Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Netflix-a-thon (#11) MOTHER'S DAY (1980)

(In light of a coming-soon remake from the director of Repo: The Genetic Opera- a movie I could not stand, sorry fans and some friends of mine- I took a look at the original 1980 horror movie, in part produced by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz of Troma before it was Troma.  Worthy of a remake?  Let's see... PS: If you need further guidance with this movie, I highly recommend the review by the Cinema Snob right here.... oh, and ye be Spoilers ahead for those who care).

Not to be confused with the writer of Adaptation. (or his brother Donald), Charles Kaufman's 1980 film Mother's Day is a weird, curious lot: a movie that has equal amounts of awesome horror-comic violence (whether intentional or not, I'm counting it as comedy as I laughed my head off quite a bit at the timing and absurdity on display) and really stupid or lame attempts to shock the audience, or to make an audience feel the logic.  The premise has the standard quota for an 70s/80's slasher/hick-rape-kill movie: three women, all coming together to reuinite as being former college roommates, are off to spend a weekend in the woods to do some fishing, smoke some doobs, and have some skinny dipping and marshmallows and other fun stuff.

But there's another wily bunch of hick 70-IQ morons in the woods who rape and kill anything they come across breathing, and this time with a doting and kind of super-possessive Mother with a neckbrace who often gets victims by posing as the perennial sweet-little-old-lady.  That's at the start of the movie, in a scene that sets up the tone of the movie, at least what is thought of at first as the movie, and it looks pretty cool for a horror flick: a decent, gruesome twist (the two we thing are predators turn out in an instant to be prey), and some intense carnage and violence.  I guess if there's anything worth doing as a horror flick, even if with no name actors and a measly budget, it's worth trying to do right.

And Kaufman to his credit does have some skill as a director... what exactly I can't pinpoint as a movie like Mother's Day is hard to call art.  In fact it might be hard to defend it.  If you're a particular kind of horror fan who just loves his/her kills sloppy and bloody, or with some creativity like with certain ways to cut off oxygen to the brain, then it's just dandy work.  The actors at least are all in to it, despite the cheesy shit the director has them do.  For example, Ike and Addley, the two brothers (the one with the blonde hair and super-bad teeth, maybe it's Ike), instead of going to work at their female victims, it's off to exercise time!  Yup, complete with montage editing, if not the Rocky music, the Mother takes notes, has them run laps and push-ups and stabbing potato sacks and rustling through bushes.  It's so goofy and dumb I almost admire it.  Almost.

A part of me does have a disliking for this movie quite a bit, just for how off Charles Kaufman can get with his   ideas and logic.  One of the girls is seeming to get away, and comes across a police car - SURPRISE, it turns out to be one of the hicks in police garb.  What the hell is that?  I could buy this if there was some back-up or lead-up, such as the way The Texas Chainsaw Massacre set up that at least one or two of the members in the family led regular jobs and tried to fit in to society to get their sick doings on in the midnight hours.  But there isn't any context for it, and it's barely mentioned again anyway so it just comes off as a cheap stunt to try and throw off the audience, and it's obvious to start with anyway.  Another matter is the last shot of the movie, which is so WTF that I won't go into it here as I am still not sure what I saw.

Other things like the limited characterization of the girls can mostly be excused (oh they're so pranksterish, sneaking up on one another with knives, playing dead, pushing each other naked into the water all wet and... alright, calm down brain).  Maybe it's perspective; if I had to inform a fellow horror movie fan about a flick where it's female power vs. hicks in the woods, I would put this in their hands long (or always) before a true disaster like I Spit on Your Grave.  But is it worth seeing?  I don't know.  It's not something I easily recommend, unless if one is with a bunch of buds with Buds or the 'other' cigarette Buds and want to have a good time.  Certainly there is some genuine tension as the girls try to break out of the house when they're tied up- if, again, needing the suspension of disbelief about how to exit from the house at times- and when Kaufman really is able to he does get some big laughs out of the ridiculous nature of these assholes.  Especially in the climactic battle as they stand little chance against chicks from the city turning all Rambo on their asses.

I also have to wonder how the remake will fare with all of this.  It's not brain surgery, and perhaps it could be improved upon (whether it's by the douche-bag that made Repo: The Genetic Opera I can't say), but among the lot of Troma movies, especially the early-era when Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz were just associate producers, it's not always intentionally bad.  If only it could have totally made up its mind what it wanted to be and stick with it then it could have been one of the greats.  As it stands its a fun but very mixed and flawed bag of sick backwoods malarkey with hammy acting and copious gore.

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