Mother's DayMother’s Day
Director: Charles Kaufman

Cast: Tiana Pierce, Nancy Hendrickson, Deborah Luce
Review by Brian M. Sammons

Ah ’80s horror flicks, oh how I love them. Even when they’re not very good there’s still some charm there. Some fun to be had. Something about them that watching them always puts a smile on my face. Maybe it’s just because I grew up with them, or maybe they were just better made back then? Whatever the case, I’m always happy when a classic ’80s horror movie makes the jump to Blu-ray. And this one is no different.

Now Mother’s Day often gets lumped into the slasher subgenre, it’s really not. It’s a down and dirty rape/torture/murder movie that just happens to have some psychos in it, one which wears a sack-like mask for a few minutes. And that masked mad man is always on the cover of this movie to reinforce the slasher connection, but if you go into this expecting a typical stalk and slash then you may come away disappointed. I know I was when I first saw this movie years and years ago when I was a teenage fan of murderous masked maniacs. It wasn’t until watching it a second time some years later in my twenties that I saw the movie in a different light and actually liked it quite a bit, warts and all.

Surprisingly made and released through Troma, the company that gave us the wonderfully zany and perverse The Toxic Avenger, it is made with far more care and is meant to be more serious than the vast majority of that company’s movies. The story revolves around three female former college roommates who get together one day for some outdoor fun in New Jersey’s infamous Pine Barrens of Jersey Devil and that one episode of The Sopranos fame. They ignore the warnings from the obligatory Crazy Ralph-like Prophet O’ Doom and head into the “Deep Barons” where they run afoul of a demented old lady and her two grown and completely psychotic sons. The three women are abducted, beaten, tortured, and raped all to provide entertainment for momma. Eventually the survivors of this abuse seek righteous and very violent revenge on their sadistic captors and that’s about it for the plot.

However there are a few things that make this movie stand out from all the other backwoods horror films that came out around that time. First it’s the amount of time the movie devotes to the three women before they get kidnaped to flesh them out. They’re more than the typical blonde slasher fodder, and that’s good since the three of them have to hold up the entire movie. Second it’s the depraved, disturbed, and dimwitted family of psychos. They’re not on par with the freaky family from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but they got their own brand of crazy going for them that is oddly compelling to watch. They alternate between clownish, with their goofy buck teeth and ‘insightful’ arguments on what sucks more, punk or disco, to pretty terrifying in their gleeful approach to doing truly nasty things. There’s even some tension to be had when one of the brothers stalks one of the escaped ladies through the woods at night. Lastly there’s Queenie, and no that’s not the mother, but the less said about her the better. She’s really scary.

As for the extras on this new Blu-ray from Anchor Bay, there’s a collection of behind the scenes footage shot on Super 8 and narrated by director Charles Kaufman that runs about 10 minutes. There’s a 13 minute interview with horror director Eli Roth where he talks about his love for this film. There’s a bit taken from Comic-Con 2010 where director Kaufman and fellow horror director Darren Lynn Bousman, who not only directed a bunch of the Saw sequels but the Mother’s Day remake as well, talk about both of their movies that runs about eight minutes. Rounding out the extras is a theatrical trailer, a weird intro by some guy I’ve never heard of before, and an audio commentary track with the director that was a bit dry but informative. As for how the movie looks after making the leap to Blu-ray, it looks amazing for a low budget and pretty much forgotten horror flick from 1980. The colors are amazingly vivid, and everything is sharp and clear. For example, this was the first time I noticed that there were flies crawling on the creepy shop owner. Hey, that’s something. Sure there’s the occasional pop, crack, or grain on the screen, but this new BD is miles better than how I expected it to look and much better than a lot of better known old horror movies do when they come out in HD.

Mother’s Day is a dirty time capsule of early ’80s, low budget, slightly schlocky shock cinema, and I dig the hell out of it. If you’re a fan of the old school horror movies like I am then you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. Consider this one recommended.

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has penned stories that have appeared in the anthologies: Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books; Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ Weird Fiction line. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man” you can check out his infrequently updated webpage here: and follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.

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