My younger brother picked up the box and asked to rent it; my mom refused, as a responsible parent should when presented with such an inquiry by a 9-year-old. I’m unsure what appealed to him: the disembodied head in a gift box or the recipient’s half-skull head? Whatever it was, it must’ve worked for a lot of people. A cult item ever since its small theatrical release, Mother’s Day now makes its Blu-ray debut.
The disc begins with a brief vintage preview of the film, presumably a TV spot. And while it’s nice to be forced to compare its shoddy shape to the clean transfer of the feature, the ad gives away the movie’s big surprise. Who the hell thought that was a good idea, then and now?
Sigh. Onto the movie: It’s about three former college roomies who meet up in Drexberg, N.J., for a girls-only weekend at, of all places, the Deep Barons Wilderness Area. In other words: a forest. This is just to get the ladies out in the open, so that — after about 20 minutes of padding, including a completely useless flashback to that one time they totally showed that one jerk frat guy up — a couple of hillbilly brothers can string them up in their sleeping bags and drag them to the disgusting home the sibs share with their elderly, screw-loose mama (Beatice Pons, TV’s Car 54, Where Are You?).
These two “boys” — Ike (Frederick Coffin) and Addley (Michael McCleery) — are vile young men stuck in a perpetual childhood, yet playing very adult games of torturing the women. Hey, they’re just carrying out Mother’s bidding. Roughly the second half of the film depicts the girls’ attempts at escape, sequences of which reminded of strongly of 1978’s notorious exploitation revenger, I Spit on Your Grave.
I’ll take issue with the Blu-ray’s cover banner of calling this one a “horror classic,” as even friends who love the genre as much as I do either haven’t seen it or found it unmemorable. I certainly didn’t love it, but there’s enough there to enjoy it, even taking into account director/co-writer Charles Kaufman’s many out-of-focus shots (which call more attention to themselves in high-def) and problematic story points (like the aforementioned flashback). The low-budget film being far from polished, however, actually helps sell Ike and Addley as repugnant beings who reside on the lowest rung of society’s worthiness ladder.
Don’t tell Hostel director Eli Roth of my mixed feelings. On an entertaining talking-head extra, he waxes orgasmic over it being his all-time favorite horror film. Not only does he hold it in as high regard as George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but sees a lot of social and political commentary at work. He almost convinced me.
Kaufman also narrates 10 minutes of Super 8 effects tests — including the Drano cocktail — that are in remarkable shape for their age. And he sits down at Comic-Con for a brief conversation with Darren Lynn Bousman, who directed the 2010 remake starring Rebecca De Mornay. The movies are so different that, except for a few character names, I wouldn’t call the new one a remake at all; Bousman refers to it as more of “a companion piece.”
What he doesn’t dare suggest is that his film is the superior one. But it is. —Rod Lott