Every woman wants to be wanted… just not for Murder One!
Director John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Hairspray) brings his twisted cinematic vision to the seemingly mundane world of suburbia in Serial Mom, an outrageous dark comedy starring Kathleen Turner (Body Heat, Romancing The Stone).
Beverly (Turner) is the perfect happy homemaker. Along with her doting husband Eugene (Sam Waterston) and two children, Misty (Ricki Lake) and Chip (Matthew Lillard), she lives a life straight out of Good Housekeeping. But this nuclear family just might explode when Beverly's fascination with serial killers collides with her ever-so-proper code of ethics – transforming her from middle class mom to mass murderer! Soon, the bodies begin to pile up… and suburbia faces a horror even worse than wearing white after Labor Day.
Featuring appearances by Mink Stole, Suzanne Somers, Traci Lords, and Patty Hearst, Serial Mom is a bloody hilarious tale that's as American as motherhood, the flag, and apple die.
Filmmaker John Waters has given us some amazing films over the years, most of which dabble in the strange, odd, gross-out, and sexual realms of cinema. With films like Multiple Maniacs and Pink Flamingos, you'd think Waters has only one type of style, which is cheap, fast, and depraved. That's not the case at all, as Waters' film resume has some family-friendly or at least close-to-family-friendly projects that would gain a wider audience with all of his hysterical and important satirical issues. I believe Waters has always been ahead of the times with his social and political ideals and statements he injects into his films, whether it be about sexual orientation, gender issues, or religious beliefs; the maestro of schlock always has a great time taking us past our threshold of tolerance, and gives us new approaches to thinking and feeling about certain issues.
John Waters was definitely ahead of curve with his 1994 film Serial Mom, which tackled the odd behavior of the U.S. people and their obsessiveness with true crime and celebrities being put on trial. Serial Mom was released in April of 1994. Two months later, a certain white Bronco with a former NFL star made national news for the next few years (there was even a channel devoted to it 24/7). Being ahead of his time, John Waters brought that angle to Serial Mom along with some additional satire on confronting people for being jerks in everyday life. More recent films like James Gunn's Super and God Bless America have taken on this subject, but not quite in the same fun way as John Waters with Kathleen Turner as Serial Mom.
The film follows the Sutphin family comprised of Beverly (Turner), her husband Eugene (Sam Waterson), and their two kids Misty and Chip (Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard), who live a Leave-It-To-Beaver lifestyle in the white picket fence suburbs of Baltimore. Everything seems quiet, cheesy, and loving in the Sutphin household at first, but we quickly see that Beverly is a brutal serial killer. She doesn't kill for fun though. In keeping in line with films like Super and God Bless America, and dare I say it - Boondock Saints, Beverly kills people who do wrong or are not following the rules or laws. If you don't buckle your seatbelt, you're gonna die. If you're not a good teacher or stand up your date, you're going to die. Even if you wear white after Labor Day, you're going to die by way of some sort of Beverly weapon (including a succulent leg of lamb).
Eventually, Beverly is caught and put on trial, which becomes a media frenzy with celebrities and over-the-top testimony from friends, including Beverly's friend Dottie (Mink Stole), who can't seem to keep it together when Beverly decides to defend herself. Meanwhile, the family knows she should be locked up, but that doesn't stop them from capitalizing on their mother's new fame by selling t-shirts outside the courthouse or setting up interviews with television networks.
It all sounds familiar, doesn't it?
What Waters does so well is make you sympathize and mostly relate to Beverly in some sick sort of way that almost none of us want to admit. We all hate the person who steals your parking space at the last minute, or talks constantly during a movie, or cuts in front of you in a long line. Waters brings up the hilarious thought of actually doing something about it to the extreme. Beverly has two personalities -- one side where she loves her family, puts a smile on her face, and loves singing 'The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow', and another side that is cold, erratic, and murderous, all while wearing a kitchen apron and pearls.
With all of that being said, it's hard not to hate Beverly Sutphin, which Turner just owns in every scene with her emotional changes on a dime. It's very comical and scary at the same time. Serial Mom is a fantastic and sadistic satire on following the rules and our obsessiveness with true crime. As always John Waters proves he is ahead of the game, even with this taboo subject, and makes you fall in love with Beverly despite her "quirks".
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Serial Mom comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc from Scream Factory that is Region A Locked. There is no digital download code or insert of any kind. The cover art is reversible though. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve.
Serial Mom comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This isn't the first time Serial Mom has been released on Blu-ray in the USA, and this Scream Factory Collector's Edition features the same transfer from the previous release. That's not terrible news, though, because the previous transfer was quite good. Detail is fairly sharp and vivid throughout, despite some soft spots peaking out ever so often.
Mostly, though, the detail reveals makeup blemishes, gory wounds, and individual stitching in the suburban clothes. When the leg of lamb is used, you'll be able to see all of the grizzle and spices easily, as well as dirt and grim on cars and weapons. Wide shots look great too, but look somewhat soft in lower light conditions. There is a nice grain present throughout, keeping the movie in its filmic state. Colors look great and well saturated too, but never overly warm or cool. The scene in the white tile bathroom with the super blood red organs looks excellent and simply pops off screen.
There are a lot of warm colors inside the Sutphin household of browns, yellows, and oranges, with exteriors showing great blues and greens. Red definitely stands out as the brightest color for obvious reasons. Black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones are natural. There is some minor video noise, but it's nothing to write home about, leaving this video presentation with very good marks.
This release comes with both a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 and a DTS-HD 2.0 track. Both sound good, but the 5.1 adds a little more immersion from the rear speakers, but not by much. This is indeed a front-heavy track, for the most part, but it's well balanced. Sound effects are robust and full, with some added heft from the bass that kicks in when engines run or when Beverly kills her victims. Knife stabs, glass breaking, and takedowns sound great here with some good directionality.
Ambient noises of people talking the courtroom as well as camera flashes sound good from the rear speakers. The score and music of the film always add to the comedy and silliness of the picture without drowning out other aspects. The dialogue is clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills, leaving this audio presentation with great marks.
All of the extras are from previous releases with the exception of one extra, which has John Waters, Kathleen Turner, and Mink Stole having a talk about the movie.
NEW: In Conversation With Director John Waters, Actress Kathleen Turner and Actress Mink Stole (HD, 35 Mins.) - This is the sole new extra here with the three sitting down on a couch, discussing making the film. It's very funny, light-hearted, and has some great information and anecdotes from the film. A great watch here.
Audio Commentary #1 - John Waters and Kathleen Turner give a fun and informative commentary track here as they discuss each scene. They talk about the script, the satire, the characters, the actors, and working together. It's a great track.
Audio Commentary #2 - This one features just John Waters and has more technical details as well as some more information and his own thoughts on the political and social climate of the film. A great listen as well.
The Making of Serial Mom (SD, 6 Mins.) - This is a promo piece with cast and crew interviews and behind the scenes footage of the film. Standard EPK stuff here from 1994.
Serial Mom: Surreal Moments (HD, 29 Mins.) - John Waters and the entire cast minus Kathleen Turner talk about making the film, the comedy of the story and working with John Waters. Quite fun to see everybody remember the fun shoot.
The Kings Of Gore: Herschel Gordon Lewis and David Friedman (HD, 12 Mins.) - This talks about John Waters' love of the movie Blood Feast, which is in Serial Mom and how it influenced him.
Trailer (HD, 3 Mins.) - Trailer for the film.
Serial Mom is a fun, energetic, violent, and charming film all rolled into one leg of lamb. Waters delivers his famous brand of humor, satire, and wit here with amazing performances by Kathleen Turner and the rest of the cast. This is one film that still holds up and holds true to today's current social climate. John Waters was then and still is now ahead of the curve.
Although this Collector's Edition doesn't feature a new video transfer, it still looks very good and includes a great audio presentation. There is one new extra on this release, with the rest being imported from previous releases, but all are worth watching for sure.
Although Beverly Sutphin would never approve of this Blu-ray or review, it comes Recommended for anyone who has not yet seen the film, for fans who don't already own Serial Mom on Blu-ray, or for John Waters completists.