Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Five Movies We've Covered That Use "Turkey" As An Insult

Nov 19, 2018

Holiday horror movies are nothing new. One could argue they're a staple of the genre. Christmas and Halloween have been covered to death – literally – and even lesser revered holidays like Thanksgiving have gotten their fair share of screen time. From the greats like Blood Rage to the schlock-filled wastes of celluloid like Thankskilling, horror fans have loaded up on a cornucopia of Thanksgiving horrors. And what's a day like Thanksgiving without turkey?

According to, the use of the word turkey as an insult is used against “a person or thing of little appeal; a dud; a loser”. It first appeared in 1927, referring to plays or shows that were colossal failures. It was later adapted for use against people deemed “stupid or ineffectual”, which was the reputation of the bird by that time, by 1951. The slang term picked up steam in the 1970's before falling out of favor some time later. Much like the fashion of the decade, the use of “turkey” seeped its way into the 1980's before dying out before its end. The following five films we've covered previously contain the insult in all its cheesy glory.

21 - Terrorvision (1988)

There's no better place to begin than Ted Nicolau's 1988 vessel TerrorVision. An experiment in hyper-colored optical vomit, this horror-comedy about a space monster who comes to earth via television satellite signal might sound ridiculous but it's a lot of fun. It also boasts an impressive genre cast including Mary Woronov, Gerrit Graham and Diane Franklin. Our instance of “turkey” as an insult comes from secondary character O.D. Riley, the walking definition of movie metalhead portrayed by Jon Gries, also of Fright Night and Napoleon Dynamite. The third act of the film kicks into kids comedy territory when O.D., his girlfriend Suzy and her younger brother Sherman decide to teach the space monster everyday earthly activities like eating food, listening to music – which is “almost as important as food” – and watching television. While partaking in the latter, the monster reels in horror at the commercials, to which O.D. proclaims, “hey, hold your horses, turkey!”

6 - He Knows You're Alone (1980)

The next example is the oft-forgotten early slasher He Knows You're Alone from 1980. The film was the directorial debut of Armand Mastrioanni, who also worked on episodes of Tales From The Darkside and Friday The 13th: The Series, and was made to capitalize on the growing craze of Halloween clones. This time, the killer stalks and murders brides close to their wedding day. This deep cut has a few known actors within its ranks: Paul Gleason of The Breakfast Club, James Rebhorn of Independence Day, and the acting debut of Tom Hanks in a minor role. There's a good bit of leftover 70's fashion in the movie, which is always entertaining to see. The film's protagonist, Amy, runs into an old fling, Marvin, while exiting a drugstore After revealing he knew her whereabouts after speaking to Amy's younger sister, Marvin refers to her current fiance in bird terms: “She told me that turkey left town for his bachelor party.”

23 - My Bloody Valentine (1981)

While “turkey” usually denotes Thanksgiving as its designated holiday, the 1981 Valentine's Day horror classic My Bloody Valentine also contains the insult within its dialogue. Coming from deep within the annals of Canada, George Mihalka's exploration of a small mining town with longtime lore about a murderous mine worker who exacts his revenge on February 14th brings some great gore, an interesting love triangle sub-plot, as well as some amazingly thick Canadian accents. During a late-night hangout session in an auto wrecking yard, some of the mine workers are cooking microwave dinners on the engine block of a functioning car. While they murmur about how hungry they are, the mustached Hollis proclaims, “turkey for the turkey.”

25 - Iced (1988)

When Thanksgiving comes, snow is soon to follow, and perhaps it would be time to hit the ski slopes. 1988's Iced delves into a unique trope of a ski suit-clad killer stalking and murdering former friends on a ski trip in a remote cabin. It's not very good, but it does star Lisa Loring as Jeanette, who many readers would know as the original Wednesday Addams. During a scene where two of the main characters, Cory and Eddie, reminisce about their friend who died in a skiing accident four years prior to their trip. As the killer watches from the trees, they head back to the cabin with Cory yelling “wait up, you turkey!”

11 - Home Sweet Home (1981)

Finally, an article about turkey wouldn't be complete without a Thanksgiving-based slasher movie. Perhaps one starring Body By Jake himself, Jake Steinfeld. Home Sweet Home – also released as Slasher In The House – finds Steinfeld playing an escaped mental patient named Jay Jones, who proceeds to go on a PCP-fueled killing spree and targets a large family at their home on Thanksgiving Day. The movie also marks the acting debut of Vinessa Shaw, who more famously portrayed Allison in the 1993 family-friendly Halloween flick Hocus Pocus. During a less than thrilling chase sequence where The Mistake, a mime who plays guitar through a backpack amplifier and also does magic tricks, is being pursued by hothead Scott. During the chase, Mistake turns to Scott and yells, “catch me if you can, turkey!”

Perhaps these five films would make an unorthodox, but still entertaining, movie marathon this Thanksgiving. Maybe a lengthy pre-game for Shudder's Dinners Of Death marathon featuring the legendary Joe Bob Briggs. Whatever you watch this Turkey Day, just remember: that's not cranberry sauce.