Darren Lynn Bousman has been a busy boy as of late. From his humble beginning doing the follow up to Saw (very humble, right?) to Repo: The Genetic Opera (which I put in my DVD player at least once a month but do not actually watch) to Saw III… Saw IV… 11-11-11… Devil’s Carnival and of course, less we forget that the remake craze is still in full effect, Mother’s Day. We are here to discuss the Blu-Ray release of the remake of the Troma classic hillbilly horror, cringe-fest. We’ll briefly go over my thoughts on the “remake” (because it ain’t a prequel) and then we’ll get into the combo packagey-goodness.
For the uninitiated, Mother’s Day was an early Troma release directed by the brother of one of Troma’s founders Lloyd Kaufman, Charles Kaufman. It’s the mother knows best, backwoods torture and sadistically ravage a group of co-eds headed into the woods for a little R&R. It’s funny and perverse. It’s Troma people. If you don’t like Troma or maybe can’t appreciate movies like Blood Sucking Freaks (an early Troma release) you really have no room to be watching horror films that involve the last name Kaufman anyway. The recent release of Mother’s Day is only a remake in basic principles. Yes there’s a mother who manipulates her children into doing some pretty nasty things to a group of unsuspecting yuppies, but it’s polite and sophisticated. Bousman’s Mother’s Day is an attempt to bring the good ol’ Saw-loving torture porn into your own home without the aid of Jigsaw or that damn tricycle. It’s effectively shocking, low on the one liners, high on the hotties and may have enough gore to satisfy the Saw fans but lacks the sense of humor of its predecessor. It’s nice to know that in the 30 years since the original films release that we don’t all view our mother’s as crotchety old ladies in rocking chairs with faces half removed (see original cover art for details).
I’m a fan of both movies for different reasons. I enjoy the comedy and brutality of the original. It’s artwork is incredible and has stuck with me since I was a video store monger at the ripe age of ten. I can’t tell you how many times I picked up that damn cover only to have my parents remove it from my innocent fingers tips. While the original is brutal its narrative falls off the tracks at the first sign of a fork in the tracks. What you end up with is an 80’s style hillbilly slasher without the charisma of a film like Last House on the Left which brutalizes its victim with more suspense, tact and all out perversity. Not to say that Last House on the Left is a hillbilly pic of course, but if the main design is to shock the audience the Last House turns up the voltage like an AC/DC riff from Angus while you might get a bit Kipp Winger from Mother’s Day.
The remake or maybe it’s best to switch over to “re-imagining” at this point since it’s not the same film at all, is sub par when compared to films of a similar type released in recent memory. Some hate the term “torture porn” but I embrace it. It’s a nice marketing strategy that shows off our favorite special effects guys talents This doesn’t go quite as far as say Saw or Hostel. It just ain’t that brutal. This would be soft core torture porn. That’s not to say that soft core doesn’t have it’s place on Cinemax or in the sub genre. Sometimes it’s nice to keep the graphic penetration out of the camera eye. There’s plenty of brutality but this one might be more accessible for the those of us who might not be students of Mr. Wan and Mr. Roth. We must give most of the credit to Rebecca De Mornay for portraying deary ol’ mom. Cast anyone else in that role and Bousman’s Mother’s Day couldn’t be as effective. She is the ultimate special effect.
So that’s how I feel about it in a nutshell and since we here at the The Liberal Dead have sounded off on this release in prior articles and podcasts I’ll leave it at that. A good flick for some. Others will hate that attempt to remake a classic piece of Troma. Others still will find it a jump on the new shock cinema band wagon.
The Blu-Ray/DVD combo release is fine I suppose. There’s nothing that really had me stirred up about the packaging or the presentation. The special features are standard fare, but at least for a price tag under twenty bucks (while it’s on sale of course) you’re getting the blu-ray and the DVD. I’ve heard it said that the quality in the transfer appeared to be lacking although I didn’t necessarily find this to be the case. In fact I found the audio to be an excellent source of actual seat-separated-from-ass jump scare. It’s some fine audio, but if you’re going to take any issue with the actual release, it would probably be best to point the finger at the actual movie production rather than the distribution there of. I could use a nod to the classic cover art. Personal preference of course that would be wholly inappropriate given the differences between the original film and this release.
What you have here is a piece of one of Anchor Bay’s better release in the remake cycle. It’s got actors that can inspire if you let them. It isn’t a frame by frame recap of Charles Kaufman’s original and shows some prowess when it comes to the gore galore (all I should have to say is “head shot” to those of you who have seen the film). If your a tech junkie and want to wax geek about the overall pixel ratio than I’m not your man. The casual viewer will enjoy this purchase and if you’ve got a half way decent set up, you can make use of the blu-ray transfer. It’s light on the extras or rather it just ain’t packing the big rubbery extras you might be looking for in a release that owes its namesake to a much older film.
Mini-Rant: Distro and Production Companies… we want cover art and we want it now!
Also, Happy Mother’s Day… probably not the best gift for mom, but maybe you can show it to your mum and thank her for not being THAT mum.