Films focused on Thanksgiving are few and far between, but, when it comes to Thanksgiving horror movies, pickings are slim save for these seven.
When it comes to horror, there are seemingly endless options: supernatural, slasher, home invasion, comedy, and even holiday-themed. Full of thrills and chills based around those special times of the year that bring families together, why not throw some murder into the mix? Hulu’s Into The Dark has capitalized on this popular subgenre, and have been premiering a new film for each month since 2018. The Purge movies release on the fourth of July, and the Halloween franchise has followed the brutal killings of Michael Myers since the late 1970s.
There is one major American holiday that doesn’t seem to get its fair share of spine-chilling, gore-tacular movies, though, and that’s Thanksgiving. The day set aside for giving thanks, gorging on food, and watching sports is often forgotten between the hustle and bustle of Halloween and Christmas. It appears that many filmmakers have forgotten about it too… or have they?
7 ThanksKilling (2008) – 4.2
It isn’t difficult to figure out why there aren’t as many scary movies centered around celebrating Thanksgiving, as there is about Halloween. Really, what’s so scary about turkeys and mashed potatoes? Apparently, a lot—at least if said turkey is possessed by an evil spirit.
This comedic cult classic puts a ridiculous spin on the slasher genre and replaces a masked murderer for a feathered monster as a murderous turkey takes vengeance on a group of college kids during Thanksgiving break. The critics may not think this one is exactly a cinematic masterpiece, but it still manages to have a cult following amongst niche horror fans.
6 The Oath (2018) – 5.4
After refusing to sign an oath of loyalty to the United States, Chris and Kai’s Thanksgiving weekend spirals out of control as they struggle to protect themselves and their children from government agents, and survive to see next Thanksgiving.
Starring Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz, who also wrote and directed the film, The Oath is more dark comedy and thriller than outright horror, but it is full of horrifying implications and horror-comedy tropes, as it plays on fears of government overreach and loss of freedoms.
5 Pilgrim (2019) – 5.7
In an attempt to bring her distant family closer together, a mother hires Thanksgiving history re-enactors to stay with them at their home while they prepare to give them an authentic Thanksgiving experience. Initially thrilled with their commitment to their roles and their in-depth knowledge, things get dark when their refusal to break character turns sinister.
Created for Hulu’s holiday-horror series Into The Dark, what is supposed to be educational family fun turns into a horrific lesson about the dangers of inviting complete strangers into your home.
4 Blood Rage (1987) – 5.8
The 80s was the decade of cheesy slashers that gave horror fanatics everywhere the classics such as Prom Night, Friday The 13th, and A Nightmare On Elm Street. John Grismer’s Blood Rage puts a holiday-themed twist on the “evil twin” trope.
After being framed for a crime that his identical twin committed, Todd spends ten agonizing years in a mental institution, while his brother walks free. Upon hearing of his brother’s escape from the institution, Terry gives in to his murderous tendencies once again with hopes of framing Todd. Will the true killer ever be found?
3 Kristy (2014) – 5.9
Unable to afford to fly home for the holidays, Justine finds herself all alone in the dorms for Thanksgiving break after a friend’s unexpected change of plans. She resigns herself to a quiet week on her own, but what she gets is anything but peaceful.
Thanksgiving night, Justine stops by a nearby store to stock up on snacks to prepare for the long weekend and is followed home by a mysterious girl named Violet, a member of a ruthless cult that ritualistically stalks and murders women they label as “Kristy.”
2 Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead (2006) – 6.1
This one isn’t exactly about Thanksgiving Day itself, but fans with collections that include Poltergeist, ThanksKilling, and ThanksKilling 3, which is only the second movie in the franchise, would be remiss to not give it a watch this Turkey Day… but probably wait for grandma to leave first.
It’s a comedy, parody, horror, and a musical all rolled into one! Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead spins the tale of zombified chickens as they mercilessly hunt down fast-food employees that work at a restaurant that was once built on ancient Native American burial grounds.
1 Thanksgiving (2007) – 7.7
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s blood-splattered action-horror double-feature, Grindhouse, features an intermission that includes five fake trailers made by famous directors. Thanksgiving is a gore-filled short that warns of the horrific killing spree by a murder known only as “The Pilgrim.”
The piece was written and directed by Eli Roth, known for graphically violent work in horror films such as Cabin Fever, The Green Inferno, and Hostel. Fans of Roth have shown interest for years in the short being revisited as a feature-length film, but, thus far, word of its production is purely rumor.
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