Just last year I wrote an article about how Thanksgiving goes largely ignored as a time for horror movies even though it comes right between the holidays which inspire the most genre films: Halloween and Christmas...
...Only a handful of movies dare to create a film around the November holiday, so I always give a lot of thanks for new Thanksgiving horror. Currently making its East Coast Premiere at the Salem Horror Fest, writer/director Eric Lorinc makes his film debut with The Last Thanksgiving, and the movie is like if John Waters and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre had a baby and then that baby grew up to host its own Thanksgiving. Over the top characters find themselves in a bizarre situation when a family of cannibals invades an overstaffed restaurant on Thanksgiving where the campy dialogue and kitchen-inspired gore will have you asking for seconds.
Not-so-family-friendly spirits fill the air at Lisa-Marie’s (Samantha Ferrand) house. The first words spoken to the protagonist come from her screaming mother. Lisa-Marie dropped out of college and now lives at home with her parents and no one seems to enjoy the situation. Her mother harps on her to get to work (even though it’s Thanksgiving) and her father does not offer much help in the argument. After a bit more screaming and throwing of insults, Lisa-Marie leaves, and the focus switches to the Brimston family who has quite a different domestic atmosphere. Everyone behaves politely and compliments each other. Great care goes into preparing food, and all without anyone raising their voice. Aside from the large mask-wearing brother, a person trapped in a back room, and a family affinity for human blood, the household really depicts the quintessential holiday household.
The film now switches location again and we finally arrive at the main setting for the story: Derry’s Diner. No one seems terribly pleased with working on a holiday and as Lisa-Marie walks into work we get a quick introduction to depressed goth Trudie (Gaby Spampiro), nerdy optimistic Eddie (Brandon Holzer) who has a crush on dreamy Tyler (Robert Richards Jr.), besties Ms. Perez (Madelin Merchant) and Mrs Kim (Tametria Harris) who find solace in each other, and the owner of the restaurant Mr. Pearl (Nicolas Punales). Mr. Pearl’s father, Mr. Pearl Sr. (Francisco D Gonzalez) is also hanging out at the diner, so lots of lonely people this Thanksgiving. But Mr. Pearl tries to stay positive and reminds everyone they are all “like” a family and should find some good in their current situation. If the fairly large staff working a small diner during Thanksgiving seems unlikely, feel reassured the overstaffed restaurant just ups the body count. Two cooks, two waitresses, one host, one bartender, the boss and his dad, all work together to wait on one customer: the lonely Paulette (Linnea Quigley, Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Demons).
Back at the cannibal’s household, Cordelia Brimston (Tristan Petashnick) shares with their unseen captive how the family does the same routine every year when it comes to the holiday season. And while they all enjoy the thrill of killing humans (especially when the opportunity for a one-liner presents itself), the need for improvement pushes the family to think outside the box this year. Instead of following with the traditional home invasion, the Brimstons set their sights on Derry’s Diner. So, Kurt (Matthew McClure) the cannibal appears at the restaurant under the pretense of looking for a job, but he is actually looking to get someone to go. A quick whisk to the eye, cigarette down the throat, and cleaver through the head will help get the Thanksgiving feast started.
The Last Thanksgiving combines delicious gore and a quirky cavalcade of characters which border between campy fun and creep-tastic. Big brother Trip Brimston (Michael Vitovich) plays the Leatherface of the family as his large size and silent demeanor make him a physically intimidating villain. And to keep with the holiday theme, Trip wears a pilgrim mask just to make the movie more festive. What’s even more fun about the movie is that is a true Thanksgiving horror! Not just a horror movie that happens to take place on or around the holiday but occurs because of the holiday. The cannibals use Thanksgiving as a means to honor the memory of a long-ago family member. Apparently, cannibalism dates back to the first Thanksgiving and is what started the family tradition of eating people. The Brimstons idolize Thanksgiving so much that they target people who do not believe in the spirit of the holiday, so lonely people and people avoiding their family become the main course.
Lorinc definitely entered the world of feature length film with a bang. He created a gory tale of cannibals that does not take itself too seriously and knows how to enjoy the holiday. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about family and food, but after you tire of all that, sit down and enjoy The Last Thanksgiving which will hopefully become a new holiday tradition for the horror fam.
By Amylou Ahava
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