Thanksgiving in the United States can be a tumultuous time. The turkey fritters are waiting to burn down the house. Black Friday shoppers crowd outside the big box stores like coupon-loving zombies. Covid is still a thing. But perhaps most terrifying of all… it means a long night with the family.
Even the sweetest, most well-adjusted families are prone to chaos at Thanksgiving dinner. Whether it’s the drunken uncle who decides to pass on the cranberry sauce means it’s also time to pass on his favorite Fox News talking point, or the sister-in-law who pays passive-aggressive compliments about the side dish you brought, Thanksgiving Thank you it’s about survival. family.
So here’s a list of six classic (or soon-to-be-classic) horror movies about surviving family horrors. Because we love them, but they could be death to us.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
We obviously have to start with the most infamous murderous family of all! After all, the Sawyers love a big family meal! Unfortunately for Sally Hardesty and her unwitting friends who stumble upon Sawyer’s house, that meal ends up being them.
What Happened To Baby Jane (1962)
sisters. We love to hate them and we hate to love them. No other movie captures the petty complaints and sheer insanity of being stuck in a house with your best friend and biggest rival like What Happened To Baby Jane. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford are at the height of their rivalry as closeted sisters and the results are corny and horrifying.
Going back to the suburbs can be hell. And sometimes her family home on her little housing court is literally built on top of her. Or in the case of Elf, in the graveyard of an old cemetery. And the dead are determined not to stay buried. Families are often haunted by old ghosts, but in this haunted house classic, they have to stick together or they won’t survive!
Almost every family has the creepy uncle. The skeezy who drinks too much, or makes the inappropriate joke that makes everyone uncomfortable. Well at Clive Barker’s hellraiser, the uncle simply unlocks the Lament Configuration, unleashes the Cenobites on his poor niece, and attempts to murder unsuspecting victims to absorb their flesh. Also, he makes some pretty gross incestuous comments. Fucking guys!
This one goes to the in-laws. Everyone knows the horror of going to visit your partner’s family for the first time. In SaltJordan Peele creates a terrifying nightmare of white, liberal, upper-class passive aggression (and aggressive aggression) and the ways it imposes white supremacist power structures on black Americans.
And finally, one for our chosen families. Not all of us can (or want to) be with blood relatives this time of year and so it’s important to celebrate the families we make ourselves. In titan, our murderous leading lady finds her true home and the kindred spirits she’s been longing for when she poses as Fire Chief Vincent’s son and moves into their world. It’s creepy, yes, but also moving. In each other they find the bond that both have been missing.
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