What I think I like most about Mother’s Day is how rooted it is in the time and era that it was made. That is a pretty generic statement, I realize. Almost any movie is going to be rooted in its time and era after all. For me though, there is something warm and welcoming about genre cinema from the 80’s, due mostly to how very conventional these films were. Horror films are no less conventional in this day and age, its just that the styles and moods have changed dramatically. In today’s modern horror, everything has become so youth focus and oriented that there is an initiative to make everything as glamorous as it could possibly me. Even though the leading actresses here are not middle age, their characters are celebrating ten years since graduating college. These women, probably in their early thirties, are actually… adults! I didn’t realize how much I missed that in horror films until I started watching this movie again. In today’s society, even the authority figures are often played by actors not long out of their teenage years. I enjoy that this movie didn’t run away from that and throw in a group of random teenagers to be slaughtered as has been customary for the longest time. That of course doesn’t actually speak on whether Mother’s Day is actually a legitimate piece of good cinema or not mind you. To answer that straight up, I will say that no, it is not a great piece of cinema. In fact, to go ahead and spoil my review right now I will go out on a limb and say that is a slightly above average slasher at best.
Being slightly above average however is still better than just being average! Especially in the world of slasher films, where the majority of films are infinitely sub-average. There are a few things here and there, sprinkled throughout with much love, and I think that separates this one from the flock. For one, it actually has a very decent soundtrack that was slightly ahead of its time. The music still sounds incredibly dated, but the soundtrack sounds like something I would expect from the early nineties and not something made on the tail end of the seventies. To go with that, the visual appearance of the movie has held up surprisingly well. This doesn’t actually LOOK like a movie made in 1980 and the preservation by Troma is pretty impressive. Mother’s Day actually has a better look than The Toxic Avenger, which was made five years after this movie. The performances range however and some are vintage Troma in their quality. I mentioned the first ten minutes up above, but these are indeed the worst bits of the movie in terms of acting. After you get past that small little hump, you start to realize that this isn’t going to be your run of the mill Troma picture. The two brothers and Mother are both excessively over the top, that is for sure, but somewhere around the middle of the movie things finally start to work together and the performances stop seeming funny and start seeming rather disturbed.
The violence absolutely deserves a mention, as it is usually a big part of the grading scale when it comes to slashers. Mother’s Day isn’t a “bodycount” movie by any means mind you, it instead takes the route of psychological torture, but there are a few select moments of gore. The threat and presentation of rape through the course of the movie can be very intimidating on the audience. In your average slasher these girls would have been picked off one by one, but instead they are held captive and forced to endure the humiliation of rape and the ogre-like brutality of these brothers. This immediately sets it apart from the ever flowing series of campy/corny Troma titles that would flow down the pipe in years to come. This sort of psychological horror obviously borrows heavily from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but implements the psychological sexual horrors of I Spit on Your Grave or Last House on the Left. The mix still works pretty well and Mother’s Day ends up as a fairly disturbed slice of early eighties American horror.