Try to imagine Roger Corman's LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS attempted as grim drama, shorn of all campy humor and performed as wrenchingly and painfully as Death of a Salesman. Not a nice thought, and a fair representation of MOM, a direct-to-video horror release.
The film isn't awash with gore, but what's there is quite enough. The pre-credit sequence depicts a lonely bus stop where vampire-like Nestor Duvalier (Brion James) sinks his fangs into a pregnant woman's belly. From that delightful sight the scene switches to a nice suburban home, where elderly
Emily Dwyer (Jeanne Bates) watches a TV news bulletin on the murder with maternal pride--her son Clay (Mark Thomas Miller) is the reporter. Mrs. Dwyer leases out a room in her home to Nestor and can't understand why the new boarder doesn't want her home cooking--until she accidentally discovers
that Nestor is a "flesh eater," one of a virtually immortal race with inhuman strength and a particular taste for unborn children. Nestor bites Mrs. Dwyer, and the wound transforms her into a fellow carnivore. Clay, meanwhile, has been investigating the resultant mutilation-slayings, and learns
that Mom and her tenant are behind it all. Through sheer luck Clay destroys Nestor, but he can't bring himself to harm his beloved mother. Instead he locks Mom in her room, hoping her condition will pass. It doesn't. While Mrs. Dwyer grows more and more voracious, the police link Clay to the
murder--and Clay's own lover is pregnant.
A more overt sense of humor may not have saved MOM (it did little to enhance FLESH EATING MOTHERS, a cheapo zombie spoof), but it would have made the grisly proceedings a bit more palatable. The picture does in fact have a sly satirical edge when Brion James is around. As the supremely creepy
Nestor he affects a great throaty New Orleans accent while delivering one predatory double-entendre after another. Unsuspecting victim: "Let me give you a hand." Nestor: "I'd really appreciate it." And later Mom snacks on that selfsame hand. Nestor also boasts that the flesh-eater race has
inspired all legends of vampires and werewolves down through the centuries.
Once Nestor departs the scene, so does any sense of fun. Writer-director Patrick Rand concentrates on Clay Dwyer's doomed efforts to cure Mom with all the grim purpose of a documentary on Alzheimer's disease. Even a subplot about Clay bringing home a prostitute (fiftysomething sex symbol Stella
Stevens, threatening to spill out of her bustier) to feed to his monster, a detail right out of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, is played straight. Jeanne Bates portrays the elderly Mrs. Dwyer in a fairly realistic manner, and there's precious little joy in seeing the old woman riddled with bullets or
Horror movies of course carry no obligation to be pleasant or uplifting, and there have been worse than MOM. But this leaden tale of man-eater and boy completely miscalculates in its approach to the viewer and leaves, yes, a bad taste. (Violence, substance abuse, profanity, adult situations,sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: Try to imagine Roger Corman's LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS attempted as grim drama, shorn of all campy humor and performed as wrenchingly and painfully as Death of a Salesman. Not a nice thought, and a fair representation of MOM, a direct-to-video horror release… (more)