HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Assassin
Die, Mommie, Die!
All the Money in the World
Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The
Black Panther
Children's Hour, The
Mayhem
Sphere
Guyver, The
Night School
Loveless
Ragtime
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Wound, The
Scalawag
Let's Get Harry
Girl with Green Eyes
Sunchaser, The
Tom Jones
Downsizing
Defiant Ones, The
Centerfold Girls, The
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The
120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Police Academy 3: Back in Training
Safe Place, A
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Cargo
Entertainer, The
   
 
Newest Articles
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
Hell is a City: Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
Wash All This Scum Off the Streets: Vigilante Movies
   
 
  Picture Mommy Dead Ta-ta, Zsa Zsa!Buy this film here.
Year: 1966
Director: Bert I. Gordon
Stars: Don Ameche, Martha Hyer, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Susan Gordon, Maxwell Reed, Wendell Corey, Signe Hasso, Anna Lee
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Trash
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Three years ago, little Susan Shelley sat singing an eerie lullaby while her mother Jessica (Zsa Zsa Gabor) lay dead on the floor and her bedroom went up in flames. Now teenage Susan (Susan Gordon) is overjoyed when daddy, Edward (Don Ameche) brings her home from convent school, though less happy he has married her former governess, Francine (Martha Hyer). At the family mansion, the still mentally unstable Susan is reunited with cousin Anthony (Maxwell Reed), who bears facial scars from his failed attempt to save Jessica from the fire, and learns from croaky, brutally plainspoken lawyer Mr. Clayborn (Wendell Corey) how while the house now belongs to the government, its luxurious furnishings were bequeathed to her. While Susan has a fortune held in trust till she turns twenty-five, Edward is broke with a greedy young wife to support. If Susan should die or else go completely crazy, the money will be his. If something happens to Edward, the money goes to Anthony.

Struggling to reclaim her sanity, Susan hears voices coming from her stuffed toys and from old portraits shrieking “murderer!” while a creepy beatnik doll croons a familiar lullaby (“The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out. In your stomach and out your mouth…”). She is drawn to a portrait of her mother bearing an expensive necklace that has gone missing. Incidents like an attack from one of Anthony’s pet hawks and the seeming appearance of Jessica’s fiery ghost, trigger repressed memories as Susan tries to recall how her mother really died.

For some reason Bert I. Gordon does not have the same fan-following enjoyed by such contemporaries in the baby-boomer horror stakes as William Castle and Roger Corman. His name is synonymous with big bug monster movies from The Beginning of the End (1957) to the notoriously tacky Empire of the Ants (1977), or else giant people movies like The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) and the delirious Village of the Giants (1965), but Gordon tried his hand at everything from children’s films to sex comedies and the memorable cult cop thriller: The Mad Bomber (1974).

Picture Mommy Dead seems like Gordon’s entry into the “crazy young girl” trend being played with varying degrees of success throughout the Sixties. It is the kind of tacky thriller one can imagine having a large camp following among fans of the ridiculous and overwrought. Every character has a scheme up their sleeve, though the fact they are neither saintly nor wholly deplorable adds a (very) slim layer of complexity. Supporting players Reed, Corey, and Hyer (Oscar nominated for Some Came Running (1958), she married producer Hal B. Wallis) savour screenwriter Robert Sherman’s ripe dialogue, but Don Ameche plays things commendably straight. For the most part anyway.

Though lively with lurid incident, for a thriller this is somewhat low on suspense. Gordon tries to whip up some garishly gothic atmosphere (e.g. cross-cutting close-ups on those chattering toys) that often slides into ludicrous kitsch when Susan shrieks at visitors, attacks mommy’s portrait, or is attacked in bed by an angry hawk. The producer-director cast his own daughter in the leading role. Susan Gordon was a charming child performer in The Five Pennies (1959) and her father’s The Boy and the Pirates (1960) and Tormented (1960). Her presence befits the plot’s queasy, incestuous undertones, but her shrill, whiny performance does little justice to a tricky role. Zsa Zsa Gabor vamps it up onscreen for only a handful of pink-tinted flashbacks, yet still manages to be less than believable as the object of so much love and devotion. It’s a solid time-waster, though charming as camp with a third act murder that spins the plot into a whole other country of madness.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3041 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Bert I. Gordon  (1922 - )

Known as Mister B.I.G., this American writer, director and producer came from advertising to make a host of giant monster movies in the 1950s - King Dinosaur, Beginning of the End, The Cyclops, The Amazing Colossal Man, Earth vs the Spider and War of the Colossal Beast. Attack of the Puppet People featured minituarisation, as a variation.

The 60s saw him make various fantasy and horror movies, such as Tormented, The Magic Sword, Village of the Giants and Picture Mommy Dead. The 1970s only offered two giant monster movies, Food of the Gods and Empire of the Ants, plus horror Necromancy and thriller The Mad Bomber. Subsequent films in the eighties were made with the video market in mind.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
   

 

Last Updated: