CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
Subscribe
Rainbeau Creative
HAL 9000

Dissecting the Music of Eli Roth’s THANKSGIVING

Written by Christopher Beaubien • May 05, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

Skewer Your Funny Bone: Recommended for Strong Stomachs

thanksgiving

The short film Thanksgiving, posing as a faux trailer, was one of the highlights of Grindhouse, the Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino collaboration. Those two-and-a-half minutes (a pound?) are the best of Eli Roth’s resume. It is both a loving homage to John Carpenter’s definitive film Halloween (1978) and an inspired parody of those awful 80s slasher-rip-off-flicks (and bad taste, in general) that is far elevated from Roth’s turgid Hostel films. A.O. Scott of The New York Times wrote, “In any case be sure not to miss the trailer for Thanksgiving — not for the squeamish or the humor impaired, and not that you’d necessarily want to see the movie, if it existed.”

I remember the first time seeing it in theaters, the last act of abomination by the Evil Pilgrim on the roasted turkey had me laughing so hard throughout the main title sequence of Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the best of both feature films. In the Kurt Volk designed collectible hardcover book Grindhouse, which chronicles behind its scenes, its director Eli Roth wrote a fascinating article about making Thanksgiving in Prague after dressing it up as Small Town, America. The read is explores technical as well as the drama creating these sick scenes (God love ’em!) to round out Roth’s gut-busting observations. It’s a mixed blessing Thanksgiving won’t be getting the Grindhouse feature treatment, we already have the best parts. Why let a lame narrative ruin that?

My only grip about this really guilty pleasure is this: What is the deal with not listing John Harrison as the composer of Thanksgiving in the end credits of the cheerfully sleazy three-hour double-feature? The majority of the music is lifted right off the soundtrack of George A. Romero’s immortal five-part Creepshow (1982), which was based on a Tales From the Crypt-like graphic novel written by Stephen King as the film’s screenplay.

creepshowIn Thanksgiving, you’ll hear excerpts from Father’s Day, a Creepshow episode where Aunt Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors, A Wedding, 1978) is strangled to death by her cake-obsessed zombie-dad (John Amplas, Martin, 1977), which stands in as the Evil Pilgrim’s murderous theme song. Then the trampoline scene (Holy-NC-17-MPAA!) is accompanied by the music used for Something to Tide You Over when a jealous husband (Leslie Neilsen, The Naked Gun Series) watches, from the comfort of his living room, his wife and her lover drowning (Eat you heart out Peter Greenaway). Lastly, the sickly build-up to the near-thirty-year-old-depicting-a-teen (Eli Roth) head scene is from the They’re Creeping Up On You segment staring E.G. Marshall (Double Indemnity, 1944) as a corrupt, cockroach-phobic CEO. All are compositions by John Harrison.

The only original pieces of music by Nathan Barr, who was credited, are what follow: First, that menacing music at the beginning of trailer — following the knife-wielding maniac Halloween-style behind the buck-toothed screaming Grandma. And last, that perfectly drippy, romantic, synthesized 80s-like score playing over “Cool it, Judy! You’re safe. Bobby’s here…”

It seems strange, but this is the way credits work most of the time where original music versus licensed music is concerned. It’s not a matter of giving credit to the composer with the most music in the trailer, but rather giving credit for the most-recent music written specifically for that fake trailer.

CREEPSHOW (1982) Trailer

GRINDHOUSE (2007) Trailer 1

GRINDHOUSE (2007) Trailer 2

© 2008 – 2017, CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Chris Beaubien. All rights reserved.