The heart of any slasher movie is the kills, and Eli Roth – the genre’s maestro – would make sure that Thanksgiving reflected his best work.
“Every kill had to meet our standards of scare and gore,” says the Thanksgiving director. “If the movie didn’t deliver on its promise, we’d be dead.” And Roth had the added pressure of having done it already when he made a fake Thanksgiving movie trailer upon the request of his friend Quentin Tarantino, as part of the latter’s Grindhouse double-feature with another fan-favorite director Robert Rodriguez. “I found myself not just trying to match what I did in the trailer, but trying to top it in every way possible,” continues Roth.
Which is why early on, Roth began discussing the project with prosthetics genius Adrien Morot (The Whale, for which he won the Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar®). “His craftsmanship is second to none,” shares Roth. “Adrien and his wife Kathy made the most incredibly realistic and beautiful heads and body parts I have ever seen. They were so beautiful! But of course, no matter how beautiful the fake head, it must be smashed in with a meat tenderizer.”
Watch the cast of Thanksgiving share their favorite kills in the movie. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers!
Getting to make a horror movie is, for Roth, standing on the shoulders of giants. “We look at the kills and say, okay, how can we outdo ourselves? And not just ourselves, but every other movie?” he says. “It’s a badge of honor for us to get the best kill. Every time you make a horror movie, you have a chance to enter into the pantheon of horror greats. The opportunity is there if you take it. So with every death, we try to truly make it a classic.”
How does he know when a kill has that special something? “I have to have that ‘ugh’ feeling… I have a very, very, very high tolerance for movie gore, so if a scene is upsetting me, then I know it’s gonna work for a general audience,” says Roth.
Filming a classic kill is a responsibility the director takes very seriously. “I’m always most excited on a day when we’re filming a kill scene, I have this nervous pit in my stomach and I can’t relax until I know we have the kill on camera,” Roth says. “The timing of the head falling off, the swing of the axe, the way the blood pumps – a million things can go wrong. But when they go right there’s nothing like it.”
This November, a new horror legend will emerge. Thanksgiving, starring Patrick Dempsey, opens in cinemas November 22.
After a Black Friday riot ends in tragedy, a mysterious Thanksgiving-inspired killer terrorizes Plymouth, Massachusetts – the birthplace of the infamous holiday. Picking off residents one by one, what begins as random revenge killings are soon revealed to be part of a larger, sinister holiday plan. Will the town uncover the killer and survive the holidays…or become guests at his twisted holiday dinner table?
Directed by Eli Roth, and written by Roth and Jeff Rendell. Produced by Roth, Roger Birnbaum and Rendell.
Starring Patrick Dempsey, Addison Rae, Milo Manheim, Jalen Thomas Brooks, Nell Verlaque, Rick Hoffman and Gina Gershon.