Thursday, November 25, 2021

Cannibal Pilgrim Traditions: The Last Thanksgiving (2020)

The Last Thanksgiving (2020)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Amanda Arrants, Jake Balser and Annie Collins

When it comes to holiday themes within slasher movies, Thanksgiving doesn't get as much love as Christmas, Halloween or even Easter. Not only do they lack in numbers, but only a handful of them really stands out such as the cheesy killer twin flick Blood Rage (1987) and the infamous cult classic homicidal turkey movie ThanksKilling (2008). Fortunately for us, we have folks out there contributing to the slowly but surely growing number of Thanksgiving frights. Folks like writer/director Erick Lorinc who graces Turkey Day with this rough little gem about small town diners getting terrorized by cannibalistic families.

In The Last Thanksgiving, the entire staff of Derry’s Famous Fish and Grits find themselves working during Thanksgiving with the rickety promise that they can go home early if no other customers would come in that evening. As luck would have it, not only does a customer (Horror icon Linnea Quigley! Nice!) show up to order dinner, they also have to entertain a man named Kurt Brimston who walked in looking for work, forcing the diner gang to stay a little longer. Unbeknownst to them all, their night's about to get worse as there's a family of psychotic cannibals cruising around town, looking for victims to hunt and eat as a part of their own twisted Thanksgiving family tradition. Conveniently for these creeps, Derry's just happens to be still open that night... 

Although it has the usual low-budget production pitfalls of awkward acting and dodgy writing, The Last Thanksgiving holds enough of a nifty premise and, too, a competent amount of gore and cheese to be at least a serviceable effort as a manic holiday slasher. The plot is simplistically straightforward, with us following a small group of troublesome diner staffs and the members of a deranged yet normal-looking cannibal family going about their day during Thanksgiving before the two parties eventually clash and the bodycount begins. Its as formulaic as most slashers tend to be, though its creative do-it-yourself aesthetics and the interesting directions it took to work the holiday theme into the story rather than mindlessly shoehorning it in do come off rather charming in their peculiar ways.

The only matter to mind here is that there isn't a lot of likable characters within the diner group, not with their paper-thin douchey motives and stereotyped personalities meshing horribly with subpar onscreen talent that involves a lot of annoying, aimless yelling, thus reducing most of our supposed protagonists down to standard kill count meat one simply cannot wait to get snuffed. Now I say "most" as a few did get a little better (or at least more tolerable) over the course of the film, particularly our lead heroine Lisa-Marie Taft who spend the first half of the film being basically a cynical big bitch to just about everyone within radius. Once the killings starts and she gets a bit of an emotional meltdown, the gal eventually mellowed down. Still stereotyped personality-wise though, but agreeable nonetheless. 

Thankfully our villains fare a little better albeit the low rent Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) persona they're trying to emulate, complete with that one dumb, mute and deformed big brother who is always wearing a mask and is the muscle of the family. They're the more memorable bunch as the casualness in their interactions while plotting and acting out their massacres often comes as cheeky as it is creepy, befitting the tone of their entertainingly maniacal backdrops as, according to the film's last act monologue, descendants of a pilgrim girl who murdered Native Americans and served them as food to her fellow starving settlers. It's silly and over-the-top but, as a fan of cheesy B-flicks, it all just works for me, especially when these villains can still dish out a range of decently gory kills, from the truly gruesome to the hilariously strange. (Like, if you think a pit of boiling gravy-like liquid to throw people in is too random of a murder method, how about decapitating the still-moving bony remains of a poor fella to ultimately kill them off?) 

As a potential Thanksgiving piece for one's seasonal horror pickings, I say The Last Thanksgiving sits dang well as a holiday guilty pleasure with a bit of personality. It may not be that polished, but this little movie slayed and served a satisfactory amount of Turkey Day horrors and bodily carnage for one's enjoyment. 

1 male gets a bread knife through the jaw, stabbed to death
1 female set ablaze
1 male gets a whisk stabbed into his eye
1 female had her scalp torn
1 female hacked in the back with a meat cleaver
1 female jabbed to death with a broom handle
1 male had his head split in half with a meat cleaver
1 female decapitated with a commercial dishwasher door
1 male dismembered with an electric knife
1 girl had her throat cut with a meat cleaver (flashback)
1 female gets a thrown hatchet to the head (flashback)
1 male ran through with a hedge trimmer (flashback)
1 male and 1 female electrocuted in a bath tub with a live radio (flashback)
1 female had her head crushed between a sliding door (flashback)
1 male decapitated (flashback)
1 male stabbed through the head with a fire poker (flashback)
1 female knifed (flashback)
1 male had his throat torn out from his gun shot-mutilated mouth
1 female gutted with an electric knife
1 male boiled in a pit, decapitated with a hatchet
1 male gets a pitchfork through his head
1 elderly female burned inside an oven, left for dead
Total: 22