Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Psycho-Babble: Mother's Day - When Mom's Manipulate their In-Bred Offspring to Attack!

My respect for bloggers who update consistently with compact, content filled nuggets grows daily. It has been a month since my last post and here I am with followers and comments (ok, one comment) and such. Thanks, guys! I am hoping to learn how to be a little more succinct and to up my output when things get less busy. In the meantime, we have ...

Mother's Day!

I'm not sure what I love more about this dreadful, sleazy little film ... (1) the blatant rip-off of Last House on the Left, (2) the over-the-top performances by Rose Ross, (3) Charles' Kaufman's balls out claiming of this movie as his very own above the title, or (4) Momma's death by inflatable boobs.

OK. I lied. I am sure. Momma's death by inflatable boobs was MENSA-level brilliant. All other enumerated potential loves pale in comparison.

Mother’s Day was a frittata of horror sub-genres – one part exploitation/rape and revenge, stir in a scary inbred-hillbilly family, add slasher-movie holiday tie-in, sprinkle lovingly with a Bad Scary Mom. It’s like “I Spit on Your Grave,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and “Psycho” had a drunken three-way and 9-months later … Mother’s Day was born.

Sure this, like all movies my Dad took me to at the drive-in, was thoroughly inappropriate for an 11-year-old. However, just like “It's Alive” brought to life my psychological shadow friend - Angry Mutant Baby, Mother's Day brought out that other major dark psychological archetype to light: the BAD MOTHER!

Now, we all have Moms. We all have complicated relationships with our real Moms. But inside of our own little heads, we also have the archetypal Good Mother ... our inner nurturer and caretaker. She is represented in religion and myth as the Goddess, Mother Mary, Ellen Ripley, Glinda the Good Witch, etc. And we also have the Bad Mother - a cluster of traumatic memories of our real Mom's failings, represented in religion and myth by the Wicked Witch, the Alien mother, Mrs. Bates, Mrs. Voorhees, Mrs. White in Carrie, etc. Simply put, the good mother gives and the bad mother takes away (and isn’t nice about it!).

Our real Moms are usually neither good nor bad, but human. Our brains as babies register our "good mother" (who gives exactly what we want when we want it) and "bad mother" (who had a bad day, mayhaps, and decides to smack our fanny) as completely separate people, leading to these enduring archetypes throughout our lives. There is the “good mother,” who held you and loved you and gave a what-for to that nasty 7th grade English teacher with submarine sandwich crumbs in his beard. There is the “bad mother” who told you, in frustration, that she was going to leave and never come back if you didn't stop fighting with your siblings and inappropriately shared her frustrations with your father with you … for instance.

Mother in Mother's Day is played by the delightful Rose Ross. She is the sweet little old Southern lady that meets young girls at Est-like meetings and brings them home to watch her mutant sons Ike and Addley rape, abuse and murder them.

(The element of exploitation, sadism, and sexual cruelty make this particular film hard to watch and equally hard to be blogger-snarky about … save for the stellar sweetness that is Mother’s death by inflatable boobs … did I mention that? However, the film is firmly on the side of our heroic heroines and does not dwell too long on the nasty rapey stuff, so I won’t address the ethics of rape in exploitation fare here)

The "bad mothers" of horror are usually violent prudes. It's hard to not notice that these are all pre-sexual liberation Moms – repressed by the society in both their anger and their sexual expression. Mrs. Voorhees hated the horny kids at camp. Mrs. White hated the sinful kids at Carrie's high school and diminishes Carrie’s gifts, shames her for wanting to go on a date to her prom, and calls her breasts “dirty pillows.” Mrs. Bates kills anything for which son Norman gets a boner. The “bad mother” does not appreciate the sexytime one bit … harrumph!

Mother in Mother’s Day is not that simple. She gets perverted glee out of watching her sons rape and torture their prey. She requires them to attend to it with an eerie military precision.

But what Mother has in common with the other Bad Mother’s of horror is her very unhealthy relationship to her “special” child(ren). She similarly has a "reverse umbilical cord" that takes from her evil spawn, instead of giving to them. She is manipulative and psychotic. (one might wonder - if one has a prediliction to wondering about such things - if Ike and Addley had been given the opportunity to move to the city and become respectable Wall Street sociopaths instead of attending to their their needy psycho mother and protecting her from her cannibalistic sister Queenie ... would they have turned out different ... been spared the hatchet to the peen and death-by-Drano revenge dished out by the headbanded heroines?).

When mother dies by way of inflatable boob, I can imagine Charles Kaufman spouting about the symbolism of the Bad Mother, the one who took, took, took, but never gave, being killed by a cheap facsimile of a mother's nurturing breast. Poetry, indeed.

In creepy ways, I could relate to at least some aspects of Ike and Addley. At 11, I felt like my Mother's special boy. I was her favorite, Momma's little helper, the good boy (yeah … the gay one).

So, watching Mother order her disordered sons to do her evil bidding, I was disturbed that there could be anything untoward about a Mother’s relationship to her “boys.” This film initiated me into the idea that Mom, too, has a dark side. Mom's can hobble their children emotionally, create inappropriate cross-generation bonds, etc. (Note to readers: It would have been nice to learn this in a more appropriate fashion than a sex-and-violence exploitation film at 11, but such was my lot.)

So dark lesson learned from age-inappropriate film #3? Love your mom, but be on guard! Moms are human beings whose capabilities for love, compassion and empathy can be hindered by their dark side which is manipulative, violent and emotionally hobbling.

Except for you, Mom. Please don't call me about this.

Happy Mother’s Day….

1 comment:

  1. Great (and much funnier) overview of the film here: