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Review: Mother's Day DVD (1980)

By Lance Vaughan



Three college girlfriends on an annual retreat set up camp in the back yard of two sadistic sub-mental yokels and their all approving mother. What ensues is a whiplash inducing pinball machine of goofy gags, harrowing torture/rape scenes, pop culture critique and oddly satisfying retribution. Whether the film's claims at social commentary are valid or just an excuse to depict the torture of it's female characters is up to debate. One things for sure, for a film made in 1980, the junk culture graveyard of glowing televisions, cheez-wiz and action figures is not only ahead of it's time it's downright prophetic.


Disappointingly the film is presented full frame. (1.33:) I'm told this is the original aspect ratio but then why is much of this so poorly cropped? One scene in particular of the lunatics peeping on the female lead's impromptu skinny dip cuts both brothers off at the nose. The colors are relatively bright but there's an abundance of surface glitches. This is digitally mastered? The sound I assume, is mono but have fun trying to find it identified on the packaging. That said, it must be admitted that some of these flaws add to the film's sleazy trailer trash charm. (If I keep telling myself that will I eventually believe it?)


Charles Kaufman's commentary gets off to a rocky start with minor technical difficulties and seems to end mid thought but on the whole it's a revealing look at low budget filmmaking in the eighties. This is a real family affair with brother Lloyd producing. Ma and Pa Kaufman in cameos and sister Susan as production designer. (No, the two brothers in the film are not based on Chuck and Lloyd.) For my money the break out star here is Susan, who was responsible for the interiors of the dilapidated homestead. The spray painted slogans and endless attention to detail offer new surprises to each viewing. By the way, if the wooded area in the film looks familiar it should. The film was shot at the same time as Friday The 13th at a camp across the lake.

Exclusive Interview With Charles Kaufman and Growing Up With Lloyd Kaufman are two mini interviews with the director neither of which offers much insight into the making of the film. These are really just novelty clips and can be passed over without consequence.

Mother's Day On Troma Edge TV and A Special Kaufman Family Introduction are equally useless. The back of the dvd would have you believe there is a treasure trove of extras but really it is much ado about nothing. These are two superfluous intros by Lloyd. The former is at least notable for featuring up and coming scream queen Tiffany Shepis (Scarecrow, The Hazing).

The less said about the Radiation March segment the better. Trailers are offered for other films but none for the movie at hand. No other film in the Troma canon offers itself so readily for interpretation and study, and being on the forefront of the post-Halloween slasher craze, memorializing. So it's a shame the boat has been missed on all counts. Perhaps a future two disc set could correct these omissions. We're not dealing with some giant heartless studio who bought up a small film and cares little for the fans. Troma should have all the deleted scenes, print adds and trailers at their disposal and they should be included here.


The original gloriously gruesome poster art is strongly displayed on the DVD cover though tarnished slightly by count-'em three Troma logos featuring mascot Toxie. Disney is less oppressive. The menus are intriguingly titled but mostly lackluster. (I did enjoy the use of the fatal TV for the chapter selections though.) An insert includes a catalogue of other titles and pointless instructions on dvd operation. I admire Troma's tenacity and independence but they've given birth to a idiot savant here and they should focus more on the savant aspect. Love it or hate it, Mother's Day is a fascinating film that counters it's irreverence with gravity and thoughtfulness it's DVD presentation deserves the same. Mother would not approve.



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