Horror for Thanksgiving: 5 cannibal families to sink your teeth into


Horror films aren’t the first thing you think of for the Thanksgiving holiday. It is a day for spending time with your family and enjoying a good meal. For some there’s a huge turkey dinner, for others there’s tofurkey. But what about the cannibal families who have more eccentric tastes?

Horror films for Thanksgiving are not exactly commonplace. However, there are still plenty of great movies that capture the holiday spirit. Because let’s face it, the season is all about families and food.

This lead me to think of some of the infamous families in horror. One thing many of them have in common: they like to eat other people. So, here is a list celebrating the top 5 cannibal families in the genre.

Horror for Thanksgiving – The Top 5 Cannibal Families

1. The Sawyers – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Horror – The Sawyers – Courtesy of Vortex

Tobe Hooper created what is arguably the most famous cannibal family in horror with his film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This is the most obvious choice, so of course the Sawyers had to be first on the list. Everyone knows them and their affinity for eating people.

There is Drayton, Nubbins (aka The Hitchhiker), Grandpa, and Bubba (aka Leatherface). Together they make a deranged homicidal cannibal family that horror lovers can’t get enough of. Fans adore this insane, flesh eating family so much that TCM became a franchise featuring multiple sequels, reboots, and prequels.

Gunnar Hansen was the breakout star of this legendary production with his portrayal of the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface. While all of the films are entertaining in their own way, it is impossible to ignore the perfection of the original. This is a quintessential slasher every horror fan must watch.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre can be found on Shudder and other streaming services.

2. The Parkers – We Are What We Are (2013)

Horror – The Parkers – Courtesy of © 2013 Entertainment One Films US

What if a pioneer family experienced starvation that forced them into cannibalism, but they continued to eat human flesh through the generations? That is what happens in this film, created by writer/director Jim Mickle and co-writer Nick Damici. We Are What We Are is a very dark, emotionally driven film that you could probably get even your non-horror loving family members to watch.

While I love the drama of the plot, including showing the young daughters as they struggle to decide if they will follow in their parents’ footsteps or not, I especially love the medical side of the film. This is the only cannibal film that comes to mind that actually dives into the negative physical effects eating people can have on the body. Add in the tragically conflicted Parker daughters, their innocent little brother, and their deranged father and you get one compelling film.

You can watch We Are What We Are on Amazon Prime and other streaming services.

3. The Odets – Wrong Turn (2003)

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A group of twenty-somethings go down the wrong road in the woods of West Virginia and find themselves in a battle for survival against three backwoods, inbred mutant brothers.  These brothers will stop at nothing to make a meal out of these kids. Wrong Turn is one of the more star-studded films on the list with Eliza Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage).

Even though it’s hard not to root for Dushku’s character, the inbred family is definitely entertaining to watch. The Odets may not have the same street cred the Sawyers do, but they are popular enough to have their own multiple sequels and prequels. I personally am not a fan of any of those sequels or prequels, but this first film is a fun watch.

 Wrong Turn is available on Amazon Prime and other streaming services.

4. Justine & Alexia – Raw (2016)

Horror – Justine and Alexa – Courtesy of Wild Bunch

This French film, written and directed by Julia Ducournau, follows young vegetarian Justine as she enters veterinary school. A hazing ritual forces her to eat meat, which leads to her discovering she enjoys the taste of people and learning her sister Alexia has a similar taste in food.

The plot is a compelling coming-of-age story that uses Justine’s newfound taste for human flesh as a way to emphasize her transformation into a woman. Raw also has a fascinating juxtaposition between how the two sisters deal with their cannibalism.

This is another film that could be appealing to your non-horror fan family members. Although, there are a few pretty good gross-out moments (but not the kind that would make you puke like some of the festival hype might lead you to believe). At the very least you can brag to your family how cultured you are by watching a foreign film, even if it’s one about a family who enjoy eating people.

You can view Raw on Netflix and other streaming services.

5. The Tutmans – Blood Diner (1987)

Horror – The Tutmans – Courtesy of PMS Filmworks,Vestron Pictures

This is by far the most ridiculous of the films on this list but it will please fans of B-horror flicks. Blood Diner follows the Tutman brothers as they serve human meat in their diner (unbeknownst to their patrons) while also collecting female body parts to create a new body for an ancient goddess.

This film by director Jackie Kong is an unofficial sequel to Blood Feast (1963), but it is far more ludicrous. This is the kind of movie you watch if you want to shock your family members. The first time I saw this film I went on to watch it three more times within a month just so I could make other people watch it with me.

Blood Diner is campy, hilarious, has delightfully bad acting, and is just as gory as you would hope it would be. The one downside of Blood Diner is that it’s incredibly hard to track down. It isn’t streaming anywhere right now, but if you’re willing to take a risk you can buy the Blu-ray.

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You can purchase Blood Diner on Blu-ray on Amazon. We wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, and we hope you won’t be on the menu this year.

Which cannibal family is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below.