In 2007, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez joined forces for the retro throwback packaged as Grindhouse, a double feature (Tarantino directed motor-thriller Death Proof, Rodriguez did the zombie freakshow Planet Terror) paying homage to the good old days of the ’70s, when high-grade sleaze filled dingy cinemas. To really immerse audiences in the environment of these temples to filth, the Grindhouse presentation was broken up by a handful of trailers for nonexistent movies covering a wider spectrum of exploitation film — one of which has improbably reentered the news.
Deadline has broken the news that Eli Roth will expand his merry bloodbath Thanksgiving from two and a half minutes to full length, with Grey’s Anatomy alum Patrick Dempsey (the one-time Doctor McDreamy) a surprise in the lead role. Roth will direct, working from a script by Jeff Rendell, cowriter of the original short — and bit player, decapitated while wearing a turkey costume — more than fifteen years ago. As the instantly immortal tagline goes, “White meat. Dark meat. All will be carved.”
The short spoofed such holiday-themed stab-a-thons as Black Christmas, My Bloody Valentine, Halloween, and April Fool’s Day, joining the citizens of Plymouth, Massachusetts as they throw their annual parade saluting the town’s pilgrim heritage. But a psychopathic killer in the customary buckled hat and shoes has grisly plans of his own, going on a homicidal spree that most memorably involves a bouncing cheerleader who does a trampoline-assisted split right down onto his knife.
Thanksgiving will mark the third of the fake Grindhouse sideshows to mutate into its own beast, following the Danny Trejo vehicle Machete and the shoestring-budgeted Rutger Hauer showcase Hobo With a Shotgun. That still leaves two others, tantalizing concepts both: Edgar Wright‘s video nasty parody Don’t, and Rob Zombie‘s Nic Cage-starring Nazi send-up Werewolf Women of the S.S. Genre enthusiast that he is, it’s still hard to imagine Wright spending his industry cachet and finite time on this Earth working on such a deliberately Z-grade project, but schlockmeister Zombie could very well keep the streak going. (And Cage is, to put it gently, very gettable these days.)
For Roth and Rendell, however, translating their mini-monstrosity to feature size could present some unique challenges; in 2007, Roth talked about how he was only able to get some of his most graphic footage by the MPAA without an NC-17 rating by squeezing it into montage, rather than having it all spread out. Given room to breathe, his playful sense of extremity might seem more obscene. Here’s hoping he won’t be made to tone it down.
Published 21 Feb 2023
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