Though it took a few years (or 10), Director Eli Roth says he's been wanting to make a Thanksgiving-themed slasher film since he was a kid.
"I think it was one of the things that almost paralyzed me from making the film because I was so happy with the trailer and felt like, you know, we did it. We got the best parts, it was done. I don't have to actually make the movie now," Roth explains to GamesRadar+, talking about the fake trailer the film is based on. "The truth is I've been wanting to do this since I was 12 years old. You know, Jeff Rendell is my best friend and we grew up together and we watched every single slasher movie together and we’d seen that every single holiday had been done, there were no holidays left, but we were in Massachusetts where Thanksgiving's like the biggest deal. So our whole lives we wanted to make a Thanksgiving horror movie."
The fake trailer for Thanksgiving was created for Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's 2007 movie Grindhouse, and features non-stop gory kills that involved human turkeys, carving knives, and a murderous pilgrim. The clip, just over two minutes long, went viral and has remained well-loved within the horror community ever since. News of a full-length movie hit the press several times throughout the years, leading up to October 2023 – when the real trailer for the real movie hit the internet.
"The Grindhouse trailer was an opportunity to try out those kills and have fun, but the intent was always to make it like Halloween, My Bloody Valentine, Mute Witness, Scream. And we couldn't for a long time figure out what the movie was about, like what is it thematically?" Roth continues. "And then we started seeing those Black Friday videos that were appearing about 10 years ago where the midnight sale had happened and there were these viral videos of people getting trampled and killing each other for flat-screen TVs and Waffle Irons and PlayStations. We thought, this is what we can set it around. It's thematically on point with what we want and it gives us a reason to do the movie. So once we had that, it all kind of clicked into place."
Taking place in the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, the film's core tragedy is a Black Friday sale gone horribly wrong, with a crowd crush resulting in fatality. One year later, a masked serial killer dubbed John Carver descends on the town to enact his revenge. Jeff Rendell, who penned the screenplay for the feature-length, plays Carver in the fake trailer, with Jordan Ladd, Jay Hernandez, and Roth as the victims, and Michael Biehn as the sheriff. This time around, Patrick Dempsey plays the sheriff, while the killer sets his sights on a group of teenagers. The teens in question include Nell Verlaque, Addison Rae, Milo Manheim, and Jalen Thomas Brooks.
Thanksgiving hits theaters on November 17. For more, check out our list of the most exciting upcoming movies in 2023 and beyond.