Trailer drops for Eli Roth’s Port Perry filmed slasher ‘Thanksgiving’

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Published October 6, 2023 at 4:33 pm

A still from Thanksgiving via Dimension Films.
A still from Thanksgiving via Dimension Films.

Horror aficionados have something else to be thankful for this weekend due to a new look at director Eli Roth’s upcoming splatterfest, Thanksgiving.

The long-awaited slasher has been on the way for years. Initially, it began as a fake trailer for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse double feature of Death Proof and Planet Terror in 2007.

The films featured several such trailers, including Rodriguez’s own Machete, Rob Zombie’s Nicolas Cage-starring Werewolf Women of the SS, Edgar Wright’s Don’t, Canadian Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun, and Roth’s Thanksgiving.

The Grindhouse project spawned several spin-offs out of these trailers. Machete led to a franchise of two gruesome actioners in 2010 and 2013 and a long-rumoured third installment. The Hobo with a Shotgun trailer was included based on Eisener winning a contest. He later spun off his own feature debut based on the trailer in 2011.

However, this family of not-so-friendly films laid dormant for ten years after Machete Kills. Zombie and Wright have not discussed feature adaptations of their trailers, though they’ve made other notable horror films in the years since.

Thanksgiving, though, always remained on Roth’s mind. The concept was an old idea he and his friend Jeff Rendell spawned inspired by other holiday horror classics like 1974’s Black Christmas and 1978’s Halloween. The pair wondered why no such movie existed for Thanksgiving.

“We were huge slasher movie fans and every November we were waiting for the Thanksgiving slasher movie. We had the whole movie worked out: A kid who’s in love with a turkey, and then his father killed it, and then he killed his family and went away to a mental institution and came back and took revenge on the town,’ Roth later told Rolling Stone.

Eventually, shortly after his break-out film Hostel, he got the chance to tease what could be. His trailer featured a silent unnamed Pilgrim (Rendell) who carves his way through a town celebrating the holiday while hunted by the town Sheriff (The Terminator‘s Michael Biehn).

While Roth gave several updates on a full-length adaptation of the trailer over the years, other projects prevented him from setting the table for it. He went on to direct several more films of his own, produce others and re-team with Tarantino to act in Inglorious Basterds.

After leaving Grindhouse fans starving for years, Roth finally confirmed he was cooking up Thanksgiving in February. Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey replaced Biehn in the Sherrif’s role. Filming began in Port Perry in March.

Township of Scugog Director of Public Works Carol Coleman confirmed production was underway in Port Perry, sharing some pictures of Roth directing scenes around the Thanksgiving parade. The parade, while initially joyous, takes a gruesome turn in the trailer when the Pilgrim arrives to “scare the stuffing” out of the town.

Following filming, the project needed a bit more time in the oven, but a trailer came out just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, this is just an appetizer. The main course will be served only in theatres on Nov. 17.

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