Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Mom (1988)

Directed by:
Patrick Rand

MOM (filmed in 1988; released in 1990) is effective in many ways. For the most part it works as a black comic horror film. However, it also gets a little heavy handed toward the end and piles on the melodrama. For a movie with a lighter, campier touch much of the time, suddenly trying to be serious and dramatic doesn't always come off as it should. Emily Dwyer (Jeanne Bates, a regular presence in the films of David Lynch and great fun here) is an unhappy widow who lives at home alone and takes comfort in simple "motherly" things like cooking dinner and rare family holiday get-togethers. Desperate for companionship (because her two grown children are always "too busy" to spend time with her), she decides to start renting out an upstairs bedroom to the strange, blind, always-in-shades, deep-voiced Nestor (a very funny Brion James). Unfortunately for her, Nestor also happens to be some kind of cannibalistic monster who bites her and transforms her into one of the same. Now her newscaster son Clay (Mark Thomas Miller) has no choice but to jeopardize his marriage and job to help her out; even resorting to covering up her killing spree and putting steel bars over her bedroom windows to keep her from sneaking out at night!

FLESH EATING MOTHERS and RABID GRANNIES may be better remembered all these years later because of their snappier titles, but this one is better than either of those two and also more ambitious in content. A strong recurring theme here is how the lines between being loyal to your family and trying to have your own life always seem to be hopelessly blurred. Not all of the humor is on target, but most of it works and it's entertaining and sometimes outrageous; so a mild thumbs up from me. Mary Beth McDonough (from the TV series "The Waltons") co-stars as Clay's confused, pregnant girlfriend and cameo appearances are put in by Claudia Christian (who is killed in the opening sequence) and Stella Stevens (in a lively role as a tactless, over-the-hill barfly).


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