Underground Film Journal

Posted In » Online Cinema

Feature Film Online: Mother’s Day

By Mike Everleth ⋅ December 20, 2009

Lloyd Kaufman‘s Troma Entertainment has posted a bunch of their classic horror films on Hulu, but the one to really watch is the demented 1980 flick Mother’s Day. That’s it embedded above, which you can view in its entirety. Alas, the film is littered with advertisements, but at least it’s shown in all it’s full gory glory. Even if you don’t end up watching the entire film, the opening five minutes are a must see with it’s goofy parody of the E.S.T movement that was popular back in the day and, more importantly, the ambitious decapitation stunt. [NOTE: Troma pulled their films from Hulu, so watch a YouTube bootleg above instead.]

Coincidentally, Mark Savage posted up an excellent analysis of the film just a few months ago on his Phantom of Pulp blog, so it’s been on my mind recently. Mother’s Day is another one of those films that came out at the height of the slasher movie craze, which I was hugely into as a teenager, that I didn’t quite “get” at the time. Oh, I enjoyed the film’s anarchic Troma spirit and brutality, but trying to fit the film into the slasher box doesn’t quite work.

Mother’s Day is directed and co-written by Charles Kaufman, who directs with a less manic hand than his brother Lloyd. The other writer on the project is Warren Leight, who went on to write light-hearted comedies such as The Night We Never Met (which he directed) and Garry Marshall’s Dear God, and now mostly writes for TV.

While I haven’t read too many analyses of Troma’s overall output — just individual praises like Savage’s — I don’t think I’ve seen much made of the political and social worldview of the studio’s self-produced films. (As opposed to the films they just distribute.) In Mother’s Day, there’s the E.S.T. parody that I mentioned above, but the film has lots of slams against ’80s notions of the “nuclear family” and the evils rampant consumerism.

Mom (Beatrice Pons) constantly heaps both praise and abuse on her boys (Frederick Coffin and Michael McCleery) for their homicidal tendencies. The boys are a couple of degenerate men-children who live in a house that looks more like a playpen littered with the detritus of a consumerist society. They’re a family that are totally committed to the notion of family, but have an utter disregard of and an insane hostility to society. In fact, they accumulate products for the sole purpose of torturing and murdering their fellow citizens.

There’s a remake of Mother’s Day in the works for 2010 that’s being directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, director of several entries in the Saw torture porn franchise. That’s appropriate since there’s a big torture component to the original Mother’s Day. I just hope that Bousman keeps in or, even better, updates, the social satire components. On IMDB, Charles Kaufman is being given a “Script by” credit, so hopefully that will happen.

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