Mother's Day (1980)

DVD Cover (Troma Entertainment)
Genres / Traits: Black Comedy, Horror, Horror Comedy, Mother's Day
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Charles Kaufman Charles Kaufman
Nancy Hendrickson Nancy Hendrickson
Deborah Luce Deborah Luce
Tiana Pierce Tiana Pierce
Frederick Coffin Frederick Coffin
Michael McCleery Michael McCleery

5.4 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: May 14, 2006
It's Mother's Day once again, and as such, I thought that it would be appropriate to point out this exploitation gem from the eighties. Written and directed by Charles Kaufman (the brother of Troma boss Lloyd Kaufman), this film tells the tale of an insane mother (Beatrice Pons), her "mentally-challenged" sons Ike (Frederick Coffin) and Addley (Michael McCleery), and the havoc that this clan causes for a trio of young ladies who wandered too far off the beaten path.

The three ladies are the nerdy Abbey (Nancy Hendrickson), the rich socialite Trina (Tiana Pierce), and the can't-find-a-decent-man Jackie (Deborah Luce). The trio met in college, where they quickly became best friends and always protected one another from whatever mishaps life would throw at them. After college, they ended up going their separate ways, but they still get together once a year to go on a small vacation and relive the good old days. This year, they've decided to go camping. They don't heed the warnings of the odd old man at the country store, and they set out to a place where most sane people would stay away from. They're eventually found by the two brothers, and we at home find out that their mother enjoys watching her boys rape and murder young women... and it's decided that this trio will be the next names on their long-running body count.

What we have here is an exploitation flick in the same vein as I Spit On Your Grave, but with a touch of humor thrown in to lighten the mood between the rape and violence. Notorious film critic Roger Ebert considered that movie to be "the worst movie ever made", a stance that I strongly disagree with. Not everyone shares my opinion on that, however, and Grave is one of those films that you'll either love or hate. If you happen to reside on the side that loved that movie, you'll definitely get a kick out of this one; if, however, you're one of those people who hated it, this is definitely not the movie for you.

I compare this movie to Grave, but it's not quite in the same league as that release; whereas Grave was all about rape, humiliation, revenge, and generally making the home audience squirm in their seats, Mother's Day never gets quite as raw or unnerving. Sure, there's two rape scenes and plenty of man-on-woman violence, but it never comes close to the extremes that Grave did. Some may find it perverse that I complain about the absence of this material, but when you consider that this is almost a carbon copy in terms of the storyline and events that take place, toning down the material is never a good thing.

This movie does have some comedy mixed in with the on-screen events, but it's more of a subtle black comedy than slapstick or toilet humor. Just because the film was released by Troma, a company well-known for its crude sense of humor, don't go in expecting fart and poop jokes to be the extent of the humor. I thought that this was an interesting side of the movie, as it's not often that you'll find a film with such brutal aspects (graphic rape and man-on-woman violence) that mixes in some comedy with the events.

Fans of exploitation fare such as the oft-mentioned I Spit On Your Grave or the countless other films that share the same themes will enjoy this one, even though there's not a lot to be found in terms of originality. The violence levels are toned down a bit, but it's still a pretty brutal film regardless. However, if you're not a fan of this genre of film or if you've never been exposed to it, don't put this one near the top of your to-see list; depending on which of those last statements best describes you, you'll either hate it or be able to find much better. 6/10.
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