Mother's Day Blu-ray Review
Written by Joel Harley
Blu-ray released by 88 Films
Directed by Charles Kaufman
Written by Charles Kaufman and Warren Leight
1980, Region Free, 90 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 23rd February 2015
Nancy Hendrickson as Abbey
Deborah Luce as Jackie
Tiana Pierce as Trina
Frederick Coffin as Icke
Michael McCleery as Addley
Beatrice Pons as Mother
Shameful admission #1: prior to this review, I had never seen Charles Kaufman's Mother's Day. Shameful admission #2: I had seen the 2010 remake, enjoyed it and, like The Hills Have Eyes re-do, figured it would probably be better anyway. After viewing this 88 Films re-release of the 80s cult classic, I realise just how wrong I was. That is to say, 'very'.
Its story will sound familiar to those well versed in slasher horror, but is no less enticing because of it. Three old college roomates head out to the woods for a weekend of pot smoking, beer drinking and all-too-loud partying. There they are attacked by a pair of locals – the demented Ike and Addley – who bundle the girls up into their sleeping bags and drag them back to their home to show 'mother'. It's here that things get really interesting. Despite it being made in 1980 (at the same time and location as Friday the 13th) Mother's Day feels as fresh and subversive as the day it was made. While Friday the 13th has gone tired and tepid thanks to the many imitators that followed (not to mention its very own sequels) there's still nothing quite like Mother's Day. Certainly not the remake. Sorry, bad call on my part.
Part slasher film, part comedy horror, part rape/revenge movie, it's a slick, sick blast, playing like a faster, more frantic version of Last House on the Left with some slightly more satisfying payback for its poor female victims. Thankfully, the one area where it does hold back is in depicting its rape sequence. Such a thing is already a problematic subject to tackle in horror without it seeming exploitative or offensive (see trash like The Hike or I Spit on Your Grave sequel), so to do it in a comedy/horror is very rarely a good idea. Mother's Day's handling of the scene is definitely exploitative and offensive, but it at least manages not to be gratuitous or drawn-out. Most of the horror here is of a more polished Texas Chain Saw Massacre variety (the look and feel of the house is very Sawyer inspired) while its heroines get plenty of licks in of their own among all the bondage and torture on display. There's even a little subtext to it, via the brothers' obsession with pop culture and television. Not particularly subtle, granted (their bedroom looking like that Futurama scene on the junk-ball with the Bart Simpson dolls) but it's wittily done, and makes the ironic death sequences count for something.
Those who haven't seen Mother's Day would be recommended to do so immediately. It's one of the best kind of discoveries a film fan can have – an older horror film that not only holds up today, but also beats most of our modern output hands down.
Video and Audio:
The film looks great for its age, its vibrant colours popping from the screen in sharp Blu-ray HD. It sounds a treat too.
The folk at 88 Films have done a great job with this re-release, packing the Blu-ray to the rafters with special features, commentaries and extras. In addition to the usual trailers, slideshows and special edition booklet, it comes with a number of interviews, test reels and bonus footage. Horror fanboy, producer and occasional director Eli Roth pops up to espouse the virtues of his favourite film in a stream-of-consciousness verbal essay. It rambles on a bit, but it's hard to begrudge the man his passion. Then we're party to a chat between Charles Kaufman and remake director Darren Lynn Bousman. The latter spends most of the interview promoting his own product, but we can't blame him – it was filmed in 2010, after all. Best of the bunch is a collection of deleted scenes and test footage from Kaufman's own archive, which gives us a really interesting look at the make-up effects and technical side of things.