Thanks-Killing: Halloween Is Over, But the Horror Goes On
Halloween is over, and for many folks that means an unabashed love of blood, mass murder, and monsters once again goes from "holiday spirit" to "creepy." The more domestic and family oriented celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas loom, and that means we'll be switching Friday the 13th marathons on TV for Charlie Brown and Tim Allen. What's a horror fan to do?
Luckily, there is something of a slasher flick methadone to help wean you down from the glorious overkill of October; Thanksgiving-themed horror films. It's not a big genre, and it doesn't really have iconic films like Christmas-themed selections such as Silent Night, Deadly Night and Black Christmas, but there are several excellent choices nonetheless.
It even seems that the Thanksgiving-themed horror movie star may be on the rise. Eli Roth stated in August of 2012 that he still plans to expand his incredibly gratuitous Thanksgiving trailer that ran with Grindhouse into a full-length outing. He and his partner Jeff Rundell are reportedly working on a script with the writers of Clown, Jon Watts and Christopher D. Ford. In May Roth spoke with SciFiNow about his continued commitment to the project, stating that it would be a straight, serious slasher flick that would definitely be scary. IMDB lists a 2014 release date.
Another film, Kristy, follows a young woman under attack by masked assailants when she decides to stay at her college dorm over Thanksgiving who must now fight for her life. Dimension Films has been trying to get the movie off the ground for some time, and a few stills finally debuted this month showing off some really fantastic looking filmmaking behind the terror. Oliver Blackburn of Donkey Punch is behind it, and while they were hoping to get Emma Watson to star they've had to settle for Haley Bennet.
That's all in the future, though. For horror fans that want their turkey with a side of blood right now you should probably start with 1981's Home Sweet Home. Filmed in a huge hurry back at the birth of the slasher genre, the movie features a deranged maniac escaped from a mental institution that stalks a family having their traditional get-together.
It's one of those films that excels because of how incredibly terrible it is. Obviously the filmmakers were trying to claim Thanksgiving before anyone else did, and it shows in a script that reads like Mad Libs. Body by Jake's Jake Steinfeld is the killer, and spends the entire running length of the film laughing hysterically at absolutely nothing. He does get an inventive kill electrocuting someone with an electric guitar, though.
Piece continues on next page.
A better, if harder to find, film is John Grissmer's Blood Rage. It's an evil twin movie where Terry Simmons goes on an axe murdering spree, but has his brother Todd framed for the crimes. Years later, Todd escapes the asylum, which triggers Terry to begin a massacre on Thanksgiving starting with his own stepfather.
It's a clever little flick, if not exactly well-acted. Where it really shines is in the gore department. Grissmer was apparently not a fan of the cutaway shot, and the camera stays hardcore focused on some of the most impressive machete kills ever done including a woman sliced completely in half lengthwise.
Of course there is always ThanksKilling. Filmed in 2007 on a budget of $3,500, it's the tale of a cursed turkey killing college students on Thanksgiving break. Unlike Home Sweet Home, it's intentionally terrible, but no less enjoyable for that. It has a Corman-esque charm combined with a surprisingly deep inner rage. Producers Kevin Stewart and Jordan Downey raised over $100,000 on Kickstarter to shoot a sequel, which they released in 2012. I'd like to end with perhaps the greatest film description ever penned.
Fowl-mouthed villain Turkie carves through the likes of a rapping grandma, a mindless puppet, a wig-wearing inventor, a bisexual space worm, and their equally ridiculous friends on his quest to recover the last copy of ThanksKilling 2.
See folks? Anyone can make a movie provided its ridiculous enough.
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events