How Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving Movie Compares To Fake Grindhouse Trailer


  • Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving movie finally hit the big screens, becoming a staple in the slasher genre thanks to its entertaining adaptation of the Grindhouse trailer.
  • Thanksgiving features a more star-studded cast compared to the Grindhouse trailer, with A-list actors bringing name recognition and higher budget to the film.
  • Thanksgiving is a proper slasher film, incorporating humor through satire and providing commentary on consumerism, while also deviating from the fake trailer.

Before Tristar Pictures made the feature-length film, Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving was a fake Grindhouse trailer, making it easy to compare the two projects. In 2007, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino released the cult classic film Grindhouse, a double feature of Planet Terror and Death Proof. Between the two films, Grindhouse includes five fake trailers that parody different genres. Roth’s fake trailer for Thanksgiving quickly became a fan favorite due to its campy gore and salacious nudity.

Over the past decade and a half, audiences have called for a feature-length film based on the fake Thanksgiving trailer. This possibility became stronger after the Grindhouse trailers for Machete and Hobo With a Shotgun were turned into films. On November 17, the film version of Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving finally hit the big screens. By picking and choosing what parts of the Grindhouse trailer to adapt, Roth created an entertaining movie that will undoubtedly become a staple in the slasher genre.

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Thanksgiving’s Cast Features More Stars Than The Grindhouse Trailer

When comparing the two projects, it’s clear that Thanksgiving has a much higher number of Hollywood stars than the Grindhouse trailer. Jay Hernandez and Jordan Ladd are the only recognizable actors attached to the trailer. Meanwhile, Thanksgiving includes stars like Addison Rae, Patrick Dempsey, Rick Hoffman, and Gina Gershon. This change most likely comes from Thanksgiving having a bigger budget than the fake trailer. The Thanksgiving film could afford to hire A-list actors who would bring in audiences based on name recognition alone.

Thanksgiving did not receive a simultaneous streaming release.

Thanksgiving’s Story Follows The Basic Premise Of The Fake Trailer

This image shows a Thanksgiving parade with people watching from the sidewalks.

Eli Roth’s Grindhouse trailer includes a sparse storyline; however, what does appear is used as source material for the holiday film. Both productions follow a killer who attacks two couples and a Thanksgiving parade. In both the trailer and the film, the killer also creates a Thanksgiving dinner complete with a roasted woman tied up like a turkey — though the actual setup looks almost nothing alike.

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On top of the matching premise, Thanksgiving recreates vital parts of the Grindhouse trailer. The film’s opening matches the trailer’s opening, showing a character approaching a house while breathing heavily. The start of the massacre at the Thanksgiving parade looks remarkably similar, with the movie only adding more story and tension. Additionally, Thanksgiving utilizes the parody scene in which a cheerleader starts stripping in front of her boyfriend while jumping on a trampoline. This scene is altered slightly, taking out the upper body nudity.

Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving Movie Is A Proper Slasher, Not A Parody

Patrick Dempsey as John Carver stalks a victim in Thanksgiving

The fake trailer created by Eli Roth parodies slasher movies from the ’70s and ’80s, like Halloween and My Bloody Valentine. When a full-length film was announced, questions surfaced about whether the film would also be a parody. In contrast to expectations, Thanksgiving is a proper slasher film, complete with excessive blood and gore. That isn’t to say Thanksgiving doesn’t incorporate humor because it does. However, these moments lean into satire, not parody. The exaggerated and ironic shots throughout the film provide meaningful commentary on the dangers of consumerism.

Thanksgiving’s Killer Is Not Hidden Like In The Fake Trailer

An ax murderer on the poster for Eli Roth's Thanksgiving

The killer’s appearance is one of the most significant differences between the Grindhouse trailer and Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving slasher movie. In the trailer, the killer is known as the Pilgrim. They wear pilgrim attire, but they don’t have a mask. In the movie, the killer is known as John Carver, and they wear a pilgrim outfit with a mask of the eponymous Plymouth Colony governor. This change might seem small, but it has a significant impact on the perception of the movie.

One of the biggest components of a classic slasher film is the presence of a killer wearing a recognizable outfit, usually one that includes a mask. The hat is the only part of the fake trailer that meets this requirement. Thanksgiving spiffs up the killer’s outfit to make it more distinctive and adds a mask that will be recognizable and marketable years after the movie’s release.

Thanksgiving Changes Cinematography Elements From The Fake Trailer

Eli Roth’s faux trailer for Thanksgiving relies heavily on the campy cinematography styles and techniques common in horror movies during the ’70s and ’80s. The trailer includes lo-fi visuals with a scratchy overlay, creating a vintage look. Rather than smooth transitions, the Grindhouse trailer abruptly cuts from one shot to the next. At certain points, the screen floods with bright red, giving the impression it’s covered with blood. While these choices make sense in an old slasher trailer, they don’t fit into a modern movie.

Related: 10 Slasher Movies That Broke The Biggest Slasher Movie Rules

The feature-length version of Thanksgiving discards almost all of these cinematography elements, relying instead on modern-day editing styles. Though it keeps the atmospheric color palette, the movie includes excellent visuals without any blemishes. Each shot smoothly transitions into the next, rather than drawing attention away from the story. The screen never goes red, but the blood-drip text style still appears on the title card. Ultimately, these changes will make the movie more appealing to a broader audience that’s used to current trends in cinematography.

Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving Movie Leaves Out The Infamous Blowjob Scene

A woman screaming with a dark figure behind her in Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving avoids disaster by removing one of the funniest and most explicit scenes in the fictional trailer. Roth’s Grindhouse trailer includes a now infamous scene of a teenager named Judy giving her boyfriend a blowjob. When she reaches up to stroke his neck, she finds a bloody stump where his neck used to be. After its release, Roth shared with LA Times that the fake Thanksgiving trailer was so graphic that the MPAA board almost gave Grindhouse a dreaded NC-17 rating.

As Roth revealed, he only got away with including this in the fake trailer because of the awful splicing and the distressed, scratchy visuals. Thanksgiving removes the blowjob-decapitation scene to maintain an R rating — a smart choice since they exclude many visual elements present in the trailer. Maybe he could have included a blowjob on its own, but the scene from the faux trailer is only impactful with the sex and the gore.

Thanksgiving Includes More Weapons Than The Grindhouse Trailer

A hat-wearing figure stands in the middle of a small-town street with an axe held over his shoulder.

Eli Roth’s fake trailer includes multiple violent murders committed by the Pilgrim. Despite this, the killer only uses a chef’s knife, a cleaver, and an ax. Throughout Thanksgiving, John Carver uses all the weapons in the trailer and less conventional options like an electric turkey carver, a table saw, corncob holders, and a dumpster. This change served the movie well, allowing for more gory and violent deaths. Plus, the unique methods set Thanksgiving apart from other slasher films.

Source: LA Times

  • Thanksgiving 2023 Movie Poster


    Release Date:

    Eli Roth

    Addison Rae, Patrick Dempsey, Jalen Thomas Brooks, Nell Verlaque, Milo Manheim, Gina Gershon


    Horror, Thriller

    Eli Roth, Jeff Rendell

    Spyglass Media Group, Electromagnetic Productions

    TriStar Pictures

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