I must confess that Mother's Day (1980), written and directed by Charles Kaufman — not the Charles Kaufman who wrote the brain-teasing Adaptation, Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but the brother of Lloyd Kaufman, who co-founded Troma Entertainment — looms large in my Times Square memories.
Not because it was good, I hasten to add, but because it was so fucking nasty that even the typically skeevy Times Square popeyes and horndick daddies with whom I shared theater space seemed kinda spooked out. Oh, and I have to mention that for a few months Billy Ray McQuade and I used the same second-floor Bally's Fitness Center on Broadway between 73rd and 74th Streets; it creeped the hell out of me every time I saw him on the treadmill... But I digress.
Before we go any farther, here's the plot:
Wolfbreath college grads Abbey (Nancy Hendrickson), Jackie (Deborah Luce) and Trina (Tiana Pierce) thought they'd be bffs forever, but no longer have much in common: Trina is living the high life in Beverly Hills; Abbey lives in Chicago and tends to her needy, demanding mom; while Jackie is barely scraping by in New York, in large part because her boyfriend is a boorish, junkie loser (some things never change). Their lives have gone in dramatically different directions, but they cling to their annual tradition of vacationing together, and for their tenth anniversary trip they go camping in New Jersey.
Unfortunately, the girls cross paths with psycho-rapist, junk-culture-addled brothers Ike and Addley (Holdem Mc Guire, Billy Ray McQuade), who share a squalid cabin with their beloved, sadistically deranged mama playeed by one "Rose Ross," the pseudonym behind which veteran character actress Beatrice Pons of TV's Sergeant Bilko and Car 54, Where Are You? chose to hide. She may have been a sufficiently supportive mom to appear in her boys' little movie — yes, she's Charles and Lloyd's mom — but she also knew better than to put her name on it.
Now is the point at which I have to admit that Mother's Day does some things remarkably right. The women's back stories, crudely sketched though they are, have stuck with me for the better part of 30 years, and their late night abduction from the tranquil woods is totally terrifying: One minute they're snug in their sleeping bags, the next minute Ike and Adderly have tightened the drawstrings and hauled them away like so much writhing loot. Hey, that's how misogynistic psychos are.
And then there's Abbey and Trina's reaction to finding Jackie, raped and brutalized by Ike and Adderly and stuffed in a dresser drawer like so much stinky laundry. Do they run or scream or faint? No way: They haul themselves up by their shiny spandex bra straps (remember, this was 1980) and give the brothers hell they never knew existed. Oh, and let's not forget that the momster is smothered with a clear plastic pillow shaped like a pair of breasts. Cheap irony? Sure. Disturbingly potent image? Hell, yeah!
But a remake? Mother's Day was thoroughly of a time, so why would anyone bother redoing it? What does the greasy, gritty, them-against-us Mother's Day have to do with a 21st-century America teeming with rich, privileged, blindingly white tartlets so invested in the notion that they're God's chosen chippies by virtue of their perfect teeth and slammin' figures that they don't even realize there's a notion.
Sure, you can read feminist and anti-consumer subtexts into the original Mother's Day… but seriously, don't bother. And yet Darren Lynn Bousman of the Saw franchise is on the case and fresh-faced young things like Jaime King and Alexa Vega have signed on to feign being abused and humiliated.
The Hollywood Reporter says the new, improved screenplay sees Ike, Adderly and Mama returning to their cabin and terrorizing the white-bread family who have the temerity to be living there. Which actually doesn't sound like much of a remake... wait, it must be a reimagining. And ooooh, do I sense an allegory about gentrification? Heavy, dude. Can I go now?