Mother's Day (1980 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Charles Kaufman|
|Edited by||Daniel Loewenthal|
|Distributed by||United Film Distribution Company|
Mother's Day is a 1980 American rape and revenge slasher film directed, co-written and produced by Charles Kaufman, brother of Troma Entertainment co-founder Lloyd Kaufman (who acted as an associate producer of the film). The plot focuses on three women on a camping excursion who fall victim to two deranged, murderous young men and their unhinged mother. The film contains elements of the satire, thriller and slasher genres.
Upon its release, Mother's Day received criticism for its depiction of violence and rape, and was banned in the United Kingdom by the British Board of Film Classification. While not a success during its release and receiving a negative reception from critics, the film has since developed a cult following. It has also been subject to critical analysis from film scholars for its subtextual commentary on consumerism and the proliferation of television in popular culture. A loose remake of the same name was released in 2010.
During a Growth Opportunity graduation, (a parody of Erhard Seminars Training), a couple named Terry and Charlie are offered a ride from an old woman and are driven into the woods. After the old woman's car stalls, two inbred killers appear and attack; Charlie is decapitated with a machete in the backseat while Terry is brutally assaulted before being garroted by the old lady. It is revealed that the dual killers named Ike and Addley are the woman's sons.
Meanwhile, three women who have been friends since college—Trina, Abbey, and Jackie—prepare for an annual "mystery weekend" trip, where one of them arranges a getaway in a location unknown to the other two. Jackie, who lives in New York City, has planned a camping trip for them in the Deep Barons, a forested area in rural New Jersey. Trina, a glamorous model living in Los Angeles, and Abbey, who returned to Chicago after college to care for her ailing mother, travel to New Jersey, where Jackie picks them up. After stopping at a nearby store for supplies, they arrive at their destination and begin to camp. While in the woods, they begin to explore, sitting around the campfire telling stories and having fun by swimming and fishing. Unbeknownst to them, they are being stalked by Ike and Addley. In the middle of the night, Ike and Addley attack the women, binding and gagging them. The three are taken by Ike and Addley to a ramshackle home in the woods where they live with their unhinged mother, whom they impress by torturing people. The brothers tie the women to exercise equipment inside the home, but Jackie is swiftly selected by Mother to be the brothers' first victim and is taken outside. Addley rapes Jackie while Ike photographs it, and Mother looks on encouragingly.
Abbey and Trina awaken the following day and plan to escape while Mother and her boys exercise outside. During their exercise routine, Mother is alarmed when she spots her deformed sister Queenie—who lives in the woods and subsists on vermin—roaming in the distance. Inside the house, Abbey and Trina discover Terry and Charlie's bodies, and find a brutalized Jackie hidden inside a drawer. The three women manage to escape and flee into the woods. While Ike searches for the women, Addley remains at home with Mother where he questions Queenie's existence and if Mother's claims are just a ploy to keep the boys at home with her. As Jackie is unable to move quickly because of her injuries, Trina and Abbey become separated. Trina finds the car destroyed and is chased by Ike, while Jackie peacefully dies of her wounds. Ike eventually loses track of Trina, and she reunites with Abbey for revenge against Mother and the brothers.
The next morning, Abbey and Trina arm themselves with weapons and begin to invade the cabin to avenge Jackie. Trina castrates Addley with a clawhammer before Abbey suffocates him. When the women drag Addley's body outside, Ike leaps from a second-story window and attacks them. Enraged over his brother's death, Ike tries to strangle Trina before Abbey pours Drano down his throat. He chases the women into the house, where Abbey slams a television set on his head before Trina stabs him to death with an electric knife. With the brothers dead, the girls confront Mother in the basement where she is watching television, and sadistically suffocate her with a pair of inflatable breasts. With their vengeance complete, the two girls make a burial for Jackie and prepare to leave the woods before they are suddenly attacked by Queenie who leaps at them from behind the bushes.
- Nancy Hendrickson as Abbey
- Deborah Luce as Jackie
- Tiana Pierce as Trina
- Beatrice Pons as Mother (credited as Rose Ross)
- Gary Pollard as Ike (credited as Holden McGuire)
- Michael McCleery as Addley (credited as Billy Ray McQuade)
- Bobby Collins as Ernie (credited as Robert Collins)
- Karl Sandys as Brad 'Dobber' Dobson
Analysis and themes
Film scholar John Kenneth Muir, though dismissive of the film, notes that it is considered "a satire of our "TV society," since the film is littered with references to pop culture. For instance, you'll see the U.S.S. Enterprise, a Batman action figure, Ernie (of Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street), G.I. Joe, and even King Kong. You'll see Trix cereal, and a death by a television set."
Writer Scott Aaron Stine proposed this sentiment in his book The Gorehound's Guide to Splatter Films of the 1980s, writing that the film "makes pointed stabs at consumerism, pop psychology, TV culture, parental expectations, and even the gratuitous excesses of the '70s." Critic Phil Hardy has similarly noted: "As satire, Mother's Day works rather well, opening with a knock at encounter groups... and moving on to make a swipe at American motherhood. The film ends as a gross parody of consumerism, with McGuire and McQuade eating junk cereals by the bucketful, endlessly arguing whether punk is better than disco, collecting Sesame Street and Star Trek merchandising and raping and killing, 'just like I seen on TV.'"
Mother's Day first opened in the United States on September 19, 1980, screening in New Jersey. It continued to screen in various U.S. cities throughout the remainder of the year, opening in Tucson, Arizona on November 7, and Los Angeles on November 14.
The United Kingdom's film rating board (BBFC) rejected the film in 1980, banning it from distribution. The film was shown several times on the Horror Channel between 2005–08, with no cuts but it was not passed for release on home media until 2015.
Mother's Day received significant criticism for its depiction of violence, particularly violence against women. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote: "Any traces of talent and dark humor that might show through Mother's Day are drowned by the cynicism and horrendousness of the entire enterprise." Roger Ebert famously despised the film, giving it zero stars in a review and saying how disgusted he was at its violence, gore, rape and torture during "Sneak Previews", writing "The question of why anyone of any age would possibly want to see this movie remains without an answer." Ted Serrill of The Central New Jersey Home News criticized the "cartoonish acting and awkward camera set-ups," as well as its failure "to generate terror, much less suspense." Catherine Chapin of The Charlotte Observer panned the film for its violent content, writing that it "makes censorship seem like a good idea," and that it "has no socially redeeming warning message."
In the Detroit Free Press, Jack Mathews encapsulated: "How much space should a newspaper devote to a review of a film such as Mother's Day, a repulsively graphic and vile story about a pair of retarded backwoods brothers who drag young women home to rape and bat around for the pleasure of their demented, sadistic mother? As little as possible." Tom Sullivan of The Herald-News panned the film, deeming it "just plain sick. And not especially entertaining, even at its better moments," while Ernest LeoGrande of the New York Daily News expressed a similar sentiment, giving the film a zero-star rating and writing: "The day homicidal rape becomes funny, Mother's Day may be considered a comedy. For the meantime, director Charles Kaufman has perverted his obvious sense of the ridiculous to pander to the audience for pornographic violence."
A new DVD and Blu-ray was released September 4, 2012 by Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film was released for the first time in the United Kingdom as Number 02 of 88 Films "Slasher's Classics Collection" series on Blu-ray on February 23, 2015.
The remake of Mother's Day directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and produced by Brett Ratner was released at Fantastic Fest in September 2010 and in the United Kingdom in June 2011. The film received several pushbacks, but was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 8, 2012.
- Muir 2010, p. 115. sfn error: no target: CITEREFMuir2010 (help)
- Stine 2003, p. 193.
- Hardy 1985, p. 353.
- "UA Theatres". The Central New Jersey Home News. New Brunswick, New Jersey. September 19, 1980. p. 12 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Mother's Day trade advertisement". Tucson Citizen. Tucson, Arizona. November 6, 1980. p. 26 – via Newspapers.com.
- Thomas, Kevin (November 14, 1980). "Violence for 'Mother's Day'". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. p. 30 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Mother's Day (R)". British Board of Film Classification. October 12, 1980. Archived from the original on September 4, 2019. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
- "Mother's Day". British Board of Film Classification. February 23, 2015. Archived from the original on September 4, 2019. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
- "Mother's Day". Refused Classification. Archived from the original on February 1, 2013. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- Ebert, Roger (December 1, 1980). "Mother's Day Movie Review & Film Summary (1980)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
- Serrill, Ted (September 27, 1980). "'Mother' almost as rotten as the villains". The Central New Jersey Home News. New Brunswick, New Jersey. p. 23 – via Newspapers.com.
- Chapin, Catherine (March 3, 1981). "'Mother's Day' at the Village". The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte, North Carolina. p. 16A – via Newspapers.com.
- Mathews, Jack (October 10, 1980). "This one's not made for mom". Detroit Free Press. Detroit, Michigan. p. 19 – via Newspapers.com.
- Sullivan, Tom (September 26, 1980). "One sick flick; one slick flick". Herald-News. Passaic, New Jersey. p. 48 – via Newspapers.com.
- LeoGrande, Ernest (September 22, 1980). "In a word, gross". New York Daily News. New York City. p. 459 – via Newspapers.com.
- Mother's Day at Rotten Tomatoes
- Mother's Day (VHS). Media Home Entertainment. 1983. M-236.
- Mother's Day (VHS). Video Treasures. 1988. SV9058.
- "Mother's Day DVD". Amazon. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
- Dee, Jake (June 8, 2012). "Exclusive: Anchor Bay remasters original Mother's Day on DVD & finally releases it on Blu-ray this fall!". JoBlo.com. Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
- Ellinger, Kat (March 6, 2015). "Mother's Day: Film Review". Scream Horror Magazine. Archived from the original on September 4, 2019. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
- "He Finally Hit Puberty! 'The Toxic Avenger' Remake Confirmed | News Article". FEARnet. April 7, 2010. Archived from the original on July 31, 2012. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
- Hardy, Phil, ed. (1985). The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror. 3. London: Aurum Press. ISBN 978-0-948-14904-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Muir, John Kenneth (2012). Horror Films of the 1980s. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-47298-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Stine, Scott Aaron (2003). The Gorehound’s Guide to Splatter Films of the 1980s. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN 978-1-476-61132-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)