Mother's Day (1980)
By: Devon B. on October 13, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Troma (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 90 minutes
The Movie
Director: Charles Kaufman Starring: Nancy Hendrickson, Deborah Luce, Tiana Pierce, Holden McQuire, Billy Ray McQuire
Screenplay: Charles Kaufman, Warren Leight Music: Phil Gallo, Clem Vicari Jr.
Tagline: If you go down to the woods today.
Country: USA
Mother's Day is a Troma family affair, directed and co-written by Charles Kaufman, brother of Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger. A few Kaufmans can also be spotted within the film.

The Mother's Day DVD begins with an intro by Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, where he points out the similarities between Mother's Day's pool party scene and Boogie Nights' pool party scene. Normally I wonder about these claims that bigger budget movies are getting inspiration from Troma, but this time, Lloyd Kaufman (President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger) may have a point.

Anyway, Mother's Day opens with a friggin' brilliant pastiche of self-help seminars, before introducing us to a clan of country folk who've gone very, very awry. The main plot revolves around three female college friends who reunite every year for a weekend retreat. When they go camping in the area near the kooky hicks, they get abducted. The women are used as part of a training session for the family, to help keep their kidnapping skills honed, and then are subjected to rape and torture. The women escape, and decide that revenge is a dish best served to inbreds.

I didn't like Mother's Day the first time I saw it, but at that point I also didn't get the satire. The villains are too cartoony to be taken seriously a lot of the time, which also often leaves the sadism too overblown to be disturbing. The gore is sparse, but there is one scene involving a rope that will have even the most jaded viewers wincing. Regardless of all that, the film is surprisingly high quality considering it's from Troma, with effective jabs given to pop culture, horror flicks, and the effects of advertising. It may not work as a straight horror film, but as a spoof, it's a lot o fun.

The film does drag a bit in flashbacks to college life, and I think all of the college prank stuff could've been cut. Interestingly, one of these scenes is soundtracked by "I Think We're Alone Now," which I would assume would cost more to clear than the entire budget of a Troma film today. Aside from the college days, the film moves by at a quick pace, and remains engaging.

Mother's Day displays quite a few prominent influences like I Spit on Your Grave, The Hills Have Eyes, and Deliverance, but as testament to Charles' achievement, his film has also gone on to influence several others. There were certainly elements of Mother's Day that were echoed in Razorback, Violent Shit II: Mother Hold My Hand, The Toxic Avenger (all right, so maybe that's not much of a surprise), Body Melt, possibly Boogie Nights, and The Simpsons, to name a few. Okay, that last one may be a coincidence, but The Simpsons certainly had a gag about cleaning your teeth with cola, and Mother's Day did that joke first.

For years I've considered this an inferior Troma film, but I'm really glad I gave it a second chance. It's quite competent, and a fun little movie.
Mother's Day is presented at 1.33:1. The original theatrical ratio was 1.85:1, but the film was shot with an open matte, so you don't lose any of the picture by having it presented full frame. The film has grain and dirt, and the image can be a bit hazy at times, but actually the film looks pretty sharp for a 26-year old Troma movie.
The audio is a two-channel mix, which is decent enough. Dialogue remains clear, and volume levels are all fine. It won't give your stereo much of a workout, but won't hinder your viewing process, either. There are some glitches in the commentary track.
Extra Features
A bit of an oddity for a Troma release, but most of the extras are relevant to the film in question, instead of heaps of random Troma extras. There's an interview with director Charles Kaufman that touts the film as an early horror comedy (he must've forgotten Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, or virtually any James Whale horror movie for that matter), and another that discusses growing up with Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger. Also included on the DVD is the Tromaville Café wraparound for Mother's Day, which is pretty bad; trailers for a few other Troma films, but oddly not one for Mother's Day; a commentary; and…can you guess? The one thing more reliable than Old Faithful – every Troma DVD must include THE RADIATION MARCH. The commentary features Charles and a crew member dubbed "Rex." They discuss the story's origins, which I've always found interesting, and point out budget issues. There're a few gaps in the speaking, but they never run too long. This is less tongue-in-cheek than one you'd hear from Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, but then, Charles is technically a different person.
The Verdict
This is a good DVD of a good movie, and it's very reasonably priced. I feel a bit silly waiting so long to give this film another go, but at least I've rectified that now.
Movie Score
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