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A Mother’s Day Retrospective

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Mother's Day

The late 1970’s and early 1980’s ushered in the golden era of slasher films. In the early 80’s, the formula for a hit horror movie was to take the premise of Halloween and implement it into your own unique setting. 1980 alone gave us Friday the 13th (and many others) taking place at summer camp, Prom Night; a school dance, and Terror Train; you guessed it, on a train.

But 1980 also saw the release of one of the most unique slasher films. Mother’s Day, though not for everyone, is one of the true bright spots from the slasher golden era. It’s difficult to even categorize it in the slasher subgenre because of how different it was from others being made at the time. If you were to pitch it to a movie studio you’d call it “Last House on the Left meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Quite the combination.

The premise is simple. We have three former college roommates (Abbey, Jackie, and Trina) going on a camping trip 10 years after graduation. We’re shown brief scenes of each of them living out their different lives, including a pool party scene taking place in Beverly Hills that I’m almost certain Paul Thomas Anderson referenced when making Boogie Nights (roller blades and all). While on their trip they are stalked and kidnapped by 2 backwoods maniacs (Ike and Addley). Ike and Addley take the trio back to their house in the woods to show “Mother.” In a series of events that are not for the faint of heart, the maniac son’s brutally torture the trio, trying to garner praise from Mother.

This could very well be (and has been) written off as a cheap exploitation movie. Roger Ebert famously gave it zero stars in his scathing review. While Mother’s Day does suffer some of the setbacks that a low-budget film typically endures, there’s also plenty of merit to be had. Some of that merit is found in director Charles Kaufman’s play on pop culture. Littered throughout the maniac’s house is an excessive amount of pop culture items. We see Sesame Street clocks, Trix cereal boxes, and a Raggedy Anne doll, just to name a few. When Mother is not watching her boys rape and torture, she’s watching whatever junk is on the nearest television. We even get an entire training montage of Ike and Addley doing their best Rocky Balboa impression. Whether Kaufman was making a correlation to the amount of pop culture one consumes and their mental health is up for the viewer to decide.

Another element that makes Mother’s Day stand out is its call backs and payoffs to what we saw earlier in the film. The opening credits is a great scene where our protagonists go through a photo album of their days as college roommates. During this scene there is mention of lowering a sleeping bag out their dorm room window, occupied by one of them, to sneak out late at night. This reference would be a throwaway in a lesser script but here it is paid off when the girls use the same exact tactic to escape from the second floor of Mother’s shack.

Mostly ignored in slasher movies before and after Mother’s Day are compelling character traits. Other than the obvious stereotypes like jock, hot girl, and nerd, we typically do not see much character development in a slasher. Mother’s Day is one of the few slashers to break from this mold. Through some early exposition and a flashback where she’s saved from a horrible date, we’re shown that Jackie is always being taken care of and looked out for by Abbey and Trina. When Jackie is taken away by Ike and Addley to have extra brutality inflicted on her, it is up to Abbey and Trina to save her once again. Although they make a valiant effort, it is to no avail as Jackie dies from her injuries. In the movie’s most emotional moment, we’re shown Abbey and Trina taking care of Jackie’s corpse before going out to extract their revenge on Mother and her boys.

Mother’s Day has become a cult classic among horror fans for its unique premise, satirical look at pop culture, and dark humor. Even if you’re not a fan of its disturbing content, there’s quality found in its screenplay and direction. It is an incredibly ugly film but if you’re willing to look past that, you’ll also find a surprisingly smart one.

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Oy! HANNUKAH THE MOVIE Aims to Get Made After Nearly a Decade

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This menorah has nothing to do with the story but, c'mon! It's a freaking T-rex menorah!

As a Jew, seeing holiday-themed horror movies is both a wonderful and bittersweet occasion. I love seeing my friends celebrate the holidays that are near and dear to their hearts but elevated with the viscera, gore, and terror that I so dearly love. But while Christians have films like Black Christmas, Santa’s Slay, Gremlins, Red Christmas, Krampus, etc…, the amount of horror films centered around Jewish holidays is slim to none. Don’t get me wrong here, okay? I’m well aware of population dynamics and, therefore, interest in a given subject/life experience. It’d just be nice to see something like that now and again.

Oh, but what’s this? Looks like writer/director Eben McGarr is ready to move forward on his near decade long project Hanukkah The Movie, a “TORAH-fying new tale of HORAH!” I get it. Sensible chuckle awarded.

Obediah Lazarus is the son of Judah Lazarus, the original Hanukkiller. In 1983 Judah terrorized NY for seven nights and was preparing to sacrifice his eight-year-old son, Obediah, on the eighth night. Judah was convinced it was God’s will, like Abraham and Isaac, to sacrifice his only son to God. Luckily for Obediah, police tracked Judah down and stopped the sacrifice, but Judah was gunned down in the process. Warped by hatred with no guidance, Obediah Lazarus becomes a religious extremist, intolerant of non-Jews, “bad Jews”, and those he perceives to be enemies of the Jewish faith. He is about to unleash eight nights of horror.

A group of Jewish teens are getting ready to party for the holidays but are in for a Festival of Frights. With the help of a wise rabbi, they deduce that the murder victims have violated Judaic law and that their only chance at survival is to embrace their faith.

The film has supposedly taken care of the majority of pre-production, so they’re now on Indiegogo with the goal to raise $100,000. Not a small amount but certainly not an unachievable goal. If a potato salad Kickstarter that wanted $10 ended up with nearly $56,000, I think this has a chance.

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Trailer: Man-Made Ghosts Invade OUR HOUSE This July

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IFC Midnight will be unleashing director Anthony Scott Burns’ feature debut Our House come July 27, 2018. The film stars Thomas Mann and Nicola Peltz and today we have the flick’s spooky trailer for your viewing pleasure.

You can check out the poster to the right and the trailer below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

Our House is directed by Anthony Scott Burns from a script written by Nathan Parker and stars Thomas Mann and Nicola Peltz. It’s produced by Lee Kim, Martin Katz, Ulf Israel and Karen Wookey. Executive producers are John Davis, Nick Spicer, Kyle Franke, Derek Dauchy, Noah Segal, Adrian Love, David Kehrl and Reik Moller.

The film hits via IFC Midnight this July 27, 2018.

Synopsis:

The story of a young genius who accidentally invents a device that amplifies the paranormal activity within his family’s house, possibly bringing back the spirits of loved ones — and unleashing things that are far worse.

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AMERICAN HORROR STORY 8 Begins Filming This June

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American Horror Story Season 6It was just the other day that we let you guys know that Billie Lourd will be back for the upcoming 8th season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story.

And today we have word via Deadline that the new season, rumored to be titled AHS: Radioactive will begin shooting around June 16.

Are you excited to hear filming will soon begin on AHS 8? Make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

AHS Season 8 stars Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Billie Lourd, Kathy Bates, and new cast member Joan Collins, who will play Peters’ grandmother. Murphy has revealed he’s interested in casting Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family) as well.

 

 

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