HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Serial Mom
HTS Overall Score:75
John Waters has a sort of well-deserved reputation in the film industry. The creepy little pencil mustached man has a delight for making off the wall, bizarre films that are repulsive and over the top at every turn. Films like “Pink Flamingo” and other off the wall short films (usually with over the top gore and nudity) garnered him the reputation of a real life Ed Woods, except with a bit more of a creeper vibe. He grew up in Baltimore with his counter culture friends, making 8mm and 16mm short films that soon got him on the way to a sort of strange cult stardom. “Serial Mom” is actually one of his most “mainstream” movies to date (behind the original “Hairspray”), even though it is about as crazy as you can seem. “Serial Mom” underperformed at the box office in 1994, but it gained a rapid cult following among 1990’s teens, and was pretty much on cable TV every time you looked around. After the 90’s petered out the film seemed to drop into obscurity, even though it got a DVD release back in 2008. I honestly thought we’d never see the movie ever hit high definition, but Scream Factory (the horror subdivision of Shout Factory) has taken it upon themselves to create a nice little package for us nutsoid horror fans.
Beverly (Kathleen Turner) is the epitome of your “Leave it to Beaver” 1950s house mom, with that exuberant smile, a perfectly ironed dress and dinner on the table every night. The only thing is, she’s absolutely insane. That happy smile can be turned upside down when she sees something that is not “perfect”. A neighbor refusing to recycle, a teacher who chews gum, and someone wearing white shoes after Labor Day (*gasp, the unimaginable horror!). On the outside, everything thinks that she is the perfect mom to her children Misty (Ricki Lake) and Chip (a VERY young Matthew Lillard) and a devoted wife to her husband (Sam Waterston), but underneath the surface she’s a twisted freak who’s just waiting to be let out. Beverly has a tendency to harass her next-door neighbor with obscene phone calls, and when her daughter Misty gets stood up by her boyfriend Carl (who dumped her for a baby-faced Traci Lords) she does the only thing a good mother would do. Stab him to death in the men’s bathroom.
As the people who tick mommy dearest off start to add up, so does the body count, with Beverly starting a rampaging reign of terror where NO ONE is safe from the perfection driven mom (I’m sure you’ll remember to rewind those VHS tapes after watching this one). You can only kill for so long though, and sooner or later Beverly is BOUND to get caught, and get caught she does. Let me remind you that I said that Bev was certifiably crazy, but sadly she’s crazy like a fox. With her recent murders the suburban house wife has garnered almost a celebrity like status amongst the local townsfolk (those she hasn’t killed) and the jury is looking like she MIGHT get acquitted. A scenario that very well may not bode well for her family.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96914[/img]While I said that “Serial Mom” is one of John Water’s most mainstream films, that does not in any way make it “normal” by any stretch of the imagination. Neither it your standard horror comedy either. Waters plays the movie off like a looney toons adventure, also incorporating his trademark elements of celebrities, crime, exploitation and of course, interior design faux pas. There’s almost a 1960s “Batman” vibe to the movie where we’re privy to goofy lines, over the top blood and gore, and you’d almost expect someone to say “Holy Toledo Batman!” at some point. There is a gleeful tongue in cheek style to the movie that just crazier and crazier, so at the end of the film you’re up to the top of your “what in blazes?” meter and you just smile and accept the sheer lunacy of the final act.
One of the biggest underlying aspects of “Serial Mom” has to do with John Water’s constant fascination with celebrities and how they get away with everything. The end act pretty much exemplifies his disgust as a VERY obviously guilty Beverly acts as her own lawyer and defends herself in the most over the top and blatantly cheating way, and EVERYONE falls for it (even turning her into some sort of media icon). There’s a scene with Suzanne Somers (playing herself) comes into the courtroom and breaks up the proceedings while everyone fawns over her, right in the middle of the prosecution gutting Beverly on the stand.
Rated R for satirical presentation of strong violence, vulgar language, and sexual episodes
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96922[/img]Scream Factory brings Water’s film to Blu-ray with a nice looking 1.85:1 AVC encoded image. The natural film stock of the 90s looks beautifully grainy, while not being so overly grainy as to look obtrusive. Colors are bright and cheery, with that slightly overexposed look of the 1990s. fine detail can look exquisite, with shots of roast chick and an beef on the bone looking deliciously real, while other times the film can look a little bit processed and smoothed out. Softness is usually fairly minor, and the red lipstick or the bright red gooey guts of Carol all show up incredibly well. Black levels are solid, showing off plenty of shadow detail and only minor flecks of crush to keep it from looking pristine. I have a hard time giving it a 3.5/5, but the image is JUST a little too smooth to give it a 4/5… if I had the ability to do a 3.75/5 I would, but this is the tools at our disposal.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96930[/img]Like usual, Scream Factory has given us a choice of TWO sound tracks today. The first being the original 2.0 track in lossless DTS-HD MA, and the second being a 5.1 mix in the same lossless format. Honestly both sound great, and while the 5.1 mix is better in many ways, it’s not THAT much better than its 2.0 counterpart. Dialog and special effects show up cleanly and clearly in the front 3 speakers (or front 2 if you’re listening to the 2.0 track), but some effects do bleed into the surrounds as well. Imaging is well replicated in the front and you can hear a few directional shifts (such as with Beverly’s car) that create a solidly dynamic sound stage. LFE is pretty mild, but there are some outbursts of more explosive energy, especially when the band L7 is playing on stage near the beginning of the third act.
• An exclusive conversation with Director John Waters, actress Kathleen Turner and actress Mink Stole.
• Serial Mom: Surreal Moments – featuring interviews with Waters, Stole, Actress Patricia Hearst, actress Ricki Lake, actor Matthew Lillard, casting director Pat Moran, production designer Vincent Pirano & more!
• Feature commentary with Waters and Turner
• Feature commentary with Waters
• The Making Of Serial Mom – original promotional
• The Kings Of Gore: Herschel Gordon Lewis and David Friedman featurette
• Original theatrical trailer
It’s ridiculous, it’s nuts, and it’s classic John Waters. Serial mom sadly was never as popular outside of the cult horror genre, but the Blu-ray is a well-deserved upgrade from the DVD release some 9 odd years ago. The audio and video look very good for a 90’s cheapo film, and the extras on the disc are up to typical Shout/Scream Factory standards (there’s a new interview with Waters, Tuner and Mink Stole that’s quite a doozy). The film itself is an acquired taste, but it is a blast to watch if you’re not into taking your horror TOO seriously (it almost reminds me of Vestron Video’s “Parents” in some respects). Definitely worth checking out.
Starring: Sam Waterston, Kathleen Turner, Ricki Lake
Directed by: John Waters
Written by: John Waters
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Scream Factory
Runtime: 95 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 9th, 2017
Buy Serial Mom On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Check It Out
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