Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spending some quality time with Serial Mom's Special Edition

Even during these tight financial times,a gal has to splurge a little every now and then on that extra special item she's had her eye on for quite some time now. Since I happened to have a handy dandy gift card on hand,my DVD library will soon be able to include the special edition of Serial Mom in it's listings.

Granted,it's not the most outrageous offering in John Waters' film cannon but Serial Mom is a lot of twisted fun and more sharply satirical than anyone gave it credit upon it's original release back in 1994.

This new DVD edition has a bunch of new commentaries,one of which has Waters and the star of the movie,Kathleen Turner,dishing up some dirt and good times while shooting the film(co-star Sam Waterson was worried that he was somehow endorsing deviant behavior by being in this movie).

For those of you who are wholly unfamiliar with Serial Mom,the story line concerns a seemingly sweet natured suburban wife and mother named Beverly Sutphin(Turner,in one of her best roles,in my opinion)who becomes the target of an investigation into a number of local criminal activities in the neighborhood,such as the harassment of
Dottie Hinkle(Mink Stole)and a couple of mysterious deaths.

Beverly's husband(Waterson) and teen aged children(Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard)refuse to believe that Beverly is a serial killer,at first anyway. Bit by bloody bit starts to pile up and all of the clues reveal the grim truth. Beverly's motives for murder share a similarity with Hannibal Lector,in that they both seek out the rude for slaughter. Beverly wacks people for such good mannerly misdemeanors as stealing a parking space,not flossing your teeth and for one of the customers at her son's video store job,not being kind enough to rewind:

Beverly is busted soon enough after that last murder but not before publicly wiping out a witness to the crime(Scottie, who she never liked anyway,due to his refusal to buckle his seat belt while driving).

The execution takes place at a club called Hammerjacks,featuring the band L7(called Camel Lips in the movie),with the Sutphin family in the crowd. Only they and the cops arriving to arrest Beverly realize that Scottie's demise is not part of the stage show,which is kind of hard to blame them with the band sort of joining in the fatal fry job:

The real fun begins at Beverly's trial,where she insists upon defending herself(particularly when her lawyer ignores her concerns about one of the jurors wearing white shoes after Labor Day-that member of the jury,btw,is played by Patty Hearst)and actress Suzanne Somers watches the proceedings,as research for her new starring performance as Serial Mom in the made for TV movie.

Turns out Beverly is a very clever cookie in the courtroom who could've certainly given Johnnie Cochran a run for his money. Here are some of her best legal maneuvers:



John Waters mixes together a delightfully devilish cocktail of a comedy here,with a 1950's background motif of suburban serenity merging rather comfortably with the modern day lure of media glorified gore and celebrity criminal chic.

Most of the critics at the time Serial Mom came out thought it wasn't saying anything new but mind you, a lot has happened since then in the realm of crime coverage that makes this movie appear to be both ahead of and right in step with it's time. Nice little hat trick there,John Waters.

It is tempting to snatch up the first edition of a movie you like when it arrives on home video,but sometimes it's much better to wait for the best instead of the first. I only wish that one of the features added to the DVD was a sing along version of Daybreak,Beverly's favorite song to flee from the law by. Then again,they might make a Broadway musical version someday and we'll get to see Beverly perform it live on stage(hey,if American Psycho can become a musical,anything's possible,folks!):

1 comment:

Ladytink_534 said...

I've seen bits and pieces of this on to TV but I've never seen the whole thing. I love Matthew Lillard!