Name a holiday, there’s a horror movie for that. Even less appreciated holidays like April’s Fools Day and Mother’s Day have movies for them. Friday the 13th, though not technically a holiday, but we celebrate it as such, has one of the most profitable and iconic franchises based around it. Christmas is an easy one, also a day that has a plethora of well known slashers. But what about Thanksgiving? It seems like the closest thing we got was Eli Roth’s mock trailer for Grindhouse, Thanksgiving. Eli Roth has talked about making it a full length feature from time to time, but who knows if it will ever come to light (writer Chris Crum just wrote an excellent piece on this yesterday, so check it out). Of course, there is also Thankskilling and Thankskilling 3, but what about a real horror movie set on the day we get together as a family and consume mass amounts of food?
Well, it turns out back in 1981 there was a horror movie set at Thanksgiving… although that’s as close as it gets to the holiday. It’s not the central theme, nor does it feel like a holiday movie, it just so happens to take place on that day. It may as well take place on any other day, but at least they tried, even if it was only to cash in on holiday slashers. You know, for the most part. The film isn’t exactly known for being “good” or anything. It does, however, star Jake Steinfeld, the titular character from the hit 1990 show Big Brother Jake! Okay, so it wasn’t a hit, but I may or may not have watched it. Jake also had a line of exercise programs called Body by Jake and was the founder of a company called FitOrbit, a fitness and weight loss program. Maybe that would have the better movie; Jake going on a killing spree on his live exercise TV program. The guy is still into working out, so he has the perfect build for your prototypical slasher, making this the perfect role for him.
Eh, maybe not.
There is a reason this movie is forgotten. Besides not being all that great, Jake’s performance is laughable, although sometimes that’s what we are looking for even if it wasn’t the filmmakers intentions. He spends a majority of the movie bug eyed and chuckling like a lunatic (which he plays, so I guess job well done) and there is also this kid dressed up like a mime, face paint and all, with a guitar and amp strapped to his back. Can someone tell me what the objective of having a character like this was? My guess is he was a spoof on the type of character Neddy was in Friday the 13th, but he tends to stop the show for me, because I can’t take an image like that seriously. I have to pause and scratch my head, wondering what they were thinking. Who is supposed to relate to this character? The KISS army? Comic relief characters are supposed to reflect a personality of someone we know to make them relatable, but this… what is this? I’m thinking about this way too much. The others aren’t even worth mentioning, since they are your stereotyped stock slasher characters. Really, watch any slasher flick and there ya go, they’re in this movie too. Not to say their performances were piss poor or anything, but it’s not enough to save the film.
Gorehounds will have to look elsewhere, as there isn’t much in blood and guts. To be honest, the effects are done quite poorly, certainly nothing to write home about. The story is also pretty stale and is noticeably just a quick cash in on the then slasher boom, so you have to wonder; who was this movie made for? Back then, making a slasher was like printing money. You couldn’t lose, but this is one of those films that just led to the oversaturation of the genre.
So what was I saying about the plot? It’s stale? Ok, so stop me if you’ve heard this one; a lunatic escapes from the mental hospital, steals a station wagon and heads home to murder people on a well known holiday.
Do I really have to come out and tell you what that would be?
In any case, if you’re daring enough or you like throwing money away, you can nab a copy from Amazon for a kinda hefty price and to my knowledge, it’s just a VHS rip and not even a great one.
Or you can check out the whole movie in the video below. It’s worth at least one watch and to see Jake Steinfeld act like a raving madman.
An escaped mental patient steals a station wagon and makes his way to the Bradleys’ Thanksgiving celebration, where he plans to make them a little less thankful…
And just to take you down memory lane… DON’T QUIT!
Also because it’s the Thanksgiving season, here is the Thanksgiving episode of Big Brother Jake.