Morbidly Beautiful

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If you’re hungry for a little Thanksgiving horror, our writers share ten tasty holiday favorites that aren’t the same ol’ dish.

Originally posted November 25, 2021, this post has been updated slightly since its original publication.

After gorging ourselves on Halloween horror and before the bountiful feast that is the Christmas slay fest, there is the neglected middle child known as Thanksgiving. And for those craving a tasty Turkey Day treat, the pickings are a bit slim. That’s especially true if you actually want to watch a reasonably satisfying horror film and not just fill up on empty calories (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

So, for those of you looking to serve up something different this Thanksgiving, our team has put together a list of a few savory options you may have missed. 

1. Kristy (2014)

Holiday horror tends to skew towards high camp and high concept. This isn’t inherently a bad thing — who doesn’t want to see, say, Gary Busey turns into an evil gingerbread man and go on a maple-spice rampage? But it doesn’t particularly lend itself to genuine fear. Kristy is an outlier in that it is a genuinely frightening movie that cleverly uses its Thanksgiving setting, not as a gimmick, but as a pivotal plot point.

Kristy is a movie about a young college student named Justine, who remains on campus over the Thanksgiving break while her peers go home. She is stalked and terrorized by a religious cult, determined that if they can kill “Kristys” — women they perceive as followers of God — they can kill God.

Imagine, if you will, my finest Stefon voice:

This movie has everything. Cults, gore, a cool final girl, some social commentary, clever use of modern tech and snuff films.  And all of it works because of the isolation that Justine experiences, owing to the Thanksgiving setting.

Without one evil turkey in sight, Kristy is a sober, intense option if you need something to perk you up after the tryptophan kicks in (and perhaps if you want to assure that your more conservative relatives aren’t tempted to invite you to the next holiday dinner.)

– Recommended by Kelly Mintzer

If you haven’t seen Kristy,  you’re in for a real Thanksgiving treat; check it out now on Tubi. 

2. Addams Family Values (1993)

When you’re in the mood for Turkey Day, there’s no better pick than Addams Family Values, the sequel to The Addams Family (1991)  that had the delightful quality of being just as good as the original film but in an entirely different way.

Addams Family Values sees young Wednesday and Pugsley sent off to summer camp as Uncle Fester (an almost recognizable Christopher Lloyd) is ensnared by the new nanny. The seductive, if homicidal, Debbie (Joan Cusack, in one of her best performances).

The entire cast is stellar, with Christine Baranski and Peter MacNichols as the manic camp counselors and Christina Ricci as the iconic Wednesday, featuring the creepiest smile since the Joker came on the scene.

While the movie is set in summer, the best part of the film is the camp play, based on the first Thanksgiving. As the counselors bustle with their dancing foods and whitewashed history (and Pugsley sings “Eat Me” while dressed as a giant turkey), Wednesday turns the tables with an act of clever revenge that is more satisfying than that last bite of pumpkin pie.

Hilarious, wickedly smart, and flawlessly acted, Addams Family Values is the rare second helping of a horror-comedy hit that’s just as delicious as the first. 

– Recommended by Alli Hartley

Relive the magic of Addams Family Values now on Netflix. 

3. “Into the Dark” Pilgrim (2019)

Many Thanksgiving horror films are associated with the holiday simply because they happen on Thanksgiving or a turkey happens to be present. But not many horror films are actually about the Thanksgiving Season — except for 2019’s Pilgrim.

Originally released on Hulu as part of Blumhouse’s “Into the Dark” Series, Pilgrim follows a well-to-do suburban family who invites a pilgrim into their home for a more original Thanksgiving celebration. As the days go on, more and more pilgrims start coming to the family’s home. What was supposed to be a simple reenactment turns into a nightmare as the pilgrims torture the family to get them to realize all they should be thankful for.

Similar to the holiday that inspired it, the most important moment of this film is the big meal. Only, at this horrific feast, it’s not the turkey that’s on the menu but something much more sinister. It all culminates in one of the goriest and batshit crazy scenes in recent memory — all juxtaposed with gospel music. It’s disorienting and demented…what more could you ask for?

The film is directed by Marcus Dunstan, who also directed The Collector bu