Blu-ray Review: Serial Mom (Collector’s Edition)



After two decades of making sick cinema, John Waters went from cult to family friendly with the release of Hairspray and Cry-Baby. He hadn’t sold out by any stretch of the imagination since both films were distinctly Waters’ fabled version of Baltimore. They had his sensibilities yet avoided being too graphically gross. Over the course of the two films, Waters improved his skills as a filmmaker. He created a third family film in 1994, but this time he created a family that wasn’t going to break out in song and dance. This family had a mother that loved keeping a clean house, baking pies and serial killers. Serial Mom was John Waters showing what kind of people he envisioned in the suburbs of Baltimore.

Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner) has a dreamy life in the suburbs. Her husband (Law & Order‘s Sam Waterston) is a successful dentist. Her two kids (Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard) are a little odd, but relatively normal. Beverly enjoys being SuperMom. She seems concerned by the normal things a mother worries about doing for her family including making them get off to school at the right time and obeying all the rules. Police detectives interrupt the morning routine as they are looking for clues to the obscene phone caller harassing neighbor Dottie Hinkle (Mink Stole). She is so cooperative with the cops and hasn’t a clue why someone would do something so evil to poor Dottie. As soon as the cops split and the family goes on with their busy day, Beverly take a moment for herself to sit back in a chair, disguise her voice and give Dottie a nasty obscene phone call. Seems we haven’t a clue about Beverly. She does more than a few dirty words over the phone. She is very protective of her children and won’t let anyone treat them wrong. Can the police really suspect Beverly of being Serial Mom?

Serial Mom has John Waters at the top of his game. The pacing is tight. The scenes never feel like they’re being stretched. The film plays like its 45 minutes and not 94 minutes long. Turner gives one of her finest performances being able to enjoy the comic gruesome action. You can believe she’s pen pals with the Mansion family yet also keeps her kitchen spotless. This is also one of Matthew Lillard’s finest moments. The star cameo at the big trial scene still dazzles. Serial Mom is John Waters at his prime as a filmmaker working with amazing talent. Serial Mom slays.

The videos is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the suburban weirdness of Beverly’s life. The audio is DTS-HD MA 5.1 which adds a little extra to the quaint suburban feels. The original mix is part of the DTS-HD 2.0. The movie is subtitled.

A Conversation With Director John Waters, Actress Kathleen Turner and Actress Mink Stole (35 minutes) has the trio discussing their time turning Turner into a homicidal homemaker. There’s a great feeling from them. Waters and Turner should make another film.

Audio Commentaries include one with John Waters and Kathleen Turner and a second with John solo. Waters and Turner cover a lot of ground as they discuss what made her want to go down to Baltimore to work with the director of Pink Flamingos. The solo track has John breaking down details of the film and his own view of the world.

The Making of Serial Mom (6 Minutes) is the original Electronic Press Kit with cast and crew chat and plenty of behind the scenes views.

Serial Mom: Surreal Moments (29 Minutes) has the cast minus Turner discuss their favorite time working with Waters. Everyone had plenty of fun.

The Kings Of Gore: Herschel Gordon Lewis and David Friedman (12 Minutes) connects John with the gorepolitation legends. John Waters discusses how Blood Feast influenced Serial Mom. 

Trailer (3 Minutes) focuses on how normal things should be with this family.

Scream Factory presents Serial Mom: Collector’s Edition. Directed by: John Waters. Screenplay by: John Waters. Starring: Kathleen Turner, Sam Waterston, Mink Stole & Ricki Lake. Rated: R. Running Time: 93 minutes. Released: May 9, 2017.

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