For a spooky Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is often the forgotten middle sibling right in between the terrifyingly spooky Halloween season and the dazzling, jolly Christmas time. Halloween and Christmas have long dominated Hollywood with their own genres of movies dedicated to them. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving gets snubbed year after year with hardly any holiday movies dedicated to it, despite its family festivities and feasts.
There is a bright side though: if you're a lover of Halloween and horror, most Thanksgiving movies revolve around killer turkeys, brutal dinner massacres, and haunted college campuses during Thanksgiving break. Whether you're missing Halloween still, or in the mood for some ridiculous fun after turkey dinner, there are more than enough terrifying Thanksgiving movies for the holiday.
College student, Justine, can't afford to fly home for Thanksgiving break in Kristy. Instead, she is forced to stay on campus alone for the holiday weekend. While roaming the mostly empty college campus, she finds a girl named Violet alone in her room playing with a knife. Justine quickly realizes that the girl is more dangerous than she seems.
Violet is part of a violent cult who are out to kill the “Kristys” of the world, which they deem as God-fearing young women who have seemingly perfect lives. Justine spends her night on campus trying to escape the murderous cult members, and even engaging in some violence of her own.
The first thing you need to know before diving into 1972's food-related movie Blood Freak, is that the movie was originally rated X because of its excessive violence and gore. This horror sci-fi movie combines genetically modified, lab-grown turkeys with a gore fest so intense, not even the Thanksgiving tryptophan will be able to save you.
The movie follows Herschell, a man who just got back from Vietnam. He befriends a young, religious girl who invites him to her home where she lives with her sister, Ann. Ann plies him with drugs to seduce him, and he ends up liking them so much that he must come up with the money to feed his new addiction. Herschell takes a job at a turkey farm where he's instructed to eat some experimental turkeys, only to start hideously transforming into one himself.
Home Sweet Home follows an escaped mental patient who happens to be super strong and wants to ruin someone's Thanksgiving dinner. He chooses the isolated country home of the Bradley family, whose celebratory night is shattered by the arrival of the terrifying killer.
Home Sweet Home has the perfect formula of old-school slasher mixed with the trappings of a vintage horror film. It also happens to be the only Thanksgiving horror movie ever directed by a woman, Nettie Peña, providing a fresh take on the outrageousness of the Thanksgiving horror genre. It is truly the movie that just keeps giving with a guitar-playing mime and some of the best kills in the history of slashers.
2021's Black Friday was a treat for Evil Dead fans as it saw horror icon, Bruce Campbell, back on the big screen after a years-long hiatus. The movie put a new terrifying spin on the consumerist Black Friday “holiday” that occurs on the day after Thanksgiving – albeit, with a lot more zombies.
Black Friday follows the horrifying hordes of shoppers that descend upon malls and stores every year and the unlucky employees who must deal with them. In the movie, a group of disgruntled toy store employees finds themselves battling much more than just shoppers though. The customers have all been turned into monstrous creatures hellbent on killing anything in their path.
Todd and Terry are identical twins in 1987's Blood Rage. One night at a drive-in theater, the boys spot their mother locked in a make-out session with a strange man. Terry ends up exploding into a rage upon seeing them and ends up killing a teenager in a nearby car. He blames the murder on his twin brother, and Todd is locked up in an asylum while Terry gets to live out the rest of his adolescent life.
Ten years later on Thanksgiving day, Todd escapes the asylum and Terry is still going about his murderous ways, hellbent on killing any man his mother gets involved with. Terry tries to kill his mom's current partner, while Todd tries to get his own bloody revenge. It's a Thanksgiving movie about a dysfunctional family that's riveting from start to finish.
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead comes from the shocksploitation masters that brought us The Toxic Avenger and The Class of Nuke 'Em High series. The film is a black comedy horror musical and while it isn't necessarily a Thanksgiving movie, it has enough poultry in it to make it a perfect match for the holiday.
The movie centers around a New Jersey fried chicken fast-food restaurant that was accidentally built on top of an ancient, haunted Native American burial ground. The displaced Native American spirits unite with the ghosts of exterminated chickens and transform into a horde of zombie chickens seeking revenge.
While Boogeyman doesn't have much to do with killer turkeys or dinner massacres, the supernatural horror film does happen to take place on Thanksgiving. The catalyst for the movie's plot happens when the protagonist, Tim, and his girlfriend take a trip to her parents' house on Thanksgiving.
As a young boy, Tim witnessed his father be taken by the Boogeyman himself, making him terrified of closets and his childhood home ever since. After Tim arrives with his girlfriend for Thanksgiving dinner, he experiences a premonition that his mom needs him to come home. It turns out that his mom is actually dead though, and Tim's psychiatrist suggests that he returns to his childhood home to face his fears once and for all.
This horror-comedy is campy, gory, and filled with crass humor and a plot so outlandish that the ridiculousness of it all makes it too much fun not to watch after Thanksgiving dinner. The movie is filled with practical effects and a killer turkey that taunts his victims with the personality of Eric Cartman and the catchphrase, “Gobble, gobble, motherf**ker.”
With all of the absurdity, the film takes itself less seriously than even its viewers might. ThanksKilling starts in 1621, during the very first Thanksgiving when a turkey wielding a tomahawk brutally kills a pilgrim. The film then jumps to modern times where a group of teens starts discussing Thanksgiving urban legends – one of which involves a demon turkey. This year, he shows up early to kill anyone in his path during the holiday.
Krisha, starring the mesmerizing Krisha Fairchild, leans more toward a drama than a true horror movie, but it encompasses all of the eeriness and harrowing shocks of the genre. It is paced and shot like a horror film, and instead of eradicating its family drama at the Thanksgiving dinner table, it lovingly slices it open with emotional outbursts in one of the seemingly worst family reunions in modern horror.
The titular character is what truly makes the movie worth watching, as her subtle acting and charisma make her rule the screen in this A24 film. The movie follows Krisha, who returns to her estranged family for Thanksgiving, and past demons threaten to ruin the festivities.
Over Thanksgiving weekend in college, five students decide to stay on campus for the holiday. Lauren has been seeing things in her bathroom lately though, specifically a young, silent child. Her roommate's boyfriend decides to hold a séance with the group to figure out what Lauren's been seeing, even though none of them believe in the paranormal at all.
The séance goes terribly wrong though, and horrible things start to happen on the campus where the students' only defender is a singular college cop. The group of roommates is left wondering if they should hold another séance to correct their mistakes. But what happens if they succumb to the evilness themselves – audiences are left to find out for themselves in the underrated horror movie Séance.
NEXT: Movies to Prepare You for Family Gatherings This Holiday Season
Kendra is a writer & cinematographer who has been obsessed with films since she first saw Diva Plavalaguna hit high notes in The Fifth Element. She is drawn to darkness, creating nightmares, and getting lost in dreams.
For a spooky Thanksgiving.