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Eli Roth wants Thanksgiving to have the same generational impact as Wes Craven's Scream.
"We had such high standards and high expectations for the movie. We wanted to make a great modern slasher film. I remember the first time I saw Scream in the theatre and you just go, ‘Holy shit. That was amazing!’ That’s what I want, to do that for the next generation," Roth tells SFX magazine in the new issue, which features David Tennant as Doctor Who on the cover.
The film, which sees a serial killer in a pilgrim hat and Uncanny Valley face mask take Thanksgiving-themed revenge on the town of Plymouth, is based on a fake trailer that Roth made some 16 years ago. Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's 2007 movie Grindhouse features five fake trailers directed by Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright, Jason Eisener, and Roth.
The fake trailer starred Jeff Rendell as the killer, with Jordan Ladd, Jay Hernandez, and Roth as the victims, and Michael Biehn as the sheriff. In the full-length feature, Patrick Dempsey plays the sheriff, while the killer – officially dubbed John Carver – primarily stalks a group of teenagers. The teens in question include Addison Rae, Milo Manheim, Jalen Thomas Brooks, and Nell Verlaque.
"The whole point of Grindhouse was that it was a love letter to exploitation movies. The trailer was a joke, it didn’t have to make sense. Nothing had to add up. So you’re just getting the best parts of an exploitation movie. It’s just kill after kill after kill after kill and it’s ridiculous and absurd. You can’t stretch that out to 90 minutes and expect it to have the same impact, or expect people to take it seriously. We didn’t want to make a joke movie. We wanted to make a real movie."
Rendell wrote the screenplay for the film, from a story developed by him and Roth. Roth told Rolling Stone that the original story, before Grindhouse, involved "a kid who was in love with a turkey, and then his father killed it, and then he killed his family and went away to a mental institution and came back and took revenge on the town." The plot was all but scrapped when Roth found out he would only have to shoot the kills for a brief trailer. The feature-length film sees John Carver descend upon a town in Massachusetts to enact revenge – but his back story hasn't been revealed just yet.
Thanksgiving is set to hit theaters on November 17, 2023.
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The above is just a snippet from our interview with Roth, which you can see more of from in the latest issue of SFX Magazine, which features Doctor Who on the cover and is available on newsstands from Wednesday, November 1. Keep up to date with all things SFX by signing up to the newsletter, which sends all the latest exclusives straight to your inbox.