It’s that time of year again, folks. Time to sit down to a nice family dinner—for about five minutes before your already drunk uncle goes off on a really racist rant, or your parents start comparing your success with that of your siblings. Whatever dysfunctional Thanksgiving traditions you have, it’s time to embrace them. Because, hey, it could be worse.
That’s why we’re taking a look at some of the most messed up dinner scenes in horror movies. You think your Thanksgiving feast is rough? Try being the guest/entrée at a cannibalistic farmhouse or hosting a dinner for a bunch of zombies.
Those are the sorts of shenanigans that horror movies pit their stars against when they’re at their best and weirdest.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
My feelings on The Dream Child are no secret. It’s my least favorite of the main franchise. But the deaths are so weird and bizarre, and Greta’s character is a highlight because it is the weirdest and the most bizarre. Her insecurities stem from her abusive mother who wants her to be a model and micromanages her life to get her to that point. There’s definitely a hint of an eating disorder there, or at least a fear that whatever she tries to put in her body, her mother will try and force out. So naturally Freddy decides to kill Greta by force feeding her to death, leading her to choke right in front of her mother and all of her snobby friends.
Waxwork is a great, campy little movie that had already won me over by the time it even got around to introducing Dracula. But the fact that Dracula is introduced with—of all things—a Texas Chainsaw Massacre style dinner scene makes it all the better. Dracula has a whole family of aristocratic vampires surrounding him this time out and asks his lovely guest to join him for a feast of raw meat with a special sauce. Which is blood. Of course it’s blood.
Easily one of the most memorable dinner scenes in horror, yet somehow also one of the most intimate, is the scene in Hannibal in which the good Dr. Lecter feeds Ray Liotta his own brains while a drugged Clarice can only sit there and watch. It’s an uncomfortable scene, but it has a dark sense of humor at the same time, which is a quality that the film possesses as a whole.
You’re Next features a brilliant dinner scene that might as well be Thanksgiving at any home in America. The dinner scene is uncomfortable, everyone is on edge, and there’s always that new person who is the most uncomfortable. Obviously, things get even worse after this scene but it’s probably the most important one in the movie. Not only does it establish the characters, it cements those family relationships that wind up defining the whole film.
It may be nothing compared to all the carnage this movie delivers, especially in the last act, but the dinner scene has always been especially uncomfortable for me. It’s gory, it’s just gross. And Peter Jackson went out of his way to make it as gross as he possibly could, from the pacing to the acting to the cinematography.
We might not generally think of it as a dinner scene, but it’s probably the most infamous dinner sequence in horror. Everyone sits down, nobody expects what’s coming, and all of a sudden a creature pops out of John Hurt’s chest. It’s iconic. It’s so perfectly tense, such a perfectly executed scene. And it all works because it starts off so normal.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Rocky Horror Picture Show actually has a Thanksgiving dinner, more or less. It’s a bit of a bait and switch, though, because everyone sits down to turkey but winds up eating Meat Loaf. It’s so awkward, so uncomfortable and so funny because of that. With all of its feigned normalcy, it might actually be the weirdest scene in one of the weirdest movies ever made.
The dinner scene in Beetlejuice is brilliant. Everyone remembers the beginning of it, but it’s the whole scene that’s always stood out to me. You start off with the fun, goofy dance number and that’s great. But that scene builds so perfectly. It gets creepier and weirder with each passing second until, by the end of it, it’s an honest-to-goodness horror movie scene.
A scene so perfect that every new incarnation of the story has had some new version of it, save for the remake. This scene is simply pure insanity. Shooting this sequence resulted in a straight 24-hour day. You could tell that everyone was just gone by this point. It’s simple a portrait of madness projected on the screen. From the weird close-ups of Sally’s eye, to Leatherface dressing up, to the family’s bickering. This has to be the most memorable dinner scene in horror history.