Mom (1991)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2013-05-12 08:18

Written by: Patrick Rand, Kevin Watson
Directed by: Patrick Rand
Starring: Mark Thomas Miller, Jeanne Bates and Brion James

Reviewed by: Brett Gallman

Call her mad, call her a monster, just make sure you call her once a week!

Given the late 80s rise of jokey horror movies like I Was a Teenage Zombie, My Best Friend is a Vampire, and My Momís a Werewolf, you might expect 1991ís Mom to be among this brood. After all, itís about a sweet old lady being turned into a werewolf; however, this is played to the genuine horror of those around her rather than to their bemusement. I donít want to say itís difficult to take it seriously, but letís just say your enjoyment of something like Mom depends on how many unintentional guffaws itíll beckon from you because itís difficult to recommend on any other level.

I assume that didnít deter most of you from reading, so here goes: Mom begins on Christmas Eve, when the title character (Jeanne Bates) is visited by her son, Clay (Mark Thomas Miller), and his wife (Mary Beth McDonough), who are currently expecting their first child. So mom will soon become a grand-mom, provided she hangs in there for a few more months. That becomes a nebulous proposition when a stranger (Brion James) shows up inquiring about her boarding room that sheís put up for rent. The problem? We already saw this guy--who poses as a helpless blind man--devour an unsuspecting girl at a bus station in the filmís prologue.

The film strings out whatever suspense there is to a geriatric woman harboring a werewolf for about fifteen minutes, at which point the game is given up and poor Emily is bitten when she discovers her tenantís secret. Somewhat remarkably, the film keeps up to speed, as Clay immediately investigates when her behavior seems to be a bit odd (though he is assisted by what has to be the kindest deli clerk in Los Angeles, who gives him a call when Emily doesnít show up for her weekly visit). Anyway, itís at this point you can see a funnier film trying to creep through, as youíve got Brion James rocking a Bayou accent trying to show this old bird the ropes of feasting on homeless people. Of course, Clay has to ruin it all by tailing them and figuring it out all, thus sucking the little bit of air right out of the balloon.

The hot air is then wedged firmly up his ass, as he becomes the stick in the mud that prevents Mom from really being any sorts of fun. Once Clay discovers the horrible secret, the movie attempts to be deadly serious and hard-boiled, despite the fact that mom is curled up in bed with a gnawed off arm and her son keeps digging up fresh corpses in the garden. Mom is delightfully stupid, but donít tell Mark Thomas Miller that, as heís forced to dig his heels in and become the guardian to his dear old mother. He manages to come off worse than the people whose faces turn into fake rubbery masks and eat people, though, since he goes nuts and locks his mom in her room, leaving her growl like the Hulk as she starves without supper.

And itís not like he can come up with some consolatory leftovers later since she prefers the taste of human flesh. Eventually, he tries to make things right by snagging a buxom prostitute named Beverly Hills, whose shrill voice will convince you she probably deserves to be sent upstairs into grannyís maw. It was at this point that I decided there wasnít much hope left for Mom--itís a movie that features a guy being set on fire, another guy plunging from a rooftop, and bodily remains being roasted on a grill, yet it somehow manages to be an incredible slog thanks especially to Miller and McDonoughís uniformly unconvincing turns. The latter ends up feeling a bit jilted and assumes her husband is running around on her instead of covering up his momís bloody tracks, and her big blow off scene is played with the conviction of a wife whose husband forgets to take out the trash every now and then.

Mom is a pretty stupid melodrama when it should be a broad, splatstick comedy--not that those always turn out great, but they at least find some kind of life by embracing how silly they are. Patrick Randís movie has some silly and gory moments that arenít really worth sticking around for since Mom lifelessly pokes around a bunch of dismal scenes without a hint of actual wit, save for Batesís deadpan insistence that killing a homeless person would have been preferable to killing a cop. I legitimately chuckled there, a moment that was in stark contrast to the rest of the film, which forced me to laugh as a defense mechanism against its utter badness. That Mom hasnít made it to DVD probably isnít much of a surprise, and I wouldnít hold my breath waiting for it--however, it does reveal just whatís waiting in the bowels of Netflixís instant streaming collection (perhaps mercifully, it's now expired). Check it out if you must; just donít watch it with your mom--or anyone else, lest you want charges brought against you. Trash it!

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