Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Imperial Swordsman
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
  Serial Mom Homicidal Homemaker
Year: 1994
Director: John Waters
Stars: Kathleen Turner, Sam Waterston, Ricki Lake, Matthew Lillard, Scott Morgan, Walt MacPherson, Justin Whalin, Patricia Dunnock, Lonnie Horsey, Mink Stole, Mary Jo Catlett, John Badila, Kathy Fannon, Doug Roberts, Traci Lords, Suzanne Somers, Patricia Hearst
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: It's another lovely day in the Sutphin household as they sit down to breakfast that mother Beverly (Kathleen Turner) has prepared for them. They discuss their plans, with dad Eugene (Sam Waterston) going to work as a dentist, daughter Misty (Ricki Lake) being picked up by the man she wants in her life, and son Chip (Matthew Lillard) off to work at the video store, but Beverly has a secret that nobody suspects. She is the one behind the obscene phone calls to Dottie Hinkel (Mink Stole), yet as the police arrive, checking up on the locals, they do not suspect a thing...

This irreverent depiction of the perfect crime had all the trademarks of a John Waters movie, and unlike his previous two efforts, arrived with all the censor-baiting that he had made his name with over the years. It took as its focus the idea that polite, conservative, suburban society was actually a seething hotbed of insanity, as exemplified by Beverly's increasingly maniacal behaviour, but also in the habits of the less, well, less murderous denizens of the area. Beverly is our anti-heroine, throwing caution to the wind to act out on her impulses on those who offend her delicate sensibilities, and Waters backs her all the way.

Although it wouldn't stand up in one of those court cases that the director was fond of attending, if anything Serial Mom was an endorsement of murder, a call for those fed up with life's little irritations to take up arms and bump off the prudes and the busybodies, as well as the exponents of bad manners and those who refused to abide by the simple rules that ensure we all get along. Therefore Beverly not only targets the cad who refuses to take Misty's advances seriously, but also those who jump in to steal parking spaces (as Dottie had) or who don't rewind videotapes they have rented (a plot point which dated fairly quickly).

Indeed, it's only the fact that Waters is purposefully making us laugh that excuses Beverly's behaviour and the point of view that murderers might have a good reason for what they do, that being ridding their lives of those who get on their nerves (according to this spoofy take on the world, anyway). Naturally, such extreme acts approached with such a comically mild tone is what makes this so funny, as if Waters is telling us, come on, everyone feels like killing somebody sometimes, surely? This may well be news to most of us, or let us hope it is, but there are also bits of business that remind us killing is not to be taken lightly.

Even if we are chortling away at Turner's note-perfect rendition of a perfect fifties sitcom housewife gone haywire. So in that way Serial Mom is really pulling in two directions, revelling in the rule breaking while making a less blatant admission that murder is less fun than the movies depict. Beverly starts her spree with the mathematics teacher who tells her on a parents afternoon that he thinks Chip must come from a troubled home because he likes to watch horror movies, no matter that his grades are fine, and this offends her so much that she runs him over with her car, then reverses over him for good measure.

Now feeling as if she can throw off the constraints of society, the population of this middle class Baltimore suburb are picked off one by one, with the police hot on her trail. It all leads up to a sensational trial (of course) where Beverly provides her own defence, and finds that Suzanne Somers wants to play her in the inevitable miniseries, all revelling in low cuture as it flatters the audience into being knowing enough to get the joke. Not quite classic Waters, but whether he points out Jesus Christ was a victim of capital punishment, casts Patricia Hearst as a wayward juror (who doesn't catch on to her misdemeanour), or just shows a Chesty Morgan film being put to proper (if unlikely) use, he was still on form, only more perversely friendly - until the last shot, which reminds one that maybe the subject of murder as entertainment is best left to fiction, as the real thing is far less amusing. Music by Basil Poledouris.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 4174 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


John Waters  (1946 - )

Witty American writer/director, the chief proponent of deliberate bad taste in American films. His early efforts are little more than glorified home movies, including Mondo Trasho and Multiple Maniacs, but with the notorious Pink Flamingos Waters found his cult audience.

Female Trouble and Desperate Living continued in the same vein, while Polyester showed a mellowing of Waters' style. Hairspray was an unexpected hit, followed by Cry-Baby, Serial Mom, Pecker, Cecil B. Demented and A Dirty Shame. Waters often casts the same actors, but Divine was his true superstar.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

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

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M


Last Updated: