Now on Blu-ray: John Waters’ Demented Comedy ‘Serial Mom’ Gets a Deadly Special Edition

Serial Mom

The career of John Waters can be looked at in two halves. The first half of his career were the outlandish, outrageous, and truly shocking movies like Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble. The second half starts with his biggest commercial success in Hairspray and eventually being forced to work without his friend and star Divine, who passed away shortly after Hairspray. After the success of Hairspray, Waters was able to take on projects with bigger budgets within the studio system, and from this second half of his career none of his movies were better than Serial Mom. Waters has always been fascinated with true crime stories and serial killers, and he’s written about the topic in his various books over the years. He’s also always had an interest in the crossroads where fame and infamy meet, and Serial Mom allowed the filmmaker to explore both subjects in a raucous comedy that is now getting a deluxe special edition from the good people at Shout! Factory.

The Sutphin family lives a quiet life in their little corner in the suburbs of Baltimore. Beverly (Kathleen Turner) is a loving housewife with her husband Eugene (Sam Waterston), a dentist, and their two children Chip (Matthew Lillard) and Misty (Ricki Lake). Lurking under the quaint façade of their family life, Beverly Sutphin has a nasty streak. She’s currently harassing her neighbor Dottie Hinkle (Mink Stole) over a stolen parking spot in the past, sending vague threats littered with profanities in the mail and tormenting her with obscene prank phone calls. That’s just the start as Beverly Sutphin begins taking the lives of those who wrong her family or who simply offend her with their boorish behavior. It will make the Sutphin family a media sensation as their suburbanite mother is arrested and placed on trial for a series of ghastly murders.

Serial Mom in a lot of ways is John Waters’ homage to the legendary godfather of gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis. Chip is a horror movie fanatic, and Waters is sure to include a scene where the son along with his girlfriend Birdie (Patricia Dunnock) and friend Scotty (Justin Whalen) are watching Lewis’ classic film Blood Feast. As Beverly Sutphin goes on her murder spree, the film has a number of moments that are seemingly culled straight from the works of Herschell Gordon Lewis, none more explicitly than the murder within a bathroom where her victim’s liver is dangling on the end of a fire poker. This new edition from Shout! Factory features a short documentary where Waters and others discuss the work and legacy of Herschell Gordon Lewis, a fitting inclusion that should give those unaware a bit of extra insight into some of the origins to the wild ideas that Waters has had over the years.

As much fun it is to behold Beverly Sutphin exact her unique brand of politically correct vengeance against those who break her code of manners, there’s probably nothing funnier than her prank calls to Dottie Hinkle. Aside from Divine, Mink Stole was always the best actress in Waters’ close-knit group of friends that would become his stars and she’s masterful as the woman tormented by Sutphin’s obscene calls. All of which culminates in a hilarious scene that revolves around pussy willows, where the demented suburbanite gives away the fact that she’s been making the calls. In the special features it’s obvious that Waters is immensely proud of the scene, discussing how fans present him with pussy willows at screenings and that Boy George has a clip from the scene on his answering machine. Kathleen Turner has also faced similar enthusiasm from fans, confessing that she’s often asked to recite some of the more colorful language from the scene for fans on the street.

John Waters has always given the best audio commentaries, telling hilarious anecdotes and providing interesting factoids about his work. The Shout! Factory edition of Serial Mom doubles the pleasure with two commentary tracks by the infamous writer-director, one of which where he’s joined by Kathleen Turner. On top of that there’s also a lengthy conversation between Waters, Turner, and Mink Stole where they exchange stories about the production, the enduring adoration of the fans, and how the film was rather prescient in its depiction of murderers as celebrities. Waters is right in remarking that Serial Mom predated the trial of O.J. Simpson and the media circus that became, and the film does feature Beverly’s children trying to turn the media circus into an ample payday. Years before, Waters would attend trials as a spectator and wrote about the experiences in his book Shock Value, and obviously he applied everything observed into the frenzied events of the movie while adding aspects of where he saw our society moving towards as criminal trials would become sensationalized in the era of Court TV.

Serial Mom is the finest of John Waters’ movies from the second half of his career and this new Blu-ray gives the movie reverential treatment it deserves. As much fun as I had revisiting this movie and its oddball sensibilities, it struck me with a bit of sadness. John Waters is still in the public eye with speaking engagements and new books but he hasn’t made a movie since 2004’s A Dirty Shame and seems to have no intention of returning to directing any time soon. The style of John Waters is something that is often imitated and never matched, and we could really use his sensibilities in these crazy times. While he may not be making new movies, his classics will endure and thanks to great special editions like Shout! Factory’s Serial Mom. When watching Serial Mom, make sure you’re not wearing white after Labor Day and surround yourself with gorgeous pussy willows from the garden.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Riley Keough
Riley Keough Explains Her Revved Up Work in Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Logan Lucky’

Over the past few years, few actors have had such a...

Brett Gelman Janicza Bravo
Brett Gelman and Janicza Bravo Discuss the Off-Putting Humor Behind ‘Lemon’

The new film Lemon from director Janicza Bravo and co-writer and...

‘Baywatch’ Washes Ashore August 29th

The movie adaptation of Baywatch had everything going for it…casting-wise. You...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
This Week In Gaming News August 12th to 18th 2017

Gaming News will be streamlined into a weekly piece starting next...

Telltale's Batman: The Enemy Within
Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within Episode One Available Now

Define your own Bruce Wayne and reshape The Joker in the...

atgames
AtGames Announces Pre-orders for New Atari 2600 and Sega Genesis

Pre-orders started for the new Atari Flashback 8 Gold and Sega...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
viz
VIZ Media Announces New Digital Manga Content For August Update

VIZ Media details digital manga updates for August highlighted by the...

viz
VIZ Media Announces New Manga and Literary Acquisitions At Anime Expo

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), a premier company in the fields of...

9.0/10
Supergirl Makes Contact in ‘Supergirl Being Super’

Title: Supergirl Being Super #4 Writer: Mariko Tamaki Artist: Joelle Jones...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Ay Caramba!Penny Skateboards Join Up with The Simpson’s

After 30 years, 618 episodes (and counting), 32 Emmy Awards, and...

Sensei 310
SteelSeries Sensei 310 and Rival 310 Gaming Mice

SteelSeries Unveils the First, True 1-to-1 Esports Gaming Mouse Sensor Exclusively...

Alter Ego Release Groot and Deadpool for SDCC

From Alter Ego – Cary, NC: Florida based lifestyle accessories company,...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Mayweather and McGregor Previous Fights Now On Demand on Cable, Plus Interviews, Workouts and More

From iN DEMAND – New York, Aug. 17 – Before the...

Rumble on the Water 2 Delivers Punching Power

July 29, 2017 – Long Beach, CA – The Queen Mary...

UFC Star Jon ‘Bones’ Jones Releases Emoji App – BonesMoji

From BonesMoji – Los Angeles, CA., July 27, 2017 – One...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
CULTURAL JUNK DRAWER SDCC 2017 86.3% TRUE RECAP!

A totally true recap of the most important geek cultural even...

Comics on the Can: Schick Hydrobot and the Transformers

Written by John Barber, Pencils by Steve Kurth, Inks by Juan...

Star Wars Themed Lands Will be the Perfect Safe House for the Rebellion and the First Order

Disney’s D23 Expo has revealed a lot of what is to...

Event News Event Reviews
The Third Annual ‘BeerX’ from 91X in San Diego Featured Sunburns and Beer Goggles

This past Saturday, I attended the 3rd annual BeerX, presented by...

anime film festival
LA-Anime Film Festival Kicks Off to Celebrate 100 Years of Anime Films

Los Angeles Anime Film Festival (LA-AFF), presented by international creative company...

stan lee
Extraordinary: Stan Lee at The Saban Theatre

Comedian, Nerdist CEO, and podcast extraordinaire Chris Hardwick will lead a roster of...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming.

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Lahna Turner’s ‘Limeade’ is a Hilariously Haunting Comedy Album

Many people are roll their eyes at the idea of musical...

Prince’s ‘Deliverance’ Reminds Us of Who We Lost

On Friday, April 21st, it will be one year since we...

Sabroso Fest, How can you go Wrong with Beer, Tacos and Lucha Libre!?!(Photo Gallery)

The Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco and Music Festival sponsored by 95.5...