Movies for Mother's Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 10, 2015 08:02am | Post a Comment

Mary Cassatt's After the Bath (circa 1901)

The American Mother's Day was invented by Anna Jarvis in 1905, when her own mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Her mother's death proved the inspiration for a holiday and by 1908 others joined her in this macabre celebration.

After five years of dedication to her obsession, Mother's Day was first observed in West Virginia in 1910. Although writing "I love you" on a post-it note would be more meaningful, by the 1920s consumers dutifully purchased pre-made Mother's Day cards from the Hallmark corporation. Disgusted by this perversion of her crazy vision, Jarvis unsuccessfully tried to kill Mother's Day. 

Whatever you do this Mother's Day, please don't spend $17.95 on a Spring Multicolor Floral Infinity Scarf, $24.95 on a Bronze Metal Birdcage Lantern Wall Decoration, or $29.95 on a Coral-inspired Jewelry Tree. Instead, take her on a hike, go for a swim, eat a type of cuisine neither of you've ever had before, go to the ballet... or watch one of these films.

Mother (??, Bong Joon-ho, 2010)

12 Twisted Mother's Day Movies

Posted by Billy Gil, May 9, 2014 09:36am | Post a Comment

Mother’s Day could mean tuning into the latest movie based on a Jane Austen book or rom-com, but that’s no fun. Instead, we've compiled a list of 12 of the most messed-up movies about mothers. Save these to watch for after you’ve hung out with mom.

Mother’s Day (1980)

Let’s start with the one that shares its name with the holiday. The horror film, produced by cult horror kings Troma Entertainment and directedy by Charles Kaufman, got flak at the time of its release for its exploitative aspects, its rape/revenge scenario calling back to I Spit On Your Grave. But since then, its cult has become a substantial enough to warrant a remake produced by Brett Ratner and starring Rebecca De Mornay (star of another screwed-up mom’s movie, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle). “Darlings, you have made your mother very proud,” the deranged mother of two hillbilly punks tells the boys when they bring her a woman to murder. Mom will love this one!


Serial Mom (1994)

Here’s one your mom might actually like, for cathartic reasons. John Waters, the emperor of bad taste, made this relatively mainstream yet still plenty effed up black comedy about a Stepford-ish mom who commits a series of murders in a small town for infractions as slight as stealing a parking spot. Kathleen Turner is awesome as the perfect mom you really hope you don’t piss off, killing with glee in stifling suburbia. Lots of appearances by Waters regulars like Ricki Lake, Mink Stole, Traci Lords and Waters himself, as the voice of Ted Bundy.

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His Mother's Voice: Only God Forgives' Feminism

Posted by Charles Reece, September 2, 2013 06:10am | Post a Comment

"In the beginning, in the uterine night, was the voice, that of the Mother." [p. 74]

That line is from Michel Chion, borrowed from Kaja Silverman's The Acoustic Mirror, since it could easily have served as the epigraph for the psychodynamic plot of Nicolas Refn's Only God Forgives. In Bangkok, Julian (Ryan Gosling), a man-child, is all seething impotency under matriarchal oppression (Crystal, played by Kristin Scott Thomas), yearning to be punished by patriarchal law (Chang, aka the Angel of Vengeance, played by Vithaya Pansringarm). Julian is without a father figure, since he murdered him at Crystal's insistence some time prior to the current story. Her maternal control is a smothering totality that's produced this one son who can't make any decision without mother's approval and his older brother, Billy, who proves his virile independence by brutalizing and killing adolescent prostitutes. The Oedipal theme could hardly be more explicit as she incestuously traces the muscles on Julian's arm or discusses with his dinner date how he has the smaller cock of the two brothers. After Billy is killed at Chang's insistence for the murder of a girl prostitute (the police commander actually makes the father of the girl do the deed), Crystal demands that her surviving son exact familial revenge, regardless of what Billy might've done. This seems to keep with Chion's description of the uterine voice of the mother as an "umbilical net," which he considers "a horrifying expression, since it evokes a cobweb."

Refn expresses this uterine trap through Lynchian styled oneiric cinematography: a voyeuristic camera follows Julian's imaginary wandering down sanguine hallways without an exit. It's not the male gaze that haunts his dreams, however, but his mother's. Despite being trapped in this seemingly endless tunnel, he also desires a reconnection with with the womb as he moves forward, reaching into the darkness. His hope of a maternal reconnection is cutoff when the dream image of Chang, the substitute father, performs symbolic castration with a sword that severs Julian's arm just below the elbow. This is, as Silverman might explain it, a Lacanian version of the Oedipal: the child yearns for an imaginary union with the mother, but the father says, "No," which introduces the kid into the symbolic register where laws, such as moral injunctions, operate. This original 'no' is the law of the father, a symbolic castration that "grounds" (interpretatively retrofits) all future symbolic behavior on a fundamental lack that has removed the child's feeling of being the center of everything -- i.e., that comforting blanket of squishy sonority that surrounded Julian in the womb, before he became old enough to realize what a repressive force his mother is. Thus, he has typical mommy issues, which are made more troubling by the fact that she's a treacherous drug-dealing crime lord.

By substituting the maternal voice for "the word" in John 1:1, Chion associates, as Silverman argues, the former with pure, formless sound while reinforcing the meaningful sound of words with the paternal (the absent father in this case). Although, in terms of origin story, unlike the Bible, he places the maternal voice prior to the paternal word, this hardly makes for a reconsideration of the importance of motherhood in shaping subjectivity, in placing the child into the symbolic order, since "this anteriority implies primitiveness rather than privilege." [p. 75] After the aforementioned dinner where his dick size is ridiculed, his date Mai, a prostitute he regularly hires as his only significant relationship (see Madonna-whore complex), asks why he lets Crystal talk to him like that. He answers, "because she's my mother." The sex Julian pays for doesn't involve ejaculation, only slight arousal by being tied down to a chair while he watches Mai. His only outlets from existential impotence comes in the form of rage: various violent acts and hysterically screaming at Mai the way he'd like to scream at his mother. As Silverman puts it: "Trapped within the suffocating confinement of the mother's voice, the newborn child resembles a prisoner or prey." [p. 75] And from there, predictably, a bunch of online articles decry the film as "misogynist." (How much longer before all countries follow Australia's lead in officially redefining this word as a two-bit synonym for 'sexism'?) But is it? Furthermore, is it even anti-feminist?

Contrary to the tendency in cinema criticized by Silverman where "the discursive potency of the male voice is established by stripping the female voice of all claim to verbal authority," [p. 77] the person doing most of the talking in this movie is Crystal. She controls and manipulates others through her words, by possessing a quicker wit and more commanding voice than all the men around her. Chang, the other pole of authority, is a man of few words. He doesn't have to verbally manipulate anyone since his position as police commander grants him all power he needs over others. When searching for who put a hit on him (i.e., Crystal), he isn't one for Sherlock Holmes' discursive method of deduction, instead preferring the brutal use of sharp metallic objects. Ethically, Crystal might be just as bad or worse, but she certainly fulfills Silverman's goal "to speak about a desire which challenges dominance from within representation and meaning, rather than from the place of a mutely resistant biology or sexual 'essence.'" [p. 124]  How else could she be the only verbally dominating character without being so within the supposedly patriarchal realm of the symbolic, where "representation and meaning" operate? 

Julian's situation isn't all that different from George Toles' take on Psycho's Norman Bates: "The law of the mother is the only law he has ever encountered or complied with." [p. 191] Norman killed his literal mother, but slipped into her skin by dressing like her and adopting her gaze to the degree that anything he does or sees is ultimately being controlled by this imaginary bodily reunion with her. "The tiniest assertion of a male prerogative to stare where he chooses is promptly checked [...] by the unappeasable Puritan matriarch built into his gaze." [p. 192] "Mother Bates" makes Norman feel guilty for looking at a "whore" through his peephole, whereas Crystal reduces Julian's prostitute girlfriend to a "cumbucket." It's the female gaze that follows him through those dreamy red halls. Maybe he requires being tied down while he watches sexual acts to prevent what happened to poor Marion Crane when Norman became aroused. Julian gets his chance to slip into his dead mother's skin, too, quite literally, when he slides his hand into the open wound Chang has sliced into her womb. When he goes to accept his punishment from Chang (limb removal, of course), it seems less like he's finally identified with the patriarchal voice than accepting responsibility for his family's crimes (unlike Norman who is last seen hiding behind the maternal voice). 

I love halloween!!! favorite horror movies of the season ...the exorcist ...psycho ...nightmare on elm street ...halloween!!!

Posted by Brad Schelden, October 28, 2010 01:57pm | Post a Comment

I love this time of year more than anything! I love everything about this Halloween month. I love the pumpkins and the costumes and the traditions. I love how Halloween seems to take over the month of October. But most all, I love all the horror movies! Every year I looked forward to the Halloween specials on TV. The horror movie marathons. The late Elvira movie nights. The midnight screening at the movie theaters. The horror movie remakes that are sometimes not as horrible as you would expect. The newest Saw movie! I also love the special Halloween episodes of my favorite sitcoms. Roseanne did a Halloween episode every year. Roseanne is now long gone but you can still catch it all the time in repeats on TV or you can get all the Halloween episodes together on one DVD. This is one of the many things that I watch every October. I also watch all the old Elvira Movie Macabre movies that were put out on DVD. Now Elvira is back with her show on TV! She looks exactly the same and she is just as funny as ever. Her show is on at midnight on Saturdays. And she was also nice enough to film a little episode of What's In My Bag. It just got put up on the check it out here. I love Elvira and love just hearing that theme music! I remember watching Elvira as a kid late at night. I just thought she was the coolest thing. She for sure was instrumental in my love of horror movies....

There are certain horror movies that I love to watch around Halloween time. I obviously like to watch the Paul Lynde Halloween Special. It is an amazing piece of television history. I watch Mad Monster Party every year as well. The original Halloween movie is still one of my favorites too. It is still scary even after watching it one hundred times! I just love the feel of the first part of the movie -- so brilliant and perfect. The best horror movies came out of the 70s and least, that is my opinion, but I guess it just really depends on what decade you grew up in.

In honor of the season, I present to you my list of my top favorite 30 movies to watch around Halloween...Some of these are guilty pleasures, like Final Destination. Many of them are movies I saw when I was younger that still manage to freak me out. They are all classics, to me at least. They are essential movies that everyone who loves horror movies should see....

Nightmare Before Christmas
Sleepaway Camp

Slumber Party Massacre
Final Destination

Amityville Horror
Friday the 13th
The Omen

The Birds
The Fog
The Thing

Children of the Corn

Dawn of the Dead
Nightmare on Elm Street
The Shining

Rosemary's Baby
The Exorcist
Silence of the Lambs

Many of these films are starting to come out on blu-ray. Both The Exorcist and Psycho are two of my favorites and they both just came out on blu-ray this month! I also just watched House of the Devil for the first time last week. It came out last year but has the feel of a late 70s or early 80s horror movie and it was brilliant. House was just released by Criterion this week. It's a haunted house horror thriller movie from Japan that originally came out in 1977. You can read Kelly's excellent review of it right here. The Slumber Party Massacre 3 DVD set also just came out from Shout Factory. I also highly recommend the new documentary Never Sleep Again. I just finished watching it this morning. It is a new super in-depth documentary about the Nightmare On Elm Street series. I love these movies and it was super fun learning more about the making of all them. It is narrated by Heather Langenkamp and features interviews with most every cast member from all the movies. They really did a great job of tracking everyone down! They even found the hall monitor from the first movie! Hope you all have an awesome Halloween week! I have some movies to go watch now. You can find all the above movies at any of the Amoeba stores. Some are available on our website with special pricing just for you...

Never Sleep Again-Collector's Edition DVD

Exorcist Blu-ray

Psycho 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray

House Blu-ray

Psycho 2

Posted by Job O Brother, April 20, 2007 08:57pm | Post a Comment

               INT. JOB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

               JOB, (early 30's) sits with rapt attention at his computer
               screen. He is watching "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman", a TV
               show from the 1970's that's recently been released on DVD for
               the first time.

               Behind him on the sofa is JOHN GAVIN, not wearing any
               clothes, a hibernating BLACK BEAR and a SPOOKY GHOST.

               John and the Spooky Ghost look bored.

                                   SPOOKY GHOST
                             (to Job)