Mother's Day

  • Reviewed by: Dr Adam Jahnke
  • Review Date: Oct 09, 2012
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Director

Charles Kaufman

Release Date(s)

1980 (September 4, 2012)

Studio(s)

Troma (Anchor Bay)

Review

For most people, Troma Entertainment is synonymous with The Toxic Avenger and Lloyd Kaufman. For nearly 40 years, Lloyd has led the fight for reel independence. Troma movies are not for everybody but their fans are among the most devoted and loyal in the world. As a proud Troma alumnus, I speak from experience.

Somewhat less well-known is the brief but inspired filmmaking career of Lloyd’s brother, Charles Kaufman. Charles directed only a handful of movies before leaving the business. Today he runs the Bread & Cie bakery in San Diego, well worth a visit next time you’re in the area. But to horror buffs, he will always be best known as the director of the cult favorite Mother’s Day.

At first glance, the movie appears to be your standard-issue holiday themed slasher flick. Three college roommates reunite for a camping trip, reminiscing about old times and skinny dipping. But the fun is short-lived as they’re soon abducted by Ike and Addley, a pair of backwoods brothers who live to serve their domineering mother. Once they’re brought to the house, the girls become unwilling costars in a series of bizarre scenarios staged for Mother’s entertainment.

Part of what makes Mother’s Day so memorable are the go-for-broke performances of the crazed family members, played by the pseudonymous Holden McGuire, Billy Ray McQuade and Rose Ross. There’s a real aura of insanity surrounding these three whenever they’re on screen. The script, by Charles Kaufman and future Tony Award-winning playwright Warren Leight, is a notch above the usual slasher fare. It’s smart, subversive and often genuinely funny. Topped off with one of the great out-of-nowhere finales, Mother’s Day is terrific fun for genre fans.

In an unusual arrangement, Troma has licensed Mother’s Day to Anchor Bay, distributor of the recent remake, for its Blu-ray debut. I was a bit surprised by how good the movie looks. It’s a sharp, clean transfer with vibrant colors and very minimal print damage. The audio isn’t exactly stunning but it gets the job done.

Extras include an amusing new video introduction by Charles Kaufman and a solid audio commentary by Charles and assistant art director Rex Piano. There’s about 10 minutes worth of interesting Super 8 behind-the-scenes footage with commentary by Charles. Eli Roth provides a typically enthusiastic interview praising the film. Less interesting is a segment featuring Charles and remake director Darren Lynn Bousman shot at Comic-Con 2010 in which Bousman can barely shut up long enough to allow Charles to get a word in edgewise. At least Lloyd pops up toward the end to provide a laugh or two. The original trailer rounds out the package.

Like most Troma movies, Mother’s Day is a film you either like immediately or dislike intensely. I’ve always considered it to be one of the best movies in the Troma library. It’s a most unusual horror-comedy that sticks with you long after the credits have rolled.

- Dr. Adam Jahnke

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