Mother’s Day (1980) follows Abbey, Trina, and Jackie, who were roommates and best friends in college, as they embark on their annual weekend getaway. Each year, one of the girlfriends plans a surprise retreat that requires the other girls to drop everything and set off on a journey to an unknown destination. This year, the trip planner has arranged for them to camp in the wilderness of New Jersey. Things start out swell. The ladies enjoy sisterly banter, skinny-dipping, and ruminating on the way things used to be. But before the girls can even start a pillow fight, they are captured by two backwoods baddies who will do absolutely anything to please their overbearing whack job of a mother. The ladies are then subjected to torture, rape, and bad teeth. After sufficient torment, two of the friends manage to turn the tables on their captors. What follows is one of the most satisfying retribution sequences ever to unfold in a horror film.
Mother’s Day 1980 was shot across the lake from where Friday the 13th was filmed. Both features enjoyed a theatrical release in 1980. Mother’s Day was co-written and directed by Charles Kaufman (brother of Troma Studios founder and president Lloyd Kaufman). Charles did a fantastic job with both co-penning the script and serving as the film’s director.
Mother’s Day is completely different than the majority of titles that Troma produces. It is much less focused on campy overtones and more concerned with character development. It also established sufficient motive for an unforgettable revenge sequence. The production values are remarkably high for a low budget film. Kaufman was able to do a lot with very little. Unfortunately, Charles has since left Hollywood to focus on his bakery business full time. It would have been nice to see him continue on as a filmmaker. He shows a lot of potential with this 1980 feature.
One of the many things Mother’s Day 1980 does exceptionally well is to establish an utterly despicable group of antagonists. There is very little chance that any viewer is going to have any sympathy for the villains when they receive their comeuppance. And that’s exactly how the audience should feel about the antagonists in a revenge horror film. Watching the ladies turn the tables on their captors is extremely gratifying.
The film’s pacing is spot on. It spends the perfect amount of time in each phase of the film. Each scene sets up the next and the flick has the viewer chomping at the bit by the time the finale rolls around.
Mother’s Day 1980 features brutal, cringe-inducing special effects that were pretty top notch for 1980. And even by today’s standards, they aren’t half bad. The television over the head is particularly memorable.
Mother’s Day 1980 is a film that should be in every horror fan’s collection. It has influenced many of the horror titles to come out since its release. It is a brutal, revenge-fueled, good time.
Director(s): Charles Kaufman
Writer(s): Charles Kaufman, Warren Leight
Stars: Nancy Hendrickson, Tiana Pierce, Deborah Luce
Studio/ Production Co: Troma
Length: 91 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Revenge Horror