Director: Charles Kaufman
Cast: Rose Ross, Billy Ray McQuade, Holden McGuire, Nancy Hendrickson, Deborah Luce, Tiana Pierce
Troma and Anchor Bay / Region A / Unrated / 1.78:1 widescreen / Dolby TrueHD 5.1 / Spanish subtitles / 90 minutes / BUY FROM TLACULT
Disk Extras: Audio Commentary / Behind the Scenes / Trailer / Eli Roth on “Mother’s Day” / Interview with Darren Lynn Bousman and Charles Kaufman
I think I may have found a new movie to put on my Top 10 Favorite Horror Movies list. That list technically only exists in my noggin and it is ever-changing and evolving with only #1 staying the same; Tobe Hooper’s 1974 venerable classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There are many reasons I love that movie ranging from the nostalgic (it was the first horror movie I ever remember seeing) to the visceral (it terrifies me to this day). A clearly demented, backwoods, homicidal family full of interesting characters who you somehow end up rooting for while at the same time recoiling from their horror. That particular description is what hooked me while watching Charles Kaufman’s (yes, Lloyd’s brother) sleazy slasher, Mother’s Day. The overbearing, perverted “Mother”, hulking brute “Ike” and the rape-happy “Addley” — those are the lovable “bad guys” lurking in the Deep Barons.
Three ex-college roommates are getting together for their annual getaway and decide to go camping in the wilderness. That forest is home to a demented mother and her two psychotic sons who literally do anything she tells them. While the girls are sleeping in their bags around the campfire, Ike and Iddley cinch them up and carry them deeper into the woods to their decrepit old house. They quickly tie them up in an upstairs room (apparently a home gym?) and Mother decides to take one down to the front yard for a little Rape Theater where they enact scenes ultimately ending in the girl getting assaulted. The next morning the other two girls escape after rescuing their near-death friend and at the same time Mother is seemingly attacked by her feral sister “Queenie”, but is she real or is Mother jealous of the young girls and looking for attention? When their friend dies in the woods, the other two come back looking for bloody revenge.
Charles Kaufman, who is now retired from filmmaking and owns and operates a bakery in California, made one of the most entertaining, sleazy, gory and offensive horror movies I have ever seen. How I have never seen this movie before makes me question what I know about horror and exploitation films. Mother’s Day is over-the-top and sleazy in every way. Nudity, gore, sleaze and loads of campy, dark humor. If The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) was less terrifying but more bloody, campy and vulgar, it would be a very similar movie. The setting, characters and overall entertainment value begs comparison with the Hooper film. There is one scene that stand out to me as completely original; Mother has Ike and Addley work out and train to become better psycho killers. Stabbing and punching stuffed potato sacks, chopping up baby dolls, calisthenics, destroying melons made to look like heads. It’s just so fucking strange and creative to think that this family makes it a priority to be the best homicidal clan they can be.
The new Troma and Anchor Bay Blu-ray release is pretty impressive, mostly due to how the HD transfer looks. I’ve not seen previous VHS and DVD versions but this one looks incredibly sharp and vivid to be a 30-year-old movie that was made on a small budget. They didn’t scrub out all of the details and you can even see small amounts of film debris left in throughout to keep its integrity. Even though the packaging says that it’s Dolby 5.1 TrueHD sound, I couldn’t tell it from a mono soundtrack, but that’s not taking anything away from it. It still sounded clear and the levels were very good. Aside from the audio commentary, there are three other extras, one of which was very interesting for a geek like me. The behind the scenes supplement is actually a 10 minute series of 8mm special effects and actress screen tests and I always find that kind of thing interesting. There is also an 8 minute Comic Con conversation with Charles and Darren Lynn Bousman where Bousman talks about his Mother’s Day remake, and a 13 minute featurette with Eli Roth rambling about how he is obsessed with the film, ad nauseam.