Video Visions: A Very Cannibal Thanksgiving

Photo of a scene from the movie Motel Hell, depicting a man wearing a pig head using a chain saw to menace a police officer

Black background with spooky lettering that says Hunter Shea Video Visions and the Cemetery Dance logo

Like all things in 2020, Thanksgiving will be a little different this year. Uncle Hank who showers only on quarter moons and is addicted to scratch-off tickets is not welcome in the house. Nor is cousin Amber, she of the chronic rhinitis and inexhaustible lineup of failed relationships. We tell ourselves it’s for everyone safety, but really, aren’t you glad they’re not coming?

One thing you will never hear from me in my house on Thanksgiving is, “Can you please pass the turkey leg?” Gnawing on the flesh and bones of a dumb bird nauseates me. In fact, I’m happy to skip the turkey altogether, even though I’m the one who cooks it to perfection. I’m more of a carbo-overload kinda guy. Give me a plate piled high with stuffing, Jack Daniels sweet potatoes and fresh baked biscuits. Wash it all down with some high octane IPA and I’m good to go…to sleep.

For us horror fans, there isn’t a lot of gory fare to choose from on turkey massacre day. Or at least not many good ones, which is why ThanksKilling has become our annual go-to. (Hint-hint aspiring film makers!)

Any good feast is made up of a variety of dishes from different places and people. I’m your non-celebrity chef, Hunter, and I’m here to serve up some heaping helpings of creepy cuisine. Because in this genre, if you’re going to talk about orgiastic mastication, you need to consider sampling from the best.

A man once told me, “It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters.” Why, one bite of his famous jerky will make a lifelong cannibal out of you. Of course I’m talking about the movie, Motel Hell, the 1980 slasher-comedy classic starring an aging Rory Calhoun as the county’s preeminent purveyor of homemade meat stuff.

Vincent also owns the Motel Hello and lives with his bat shit crazy sister, Ida, who is an American treasure. Vincent stalks the dark roads at night, setting traps to cause minor car accidents. He then drugs and buries the live victims up to their necks in his secret garden, severing their vocal cords and feeding them through tubes attached to funnels until they’re fattened up enough to become part of Farmer Vincent’s choice cuts. Along the way, he falls in love with one of his young prisoners, battles with his cop brother over her affection, buries Cliff Clavin (who is a drummer in a rock band and smokes some Mary Jane), captures a pair of hilarious swingers, and has a chainsaw fight while wearing a giant pig head. If you haven’t see Motel Hell, as the great Shane Keene often says, you need to unfuck that.

Photo of a scene from the movie Motel Hell, depicting a man wearing a pig head using a chain saw to menace a police officer
Relatives hanging around too long after Thanksgiving dinner? Throw on MOTEL HELL — that’ll clear the room.

And remember Farmer Vincent’s grandmother’s slogan. Meat’s meat, and man’s gotta eat!

Maybe you like your meat with a little less processing and preservatives. For that, I present to you a chafing dish of The Hills Have Eyes. I know the remake is damn good, probably better than the original, but I’m going to stick with Wes Craven’s version. A retired cop takes his family on a trip from Chicago to smack in the middle of hell when their Winnebago breaks down in the desert. Little do they know that a deranged family of mutant cannibals lives in them thar hills.

A modern take on the Sawney Bean clan of cannibals in Scotland, The Hills Have Eyes is most notable for bringing Dee Wallace into the horror world, as well as the man with the most iconic face of all time, Michael Berryman. One by one, old man Jupiter and his demented offspring murder the members of the family, one bird, one dog, and almost a baby! It’s brutal stuff and one of those “dude, did you ever hear of…” movies back in the day.

photo of Michael Berryman from The Hills Have Eyes
Would you let this man carve your turkey?

The favorite line in my equally demented house is when one of the cannibals turns to the young sister and declares, “Baby’s fat. You’re fat. Fat and juicy.” This same troglodyte bites the head off a pet bird and drinks its blood, which is pretty close to a Thanksgiving meal, right?

I guess I can’t write this column without mentioning Cannibal Holocaust, a movie that was so forbidden that video stores wouldn’t even carry it. It’s the timeless story of an anthropologist and his team trekking to the jungle to find a lost film crew. Along the way, they encounter a terrifying tribe of cannibals. But since we’ve had so much human flesh with our previous two choices, Cannibal Holocaust mixes in turtles, snakes and pigs, all dispatched for reals on film. It’s a tough watch, especially for fans of Gamera. Even hardcore horror fans find it difficult to sit through this one. For those that make it, might I point you over to the bowl of Cannibal Ferox and The Green Inferno? At least The Green Inferno has the beautiful Lorenza Izzo (Mrs. Eli Roth) to take our minds off the culinary horrors.

Now, maybe you’re not so much of a cook. You burn toast and your cereal is always soggy before you dip your spoon in. Have no fear, Microwave Massacre is here! Comedian Jackie Vernon stars in this low budget groaner about a henpecked man who murders his wife and spends the rest of the movie microwaving bits of her and eventually feeding her to his friends. I remember renting this when I was about thirteen and questioning everything I knew about movies, microwaves and life. This was Vernon’s last movie before passing on several yeas later. You may not know his name, but you know his voice as Frosty the Snowman (the Rankin-Bass cartoon us geezers grew up with). Happy birthday, indeed!

Making simple edible fare is what Microwave Massacre is all about. If you watch this one on Thanksgiving, make sure you’re several glasses deep in whisky. It’s a true WTF movie that has to be seen at least once. Too bad the producers didn’t come out with a companion cookbook. My mother would have bought it during her everything-tastes-better-in-the-microwave phase.

photo depicting a scene from Microwave Massacre, showing Jackie Vernon with some leftovers
That ain’t turkey in there.

Need something a little easier to prepare and less, shall we say, squeamish to consume? Why not go old school and have a block of that weird tofu they call Soylent Green? This is back when Charlton Heston was the king of scifi, also starring in Planet of the Apes and The Omega Man. Sure, Soylent Green is people, but it has a very neutral taste. It will take on the characteristics of any spice you add to it. And for you environmentalists, it’s good for the planet. Recycling people makes a lot of sense to me. And it can’t be more offensive than the McRib sandwich.

I’m going to close this out with the most obvious of all cannibal prime meat, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Old Leatherface and his family of fuckwits had a penchant for forbidden beef, but I must warn you. Judging by the ungoldly state of their home and, um, processing areas, it’s highly likely that you will die from a million kinds of bacterial diseases if you eat their vittles.

black and white photo of Leatherface from the Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Nothing funny here, just a straight-up terrifying photo of Leatherface.

Of all the cannibal selections out there, TCM is by far the best (and has some pretty damn good sequels). Hey, here’s a Thanksgiving dare. Why not wear the face of your turkey while you carve the beast? Leatherface would approve. As would the murderous turkey in ThanksKilling who wears a man’s face as an effective disguise, because no one seems to notice his plump turkey body.

So, no matter what your jam is, eat up this Thanksgiving. There is no better year than 2020 to drown our misery in food and booze.

In the words of the possessed turkey in ThanksKilling: “Gobble, gobble, motherfucker!”

Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal—he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. You can follow his madness at

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