Serial Mom (1994)
By: Devon B. on May 24, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Reel (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 4:3. English DD 2.0. English FTHI Subtitles. 89 minutes
The Movie
Director: John Waters
Starring: Kathleen Turner, Sam Watterson, Ricki Lake, Matthew Lillard, and Suzanne Somers
Screenplay: John Waters
Country: USA
Serial Mom is the story of a picture perfect, if slightly uptight, mom, played brilliantly by Kathleen Turner. Turner is very protective of her family, despite their flaws. Her son is obsessed with horror movies and gore, and her daughter, played by Ricki Lake, develops crushes on the wrong people. Turner wants nothing to disrupt her paradigm of the perfect family, and is quite willing to kill to ensure that nothing does.

Like an episode of Leave It To Beaver where June Cleaver has gone psycho, this is still one of Waters' more restrained efforts. I find Waters even more subversive and funny when he's in this mode. His satire gets sharper when his films are gentler, like the genius capital punishment sermon in this film, and his stories more focused. Serial Mom is one of his best, with the kitschy saccharine nearly dripping off the sets.

Matthew Lillard, perhaps preparing for Scream, plays the horror-obsessed son. I remember when I first saw Serial Mom, I was very jealous that his character had access to the then super rare Blood Feast and the not quite so rare but still unseen by me Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. In a sad twist, the other rare film (at that time) featured was a clip of the Chesty Morgan terrible sexploitation film, Double Agent 73. I not only knew what that film was, I had seen it.
Serial Mom is presented full frame in a grainy, speckled print. I don't think the film has been remastered. The image is clear enough to watch, but the splotches and specks are distracting. There was also a very bad drop out glitch. The colours are a bit murky, and the whole things look slightly better than VHS quality.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby 2.0. The dialogue is clear, and the sound is well mixed, as it should be from a Hollywood film. The sound is not impressive, but better than the video transfer.
Extra Features
The Verdict
Serial Mom's celebrity worship aspect is even more relevant today thanks to reality TV, so Waters' managed to make a film that has become MORE pertinent as time passed. Perhaps not a good thing for society as a whole, but it does make Serial Mom seem fresh despite being over a decade old. The film itself is a five out of five, but this DVD leaves a LOT to be desired…like the commentary by John Waters available on the region 1 release.
Movie Score
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