Sunday, February 10, 2013

Flesh Eating Mothers (James Aviles Martin, 1988)

I'm kicking myself. And, no, not because I just spent the last twenty or so years languishing in a pathetic state of having not seen Flesh Eating Mothers, but because I just spent the last twenty or so minutes trying to figure what kind of drum machine composer Hayley Moss used to create this film's awesome score. What's so bad about that? I mean, I'm sure lots of people are curious to know what kind of drum machine was used in this film. You're joking, right? They don't care about that. The reason they're here is find out more about that cow print skirt worn by one of the flesh eating mothers. And, get this, I'm not even 100% sure the skirt was cow print. If you listen really carefully you can hear people gasping the world over as I typed that last line. It probably went a little something like this, "I'm not even 100% sure the skirt was cow print." Now, quick, imagine a loud gasp being uttered by ten million people simultaneously right after the words "cow print." Pretty great, eh? Anyway, it looks like... Just a second, you mean to tell me you just spent the last twenty or so years not watching Flesh Eating Mothers? It looks that way. Man, you're so fucking lame. I'm sorry, but there's no other way to put it. Yeah, I'm lame, can I continue? No, you're fucking lame; there's a difference. Okay, I'm fucking lame. Let's move on; there's a skirt print that's yet to be classified. In the grand tradition of Frankenhooker, Psychos In Love, Street Trash, and Slime City (i.e. American horror movies that don't suck ass), Flesh Eating Mothers, directed by James Aviles Martin, is the flesh eating movie that milf lovers have been waiting for. Well, most real milf lovers probably saw the film some time in the late '80s. You, on the other hand, didn't see until some twenty or so years later.
In fact, if I came up to you in, oh, let's say, 1998, and asked you if you had seen Flesh Eating Mothers, you would have stared at me with one of those looks of bewilderment you like to bandy about whenever you're challenged by a superior intellect. Forget about 1998, the same exact thing would have happened in 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2006, and, hell, even in 2010. Yikes! I may be fucking lame, but at least I'm not a fucking asshole.
Now, where was I? I think you were busy being big baby. Just kidding, you rule. I've always wanted see a movie where a couple of crazed flesh eating mothers work together to tear apart a stray cat in order to feed on its entrails. And you know what? Flesh Eating Mothers provided me with that and then some.
After a brief prologue that involves the town's police commissioner, Commissioner Dixon (Ken Eaton), losing an arm and shooting his wife, Elisa (Lori Gustafson), in the face while hunting in the woods, we're treated to a catchy little ditty by Sherri Lamar that promotes the greatness of the suburbs. Boasting lyrics such as "trash is carted away weekly in suburbia," and "nothing can go wrong in suburbia," the song plays over the image of what looks like a child's drawing; one that, like the song, seems to go out of its way to depict the suburbs as some kind of blemish-free utopia.  
You better get used to the sight of Roddy Douglas (Louis Homyak) lying in bed with one milf-tastic woman after another, because that's what he does for a living. Wait a second, that didn't come out right. I didn't mean to imply that it's Roddy job to have hot, throbbing, bed sheet ruining sexual intercourse with the town's milf population. No, what I should have said was that Roddy seems quite adept when it comes to convincing the town's milfy contingent to have sex with him. When we first meet Roddy, he's putting the finishing touches on the well-worn vagina that belongs to Booty Bernett (Grace Pettijohn), a woman whose vaginal wall was in desperate need of a new coat of...don't you dare finish that thought.
I liked the way Flesh Eating Mothers introduces us to its characters at the beginning of the film. It's true, most films use this technique as well, but Flesh Eating Mothers is, nonetheless, doing an excellent job of introducing its characters. Don't believe me? Well then, check this out: Rinaldi Vivaldo (Neal Rosen), a tough kid confined to his room (it looks like he's grounded) is promptly introduced to us. Nice to me you, Rinaldi.
Sticking with the prompt introduction theme, we're suddenly introduced to Officer McDormick (Mickey Ross), who shows up at his ex-wife's house to deliver his child support cheque. Quirky fun-fact: Fans of Goodfellas will probably recognize Officer McDormick's ex-wife as Mrs. Carbone (Marie Michaels). Unfortunately, there isn't word on the street that Martin Scorsese cast Marie based solely on her leggy performance as Officer McDormick's ex-wife in Flesh Eating Mothers.
I don't know about you, but I think it's time we met more of the film's teens. Walking to school, best friends, Linda Douglas (Donatella Hecht) and Joyce Shepard (Valorie Hubbard), bump into Jeff Nathan (Robert Lee Oliver), thanks to a football that was tossed in his general direction by a troublemaker. Since Linda bears the brunt of Jeff's bump, she immediately calls him a spaz. And just like that, three more characters are on board.  
When Linda gets home, we discover that Roddy, the milf enthusiast, is her dad. Do you think Linda's mom, Sylvia Douglas (Katherine Mayfield), knows about her husband's milf obsession? I don't know. But you gotta love Roddy's "Hands Across America" t-shirt. You just gotta.
When we meet the Nolan brothers, Timmy (Terry Hayes) and Johnny (Douglas James), the latter is punching the former in the face in full view of Mrs. Nolan (Ginger Anselmo), their structurally interesting mother. I thought the matter of fact way Johnny punched Timmy in the face perfectly encapsulated the film's darkly comedic tone. To makes things even more absurd, the pummeling is stopped by the sound of an ice cream truck, as the two combatants jump to their  feet to ask their "mommy" for ice cream money.
I also liked how excited they seemed to get when they first hear the ice cream truck, as it's the complete opposite to the way I react when I hear the monotonous din of an ice cream truck's cloying ditty; annoyance mixed with anger are the only flavours I'm interested in when I hear that jingle. "If I had a rocket launcher..."
You know who also likes ice cream? Linda and Joyce, that's who. And not only that, Joyce is dating Frankie Lemmonjello (Tony DeRiso), the ice cream man. Does that mean that Joyce, and, I guess, Linda, get free ice cream? I have no idea. What I do know is that Donatella Hecht's face is a work of art. My mind was trying to juggle a lot of things while it watched Flesh Eating Mothers. But every time Donatella would appear onscreen, my mind seemed to go into anaphylactic shock. While that may sound like a bad thing, it's actually quite healthy. You see, whenever Donatella would show up, my aura would crackle with creativity. There's something about the shape of her face that I found inspirational. Which, I suppose, is the highest compliment you can give someone.
Anyway, her face first came to my attention as its mouth sucked on a Frozen Neptune, one of the many treats available from Frankie's truck.
Some faces, however, don't get fed ice cream or inspire garrulous reprobates, some get beaten. And, no, I'm not talking about the brotherly beating Johnny unleashes on Timmy's face, I'm talking about domestic violence. Now, you can call Flesh Eating Mothers a lot of things: stupid, dumb, idiotic, asinine. But the one thing you can't accuse it of being is: cowardly. Taking on the scourge that is domestic violence in a thoughtful yet straightforward manner, writers James Aviles Martin and Zev Shlasinger don't shy away from the real horrors that lie underneath the rosy facade that is suburbia. The scene where Jeff Nathan's mom, Mrs. Nathan (Grace Gawthrop), cowers on the kitchen floor, after being assaulted by her husband does a pretty effective job of capturing the hellish existence of your average victim of abuse.
The dichotomy between real domestic violence and the exaggerated brand that the flesh eating mothers eventually employ is the film's strongest trait. Which reminds me, this film is about flesh eating mothers. Really? I wouldn't have guessed that. Okay, I'll bite. How do the mothers end up acquiring a taste for human flesh? It's funny you should ask that, because according to Dr. Felicia Dodd (Carolyn Gratsch), the town's most statuesque female physician, there's a virus going around the causes mothers to eat people. You mean to tell me that my mutha could eat my brutha? Exactly. What are the chances of my mutha eating my fatha? Pretty good. Wow.
Quick question: Why are you spelling the words "mother," father," and "brother" that way? Oh, haven't you heard. This flick was shot in Upstate New York. So? Don't you see, that's how they talk up there. The entire exchange between Jeff Nathan, Rinaldi, Timmy, Joyce, and the gorgeous Linda Douglas (whose stunning visage is even more inspirational at night) that revolved around their cannibalistic mothers was hilarious. And it was mainly due to the fact to the way Robert Lee Oliver said, "mutha," "fatha," and "brutha."
How will the teens stop their muthas, I mean, mothers, from laying waste to their once quiet suburban community? It's hard to say, but I have a feeling a statuesque blonde in glasses will be involved somehow (her microscope is filled animated venereal weirdness).
Speaking of words that end in "esque," who else was visibly moved by the crazy-paving-esque patterns on Mrs. Nolan's skirt? Anybody? Nobody, huh. Well, I was moved. Moved, I tell ya. Boasting a mild a slit up the side, Mrs. Nolan's skirt was the talk of the town. And by "town" I mean the fizzy contents sloshing around inside my head. I wonder if Ginger Anselmo (whose character is credited as Mrs. Olson - I'm assuming they meant to say, "Mrs. Nolan") is acutely aware of how foxy she looked in Flesh Eating Mothers. I wonder. No, seriously, her foxiness sort of crept up on me. Even though she's no Donatella Hecht in terms of inspirational attractiveness, I was floored by her loveliness. In all honesty, I was prepared to be floored by Alley Ninestein, the actress who plays Joyce's mother, as she had a Frances Conroy vibe about her. But then Ginger Anselmo came along and managed to bully her way into my heart with her green, short-sleeved sweater and black and white crazy-paving-esque pencil skirt. And just like that I was saying, Alley Ninestein who? 
Whether tearing a chunk out of the arm of the duplicitous Officer Hitchcock (Morty Kleidermacher)–it's a good thing her crazy-paving-esque pencil skirt had a mild slit in it or else she wouldn't have been able to attain the right amount of leverage when it came time to pull the officer's arm out of its socket–or wondering, mid-cannibalistic rampage, if she left the iron on, Ginger Anselmo is an utter delight. And just like Donatella Hecht, she didn't feel the need to appear in anymore movies after making Flesh Eating Mothers. If anyone knows if Ginger and Donatella do the horror convention thing, please let me know, as I would love to meet them so that I could thank them in person for inspiring me in such a profound manner, Donatella for her face and Ginger for her wardrobe and winning personality.

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  1. I enjoyed your review of Flesh Eating Mothers. I was the Cinematographer, Co-Editor and Associate Producer. FYI… Ginger Anselmo was NOT Mrs. Nolan. She was indeed Mrs. Olson as credited. Mrs. Nolan was portrayed by Janice Newman, who for some reason is uncredited on IMDB.

  2. The Drum machine was a Drumulator

  3. The Drum machine was a Drumulator

  4. The Drum machine was a Drumulator