To Watch This Winter.
When you think about wild Thanksgiving horror movies, the black comedy slasher with a killer turkey, ThanksKilling should be on that list. Turkie is his name and he is up to horrifically non-politically correct deeds and doing things that your average turkey could only dream of. That's because normally turkeys can't wield weapons. Directed by Jordan Downey and starring Wanda Lust, Chuck Lamb, Ryan Francis, and Aaron Carlson, it's a campy and silly slasher that goes for the offensive as much as possible. Read more: On The Tail Of Thanksgiving Eli Roth Would Love To Cross-Pollinate More Holiday Horror.
What's worse than having to go home for Thanksgiving? The Turkey Day holiday film Kristy answers that question effectively. It's much worse to be stuck alone at your college with a group of scary masked "cyber" cultists trying to kill you for no known reason. At least at home, you can have some cranberry sauce and not worry about killers chasing you around and murdering everyone else around you. This cult favorite stars Haley Bennett, Lucas Till, Chris Coy, and James Ransone, and how the lead character Justine, played by Haley Bennett turns the tables is as satisfying as a slice of pumpkin pie. She's not really named Kristy, but Kristy is a symbol rather than a person.
Amityville Thanksgiving (2022)
Amityville Thanksgiving gets a nod on this list for sheer audacity. The Amityville franchise's name has increasingly been hijacked for films that may have little or no connection to the original story and since we are discussing a lot of movies that are only somewhat connected to Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate. Like Amityville in Space, this movie doesn't share the location of the franchise at all. It's set in a wooded area and features a troubled couple visiting the "Amityville couple's counselor" for Thanksgiving. Sure, why not? Add an Ouija board, a couple yelling at each other, and a nefarious plot by the couple's counselor who always seems to be sharpening his cutting tool and you've got a low-budget slasher party. It stars Natalie Peri, Paul Faggione, and Mark C Fullhardt and is written and directed by Will Collazo Jr. and Julie Anne Prescott.
Black Friday (2021)
Eli Roth's Thanksgiving does touch upon the Black Friday phenomenon, and since Black Friday is now a traditional feature of Thanksgiving, Black Friday makes the list. This version of Black Friday, yes, there's more than one, stars Devon Sawa, Ivana Baquero, Michael Jai White, and Bruce Campbell and is directed by Casey Tebo. During the Black Friday sale at the store We Love Toys, a parasitic monster starts to attack and take over employees and then customers, who then turn rabid and emit tentacles. Bad news. Black Friday has just gotten scarier.
Home Sweet Home (1981)
Home Sweet Home has everything. A bodybuilding personality who goes on a murderous rampage because of PCP, nine people trying to have Thanksgiving dinner who have to deal with the drug-crazed killer, the patriarch's son who is nicknamed "Mistake", and is a mime. Yes. It's directed by a woman, Nettie Peña, and is much more entertaining than any such film usually is. It stars "Body by Jake" Jake Steinfeld, Don Edmonds, director of two of the infamous Ilsa films, and is the feature film debut of actress, Vinessa Shaw. There's more than average effort being put into the making of this film and it tries different ideas which is why it's more fun than a bummer. This movie is very hard to find, but I saw it through the kindly auspices of Cinematic Void's Cinemadness movie and it was worth it.
Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (1998)
Dean Alioto's remake of his low-budget feature, The McPherson Tape, was made for television and is a pseudo-documentary about a family Thanksgiving being attacked by alien invaders. This is one of the few movies on the list that has an actual Thanksgiving dinner involved in the story. The film was broadcast and made a splash among viewers who believed that it was real. It was a similar phenomenon to the audience's reaction to The Blair Witch Project, a year later. It stars Benz Antoine, Kristian Ayre, Gillian Barber, Michael Buie, and Emmanuelle Chriqui. Viewers who were fascinated by the film debated it in the early days of the Internet and set about investigating to find out if it was based on real events.