Mother’s Day Massacre DVD review
Written by ZigZag
DVD released by Midnight Releasing
Written and Directed by Jeff Roenning
2006, NTSC, 77 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on May 4th, 2010
Adam Scarimbolo as Jim
Emily Grace as Doreen
Heidi Kristoffer as Jen
Greg Travis as Tex
Mel Gorham as Delores
Noah Fleiss as Bobby
Jim and Doreen are a happy teenage suburban couple who simply want to enjoy a bath together. Tex, the human tornado that is Jim’s abusive father, ruins their relaxing afternoon by coming home early. His enthusiasm for humiliating his son and the girlfriend pushes them into running away from home in search of Jim’s deadbeat mom who left under mysterious conditions when Jim was still a baby. It turns out that tracking down a missing parent is easily accomplished with a couple of clicks from Google.
Doreen invites some mutual friends, including Jim’s cute neighbor, Jen (Heidi Kristoffer), to join them on the trip and make it an adventure. Searching for answers, they arrive in what turns out to be a largely abandoned town in the backwoods of New Jersey. What they find is a family of hillbilly stereotypes led by an aging Mexican whore named Delores (Mel Gorham) who is every bit as vile and abusive as Jim’s father. Her violent sons proceed to murder as many of Jim’s friends as possible before he can escape with his girlfriend and cute neighbor.
Meanwhile, Tex (Greg Travis) is involved in an assortment of nefarious activities including palling around with a doctor who uses hypnotherapy to molest his patients. Tex also enjoys dognapping and verbally abusing any human that crosses his path. The only creature capable of facing off against Tex is the whore, Delores, who shows up at his house one night complaining that his son Jim has wronged her and stolen from her. Tex turns her away and she vows revenge.
The story jumps ahead several weeks and we find Jim (Adam Scarimbolo) and Doreen (Emily Grace) on the outs after the murderous events. Jen the cute neighbor appears in position as the successor for Jim’s heart, but their first date is over before it starts when not only Doreen interrupts, but also the insidious redneck family who arrives to finish their killing spree.
Mother’s Day Massacre is a frustrating experience with blame falling squarely on the shoulders of writer/director Jeff Roenning. The script is riddled with so many plot holes that it serves only as a template for one awkward scenario to collide with another. The tone shifts mercilessly from a mean-spirited comedy to attempts at grindhouse horror that when mixed together cancel the desired effect and result in something merely annoying.
This feels like it is actually two different scripts pushed together as Roenning focuses on developing the three main characters. Jim, Tex and Delores are fun individually, but he is unable to connect them convincingly to the rest of the film. The villainous adults are over-the-top cartoons that do not fit into normal society and young Jim is planted among a group of faceless victims that are friends only because the script says so. Despite playing out in a single story, there are too many elements at odds with each other to be coherent.
Adam Scarimbolo is likeable enough as Jim, but Roenning undercuts his performance by surrounding him with a barely-developed supporting cast. Jim is less convincing when placed in a group of non-dimensional friends and forced to trudge along the overgrown path of horror movie clichés. A prime example of the characters at odds with the story comes early as the group arrives at the town to get information about Jim’s mother, but instead on knocking on doors or asking for assistance, their first order of business is to split up and play hide and seek in the abandoned houses.
Greg Travis (Showgirls) owns this movie from the moment his abusive character steps on screen, but the problem is that Tex is so far beyond the realm of reality that he could never exist in a contemporary suburban environment. His erratic behavior includes a scene where he suspects someone is hiding in a crawl space under his shed that leads to an impromptu dance while pissing on the floor. While this is darkly comical, it would better fit within the confines of the crazy hillbilly family sequences.
Mel Gorham (Curdled) eats every piece of scenery in sight as she bullies her murderous sons and threatens Jim and his friends. Her energy is always at least three notches above everyone else around her, making it difficult to sit through the moments of confrontation where her shrieking is matched by any other character. She is fantastic, but would have benefited from a little variety if her intensity had been dialed back during some sequences.
Mother’s Day Massacre is most disappointing during the glimpses of quality performance as it is here that the missed opportunities really shine. Heidi Kristoffer is a strong actress given little to work with as the cute neighbor, Jen, but manages to steal the scenes she is in. The film features some fine effects moments both digital and practical, but the problem is they are buried in a mess of a movie that challenges the viewer to stay put until they arrive. The bottom line problem isn’t that too much is going on in this picture; it’s rather that the director is juggling a variety of elements and drops the ball at every opportunity.
Video and Audio:
The picture is given a surprisingly decent anamorphic transfer that accurately represents the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Flesh tones appear natural and colors are generally strong. Edge haloes appear on occasion, but there are no issues with macro blocking.
Dolby Digital 2.0 is the only audio option provided for the DVD, but it works and keeps dialogue clear and music free of distortion.
A self proclaimed “drunk commentary” with director Jeff Roenning and members of the post production crew is tolerable despite being over-populated. The highlight of the track is a random pedestrian pulled off the street to contribute her thoughts on the film (she makes it about an hour before leaving.)
The 30 minute featurette “13 Days of Bacon” documents the production process with ample behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.
“Head Surgery with Doug Devore” is a nice little piece covering the visual effects for a key sequence of the film.
Additional deleted scenes run 12 minutes and it is clear why these sequences were cut, as many of them are merely extensions from existing material.
Next up are a collection of cast interviews that run about 20 minutes. Slightly hidden on the various menu pages are links to a few short videos from the production.
A 20-second trailer can be easily found on the bonus features menu as a final “hidden” item.
The film toured the 2006 convention circuit under the original title Hot Baby, and when that failed to ignite a bidding war the producers cashed in on the holiday themed title and within three years managed to get the film released.
Click cover to purchase.