We've had horror movies commemorating just about every holiday. We have New Year's Evil, My Bloody Valentine, Black Christmas, Leprechaun, Uncle Sam, April Fool's Day, and Easter Bunny Kill! Kill!. I'm still waiting for a good Chanukah horror movie, but I just may have to make that one myself. These movies are fun in a goofy, niche sort of way, so when I watched today's movie, I was expecting it to be over-the-top and fun. After all, the movie is written and directed by Charles Kaufman, the brother of Troma Entertainment co-founder Lloyd Kaufman. That's a recipe for goofyness, right? Heck, maybe even the Toxic Avenger will show up! How wrong I was.
Mother's Day is a 1980 exploitation horror film starring Nancy Hendrickson as Abbey, Deborah Luce as Jackie, and Tiana Pierce as Trina. The three former college roommates reunite on a camping trip in rural New Jersey. The reminisce about old times, including one night when they embarrassed a jock that was trying to sleep with one of them. Their good times are interrupted when two hillbillies named Ike and Addley kidnap them and bring them to their house. The hillbillies live with their mentally unstable and demanding mother (Rose Ross, Sgt. Bilko, Car 54, Where Are You?). They take one of the girls and go through a strange ritual, acting out various romantic scenarios while Mother watches. Soon, the games are over and the girl is beaten and raped. The next day we see the family in their bizarre daily life, eating sugary food, yelling, fighting, debating punk versus disco, and all sorts of other insanity. Mother keeps the boys in order, telling them that her sister Queenie, who lives out in the wild, will come and get them. When one of the girls is killed, the other two escape and plan their revenge. Will they be able to stop the deranged family and does Queenie really exist?
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't like torture movies. Mother's Day borders the line of torture movies as we don't see the customary violence and gore of today's “torture porn”. That's not to say there aren't scenes of violence because there are plenty. There are also scenes of rape, which made me incredibly uncomfortable. The movie moves slowly at times and seems to get lost once the girls are captured. The revenge towards the end is cathartic, but it feels a bit too rushed. The ending comes out of left field and is eye-roll worthy in it's forehead-slapping stupidity. Troma films tend to either be over-the-top funny or over-the-top violent/gross/insane. Mother's Day can't decide which way to go and settles for both, but succeeding with neither. I found myself constantly checking the run-time, hoping the movie was coming to an end.
This movie is a hodge-podge of ideas coming from much better films. It's obvious that Mother's Day takes many of it's ideas from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Last House On The Left. Mother's Day had the chance to expand upon the initial themes from those movies and make something different, but it just goes through the motions. I will say that the movie does show a bit of creativity when the hillbillies act out the romantic scenarios with one of the girls. It truly showed their derangement and was very unsettling because you knew what was going to happen. Unfortunately, it was a missed opportunity because the scenes are rushed. They could have been downright terrifying if they were paced properly. The acting in the movie is fine for what is required, but that's not saying much. I will say that Charles Kaufman does get some very good shots behind the director's chair. Hey, at least that's something.
I watched Mother's Day expecting something in the “so bad it's good” vein. Instead, I got a “so bad it's bad” horror movie. Despite having a cult following, I did not find the movie enjoyable. Apparently, the film is supposed to be satire, though I didn't pick up even a trace of satirical material. The story is lifted from much better horror movies which makes me wonder why they even bothered to make this one. There is a lot of violence against women in the film which will make a lot of people uncomfortable, myself included. The revenge scenes are good, but I could have used more. If you're going to see a movie like this, you're better off with the better-known films like The Last House On The Left, The Hills Have Eyes, and I Spit On Your Grave. I wouldn't be quick to recommend those either, but they at least have stories. Troma should just stick with funny horror. It would make me a lot happier.