During the mid-80s, there was money to be made for filmmakers in the straight to home video. The key to making that money is working on a shoestring budget and coming up with a title that would catch the eye of anyone browsing the shelves. Remember that this was during the era of mom and pop video stores before Blockbuster ruined the fun. According to some reports, there were 70,000 places renting VHS tapes during this time and they all wanted to keep customers happy so they’d drop off a rental tape and pick up a new one. These independent owners were always scanning the sales books for upcoming tapes that would tempt customers to rent the tape on a whim when their Hollywood blockbusters were checked out. There was an amazing market for films that made people ask, “This sounds freakish. I need to see it.” Imagine it’s 1988 and you’re poking around the shelves of the Videorama. Are you really going to pass by the VHS box for Flesh Eating Mothers? Imagine being able to show up at work at the student text bookstore and someone asks, “What did you see last night?” Do you want to give the boring answer of Rain Man or get to say, Flesh Eating Mothers?
Life in the suburbs features a lot of unhappy couples. This leads to quite few pent up husbands hooking up with frustrated wives. In the midst of all this cheating comes reports of mothers gaining superhuman strength and taking bites out of their teenage children. What’s happening? Turns out that there’s a strange strain of VD that’s causing this change. It’s only affects women so that’s why the neighborhood two-timing husbands can get going around without getting hunger pains when walking past the video arcade. The city health department isn’t quite making the connection between an outbreak of VD and a few bodies showing up with teeth marks in them. While the teenagers in the neighborhood know that something is really wrong, they can’t just do the normal thing and killed the cannibalistic mutants since it’s still mom. She might ground them and eat them as hamburgers. Can they survive until Mother’s Day?
Flesh Eating Mothers lives up to its title since there’s plenty of mother eating flesh in the film. The element of extramarital affairs is show, but there’s no real nudity on the screen. The R-rating is completely from skin that’s been torn into by maternal teeth and not merely exposed in shower scenes. Which is fine by me. There’s quite a bit of humor in the weirdness as the mothers get hungry and the kids discover they’re being served for dinner. What’s amazing is how much they on such a low budget. They made a $10,000 film look like a production that cost $100,000. The action takes place with the gritty visual charm expected from an indie film from the ’80s made in New York City. Easy to imagine grabbing Flesh Eating Mothers off the shelf at Videorama and feeling good about the risk the next morning when you’re being kind and rewinding. This was a gem from an era when a catchy title and 90 minutes of finished film found you in tens of thousands of videos stores. Sadly this era came to a crashing end when Blockbuster killed all the fun. Thankfully Flesh Eating Mothers has faded away like your mother’s rental card that went through the wash too many times.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer is a 2K scan of the 16mm archival elements. The film is a grainy picture especially with the dark shots. You don’t make a $10,000 film with a huge budget for lights. The audio is DTS-HD MA Mono. The levels are fine for the gross action. The movie is subtitled.
Audio Commentary with director James Martin allows him to discuss all the aspects of this film. He shot a lot around his own house and even had cast and crew living there. It’s what you do to make the low budget film work.
Introduction from Director James Martin has him happy that people still enjoy this film they made fresh out of film school.
Blood and Laughs (14:54) sits down with director James Martin. He did a lot of work on his film to make it happen. He worked on Splatter University (Blu-ray is out from Vinegar Syndrome) as an art director. He went to Brooklyn College for film and worked on videos for Billy Joel and Cyndi Lauper as crew. He decided that instead of raising money for a short film as a student project, he went the full length feature for under $10,000 route.
Hungry to Make Movies (14:38) catches up with producer Peter Ilich. He was an associate producer on Splatter University. He speaks of getting involved in the project and raising the budget. He speaks of the film getting praise in France for it’s attack on life in the suburbs. Ilich talks about distributors promising them the big money and screwing them over. The money was there, but they weasels were also there. They sued and were able to get the money that more than covered the budget. But they didn’t get as rich as they should have.
Vinegar Syndrome presents Flesh Eating Mothers. Directed by: James Aviles Martin. Screenplay by: James Aviles Martin & Zev Shlasinger. Starring: Robert Lee Oliver, Donatella Hecht, Neal Rosen, Valorie Hubbard. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 88 minutes. Released: February 25, 2020.
Tags: Flesh Eating Mothers, V/H/S, Vinegar Syndrome