John Waters has always been great about featuring the anti-culture of America and showing how charming the anti-nuclear family can be. “Serial Mom” is one of the more mainstream cinematic efforts that feature one of the finest performances from Kathleen Turner. It’s just a shame that “Serial Mom” never knows what kind of movie it wants to be. At times it’s a satire on the phony façade of white bread suburban life, sometimes it’s a satire on the spectacle American can build out of murderers, and other times it’s reminiscent of a classic slasher movie. All we know is that Waters depicts main character Beverly Sutphin as a John Waters character stuck in “Leave it to Beaver.” Sutphin is a happy homemaker who takes pride in her family and preparing good meals and recycling.
She also relishes in her children, both of whom are squeaky clean to a limit, but behind closed doors have their own dark sides. Almost prophetic of “Scream,” a young Matthew Lillard plays Beverly’s horror movie fanatic son who lives for gore films, and garners the attention of his doting mom. Beverly is also a woman who endures her picture perfect life by taking to her own devices, which involves harassing neighbors over the phone and sending them obscene anonymous letters. Beverly suddenly breaks when her son’s math teacher insists that he’s a troubled kid in need of psychiatric help, and viciously runs him down in the school parking lot. Thanks to a witness who watched the entire crime, Beverly goes under investigation by local police who suspect she may be much more dangerous than she lets on.
Along the way, Beverly loses her resistance for the smaller irritants in her life, shaking up her suburb by murdering local neighbors in the most obscene fashions possible. Turner’s performance is pretty fantastic all things considered, as she plays a woman who can be considered a maniacal villain or an anti-hero who is laying waste to the traditional Norman Rockwell image America still perpetuates. Waters slowly reveals that Beverly is nothing but a snake among a den of vipers, as he explores a slew of local characters filled with their own perverse habits and fetishes that make them oh so slimy. Waters has very little respect for the idea of turning the serial killer in to a celebrity and turns “Serial Mom” in to something of a satire of America’s celebrity obsession mid-way.
When Beverly goes on trial for murdering actual people, everyone involved with the case become too enamored with her potential as a tabloid star, and potential big screen heroine, that Beverly manages to come out ahead of everyone, even when she falls prey to her own madness. I don’t know if I’d recommend “Serial Mom” as it’s is not Waters’ best film. He’s contributed much more biting satire in the past. But for a nineties time capsule that derides the glorification of serial killers, it’s serviceable.
The new edition from “Scream! Factory” comes with a brand new poster art, that can be reversed to the original art. The blu-ray features two audio commentaries. There’s one with director John Waters and actress Kathleen Turner, which is carried over from a previous release. There’s also on with John Waters only, which was on the first two DVD releases. “In Conversation With Director John Waters, Actress Kathleen Turner and Actress Mink Stole” is a great thirty minute sit down interview with the director and both actresses, as they discuss the making of the film in depth. There’s some great discussion about fans, the script, and Turner’s personal life, as well as Waters’ own personal philosophy and ideals concerning filmmaking that movie lovers will want to watch.
“The Making Of Serial Mom” is a six minute EPK with looks at the shooting of the film, and interviews with Waters and the cast. “Serial Mom: Surreal Moments” is a thirty minute retrospective documentary from the previous DVD editions featuring interviews with Waters, Stole, Actress Patricia Hearst, Actress Ricki Lake, Actor Matthew Lillard, Casting Director Pat Moran, Production Designer Vincent Peranio and many others sans Turner. “The Kings Of Gore: Herschel Gordon Lewis and David Friedman” is an eleven minute port from the previous release, which explores “Blood Feast” and how it influenced Waters, as well as the history of the film. It’s a neat addition for HG Lewis buffs. Finally, there’s an original theatrical trailer.