Writer/Director John Waters's film about a suburban mom turned serial killer. You may remember him from the MonsterVision movie Hairspray (spoofing 1960s dance shows), part of the Joe Bob's Summerschool 1999 lineup.
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Serial Mom (1994)
Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner of "Romancing The Stone", "V.I. Warshawski" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" [as Jessica Rabbit] fame) is the image of suburban maternal Stepford Wife perfection in her spotless wardrobe of sundresses and neatly pressed jeans. She keeps a perfect house and recycles faithfully. Her dentist husband Eugene (Sam Waterston) lives happily with every middle-class man's fantasy: an acrobatic harlot in the bedroom who cooks, irons, and mothers the kids with equal enthusiasm. Braindead Misty (Ricki Lake) is boy-crazy and gawky, while little Chip (Matthew Lillard) lives for splatter movies, but anyone who crosses them will have to answer to Mom.
Things aren't quite as perfect as they seem. Beverly harasses neighbor Dottie Hinkle (Mink Stole), who once rudely cut her out of a mall parking space, with obscene phone calls. She progresses to murder, killing the teacher who says Chip needs therapy, the neighbor who doesn't recycle, the boy who stands Misty up for a date with a hot slut (Traci Lords), the woman who doesn't rewind the tape she rented from the store where Chip works, even a patient who defies Eugene by refusing to floss. The mounting body count eventually convinces the local police that there's a serial killer on the loose, and bit by bit the evidence mounts to Beverly. At first her family can't believe what people are suggesting, but there's no denying the deadly truth.
"Do you think I need a lawyer?" she asks mildly.
"You need an agent," Chip replies, and he doesn't know the half of it. A local punk band has already started transforming Serial Mom into pop culture myth--the police capture her when she stumbles into one of their concerts.
Beverly's trial becomes a media event, attended by trial junkies and celebrities, including Suzanne Somers (appearing as herself), who hopes to play her in a TV-movie. Chip and Misty sell T-shirts and lapel buttons at a stand outside the courtroom ("I wish they'd had something like this at the William Kennedy Smith trial," enthuses a grateful consumer) and Eugene stands by his woman with husbandly stoicism. Against all odds, Beverly is acquitted, but has she reformed? She corners a juror who's had the audacity to wear white shoes after labor day (Patty Hearst) in a phone booth and beats her to death with the receiver.
John Waters's films like PINK FLAMINGOS, are known for their gleefully defiant bad taste. But Waters has faced a difficult career transition: today's popular culture robs him of the ability to shock with the mere mention of transvestism, murder, coprophilia, sexual perversion, or even rape by giant lobster. How can he hope to top homophobic murderers who blame it all on "The Jenny Jones Show" or the shameless media orgy surrounding the O.J. Simpson trial? Waters built an aesthetic based on transgression and dedication to glorifying the marginal, the monstrous, and the just plain repellent.
There is something delightful about one-time sex bomb Kathleen Turner's sugar-sweet evocation of 1950's sitcom mothers, from Harriet Nelson to Donna Reed. Her hair brushed into a perfect bob, her throaty voice wrapped around stock maternal injunctions, Turner is a model of squeaky-clean repression.
Rated R for violence, profanity, sexual situations, though a sanitized version (Waters probably laughed himself silly over the irony of that) of this black comedy was seen on the Lifetime Channel in November, 2003Additional Cast: Scott Wesley Morgan - Detective Pike Walt MacPherson - Detective Gracey Stan Brandorff - JudgeSerial Mom availability on video and on DVD from Amazon.com
Also check out the review of Stepmom, or that guy in MonsterVision host segments of The Stepfather for some real drive-in totals body count
Fun fact: the kid who fights an evil troll in the 1980s drive-in movie of the same name with help from the good witch who lives upstairs (June Lockhart/Anne lockhart) is named Harry Potter in the movie and his dad, Harry Potter Sr., is played by Michael Moriarity of It's Alive
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