Horror Movies For The Holiday. Scary Movies On Turkey Day – Gobble Gobble You Up!

There are several things that make up the staple of an American Thanksgiving. The family get together, with some flying or driving from great distances, the crowd in front of the TV during the football game. The one family spouting nonstop about the atrocities that Thanksgiving represents. And that one relative who’s vegan or vegetarian and stares in horror at the cooked bird on the table. And then there’s quite afterward as multiple family members lean back and snore after stuffing themselves silly.  Now it’s your turn.

If you’re as fortunate as I am, most of your family are already horror film freaks, so a gathering isn’t to be wasted without having a few horror movies to riff together. If you’re not in that position, then it’s time to show them how holiday horror movies work, whether it be the ridiculous or the scary, the gory or the funny. Here are a few movies that can enhance your Thanksgiving holiday reunions. Kick that football game off and put these features on instead. They relatives that don’t get up and walk out are the ones you want to keep close forever.

ELI ROTH’S THANKSGIVING TRAILER (2007)

We also can’t go without mentioning the Turkey Day horror film that’s really not a film. In 2007 Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright, and others attached fake trailers to Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s GRINDHOUSE double feature. Roth’s contribution was the slasher flick THANKSGIVING. It appeared to be a bloody good time, complete with severed heads, impaled cheerleaders, and bodies served at the table. News of a complete film have come and gone, and those wishing for a feature length THANKSGIVING are left wondering if there’s any hope at all. Still, it’s a good few minutes to laugh with the fam.

THANKSKILLING (2008)

To lead off the family marathon, start them off with one that’s right on the nose, THANKSKILLING. The ultra-low-budget horror comedy involves a giant bird called “Turkie” (I’m serious) that rises every half century to kill those who have invaded native lands. Reanimating early, it sets its eyes on a group of college kids returning home for Thanksgiving. Turning horror tropes upside down and lighting them on fire, writer/director Jordan Downey gives us one of those films that have to be watched with a group of people because half of the fun is listening to them yell at the screen.

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THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)

I’m sure you’re thinking this has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, but Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece contains one of the greatest dinner scenes in horror history. In the last act of the film, Sally (Marilyn Burns) comes face to face with the murderous family that’s been knocking off her friends. If you really haven’t seen this before, then pop it on the TV right after dinner. It will leave quite an impression on your family, and either leaves you extremely popular or disowned, depending on the crowd. The film is entirely worth it, if not for this dinner scene alone, something the 2003 remake really should have included.

MOTEL HELL (1980)

Thanksgiving is nearly synonymous with food. So let’s talk about a movie that involves food. Good food. The best smoked meat this side of the river. You, the river. The film revolves around Famer Vincent and his sister Ida, the owners of “Motel Hello,” though the O flickers on and off. They’re known to have the best-smoked sausages around.  Their secret? The secret garden behind the farm, where they plant their human prey from the neck down, with their vocal cords cut so they can’t scream. The almost victim and Sheriff Bruce investigate and find the truth. MOTEL HELL is a classic film that satirizes films like TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, PSYCHO, and is sometimes funny where it doesn’t intend to be. But it might make you look twice at some of the meat you’re served on this holiday.

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BLOOD FEAST (1963)

The holidays are the time to delve into the classics. It doesn’t get much better than the Godfather of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis’ seminal splatterfest. We get to follow caterer Fuad Ramses as he begins putting together the type of feast that hasn’t been seen in 5000 years. Setting out on a serious killing spree, Fuad finds victim after victim, taking from them the ingredients he needs to complete his “blood feast” in honor of the Egyptian goddess Ishtar. Though over fifty years old, BLOOD FEAST remains one of the most memorable entries in what would be known as the splatter craze. You’re sure to get many nods of approval from your family members for this little treat.

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POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD (2006)

And now that you have the family frothing at the mouth for more, finish them off with the most ridiculous film you can come up with, Lloyd Kaufman’s POULTRYGEIST. If you’re familiar at all with Kaufman’s Troma Entertainment, you know that it can, at the same time, create someone like James Gunn, and polarizing low budget films. You either love them for their hardcore campiness or can’t stand to even be in the same room with one playing.  Let’s test your family out and see which they are.

A horror-comedy-musical, POULTRYGEIST has characters named like Arbie and Wendy, Denny, Paco Bell, and Carl Jr. It revolves around people trapped inside the American Chicken Bunker, including Kaufman as the chicken mascot while being attacked a demonic alien spirit that has possessed a chicken. Layered with the usual Troma tropes and gross-outs, the film, on one end, never takes itself seriously and never worries about who or what it’s offending, while actually being an enjoyable satire on zombie horror films.

Take that traditional family dinner and give it some well-needed spice. Kick in the official start of the holiday season with some grisly choices in film entertainment.  Enjoy the holidays while they last!!

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HONORABLE MENTIONS:

If you’re a Turkey Day riff-a-holic of old, or you don’t REALLY want to offend the family, you can once again tune into the always hilarious Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Marathon. This used to be the staple during its Comedy Central and SciFi run, and in 2013 Shout Factory revived the tradition,hosting a Turkey Day Marathon every year since. This year will be hosted by MST3K creator/host Joel Hodgson and the host of the new season coming to Netflix, Jonah Ray. The six-episode marathon can be seen on YouTube and ShoutFactoryTV.com

Jason Stollery has horror films encoded into his DNA, going so far as to name his sons Michael and Fred. He can be found talking all things film on Twitter @smegghed.

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