Case Number 03386: Small Claims Court


Troma // 1980 // 90 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 3rd, 2003

The Charge

"I'm so proud of my boys, they never forget their momma."

The Case

When three idyllic former college roommates (Nancy Hendrickson, Deborah Luce, Tiana Pierce) head off into the woods for an annual weekend of restful vacation, they find themselves bombarded by their worst nightmare. Acting lessons? Being turned down by SAG? No, something even more terrifying is lurking in the woods...something evil...something vile...something with only three teeth and a mother from the other side of hell! While sleeping at their campsite the three girls are brutally attacked and dragged away in the sleeping bags by Ike (Holden McGuire, kinda like "Lizzie," but not) and Addley (Michael McCleery), two vicious hick brothers living with their sweet old mother who just happens to enjoy watching her children beat, rape, and torture young women. And who says family values are dead? As the three girls are repeatedly abused they must figure out a way to get themselves out of this demented Beaver Cleaver household before they end up as momma's Mother's Day present!

Like a bad version of I Spit on Your Grave (wait, is that possible?), Mother's Day is a movie that's hardly worth the effort. Directed by Charles Kaufman, brother of famed Troma Team founder Lloyd Kaufman, Mother's Day takes the viewer on a whirlwind trip through a family of backwoods brothers led by their deceptively sweet mother (Beatrice Pons, TV's Car 54, Where Are You?) who has a penchant for live theater in her yard performed by kidnapped nubile women. In reality, Mother's Day is really a rip off of Tobe Hooper's superior The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and all those other "dead teenager" movies made in the late 1970s and early '80s. Except this one is by Troma, and we all know what that means: bad production values and even worse acting. Aside of Pons' somewhat eccentric performance, most of the actors appear to have been selected from the worst playhouses this side of Podunk, Iowa. The two actors portraying the brothers (McGuire and McCleery) are so inanely broad and Deliverance-like that you never once believe that this movie is real. Look for cameos by various Kaufman family clan members, including Lloyd himself! Charles Kaufman directs with little skill -- it doesn't take a highly trained auteur to tell a few actresses to run in the woods and pretend to be scared. And yes, for you gore hounds there is the resident gooey effect. Unfortunately, they're so cheaply rendered that you'll be looking around your home for a Best Buy assistant to give you your money back on your purchase. Does Mother's Day have any redeeming qualities? Well, it is a Troma movie, so I'm apt to give it a little leeway -- I mean, let's be honest, any studio that utilizes a toxically deformed superhero as their mascot can't be criticized too harshly. Troma has never been a studio known for great art, though they are known for great scenes involving exploding heads. Mother's Day was released in the early years of Troma and doesn't quite fit into their zany mold -- it's goofy all right, but not as goofily fun as B-classics like The Toxic Avenger or Nuke 'Em High. I suspect there's a slight fan base for this film, and if you're in it you'll be more than happy with this disc. For the rest of us, check out a different Troma title with more depth and a truly uplifting moral: Killer Condom.

Mother's Day is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame. Okay, so Troma isn't known for their great transfers either -- but can you blame them? Most of their movies appear to have been budgeted at the price of a Happy Meal. As for Mother's Day, the film definitely shows its age: colors are washed out and the transfer is speckled with dirt and grain. Needless to say, I wasn't very shocked. I'd like to say that the image is better than a VHS copy, but I can't, in good conscience, tell you that. What I can tell you is that it's available on DVD, so count your lucky stars and enjoy the movie. The soundtrack is presented in what appears to be Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono in English, though no mention is made on the package or disc (do you see the shock on my face? Do you?!?). Generally speaking this sound mix is in about as good a shape as the video presentation -- there are multiple instances where the mix is distorted and the dialogue muddy and hollow. Overall I was able to hear what was being said, though often it was drowned out by the music or effects. But hey, it's Troma, so what are you gonna do? No alternate soundtracks or subtitles are included on this disc.

Good old Troma Entertainment, always packing their discs with supplements no matter how bad the film is. Mother's Day includes an exclusive interview with director Charles Kaufman discussing how he got into the business and Mother's Day's success (it's on the list of the top 100 highest grossing independent movies of all time) and "Growing Up with Lloyd Kaufman" wherein Charles and his sister humorously describe what it was like living with Lloyd Kaufman. The "Radiation March" is a strange dance piece about toxic waste (don't ask). "Mother's Day on Troma's Edge TV" is just a just as strange featurette where Lloyd interviews his mother, played by himself (lots of gags a-plenty) and introduces the film. Finally there is a fairly entertaining, if goofy, commentary track by director/writer/producer Charles Kaufman, an intro to the film by Lloyd, and coming attractions/trailers for various Troma films (including the wildly entertaining Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part 4).

Viva Troma!

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 61

Perp Profile
Studio: Troma
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

* None

Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1980
MPAA Rating: Unrated

Distinguishing Marks
* Commenatray Track by Director / Writer/ Producer Charles Kaufman
* Radiation March
* Exclusive Interview with Charles Kaufman
* "Growing Up With Lloyd Kaufman"
* "Mother's Day on Troma Edge TV"
* Theatrical Trailers

* IMDb