Film Review, Serial Mom (1994), by Sabrina Dersel

I can remember very well the first time I encountered this movie, and never fell out of love of it! It was 1995, the video tape just got to the video club and got brought to my house. For the next hour and a half I was smitten and didn’t move from my chair. Since that time I have seen this movie at least three hundred times; it’s a real obsession!

Imagine: A picture perfect middle class family is shocked when they find out that one of their neighbours is receiving obscene phone calls. The mom (Kathleen Turner) takes slights against her family very personally, and it turns out she is indeed the one harassing the neighbour. As other slights befall her beloved family, the body count begins to increase, and the police get closer to the truth, threatening the family’s picture perfect world.

Serial Mom is a 1994 American dark satire written and directed by John Waters, starring Kathleen Turner as the title character, Sam Waterston as her husband, and Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard as her children. Patty Hearst, Suzanne Somers, Joan Rivers, Traci Lordsand and Brigid Berlin make cameo appearances in the film.

Director John Waters rose to fame in the early 1970s for his transgressive cult films, till his Hollywood success of “Hairspray” in 1988. Throught his career he often uses the same actors and actresses. But the original choice for the lead role was Susan Sarandon, however her asking price was too high for such a low budget film, this is when the formidable Kathleen Turner got involved with the movie.

You might as well recognise Matthew Lillard who plays the son Chip Sutphin, who later went on to be in “Scream 1” and “2” and even the wonderful Kathy Bates, who rose to prominence with her performance in “Misery”, plays a woman outside the courthouse.

Patricia Hearst plays a member of the jury; if you have never come across her name, she is a well known American newspaper heiress, socialite, actress, who was also a kidnap victim, and later was convicted to bank robbery.

She is said to be one of the first known cases of Stockholm Syndrome, which is psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors.

If you are a L7 fan; the American GrungeRock band, you will see them performing on stage as Camel Lips and make quite an interesting use of their alcohol!

This is definitely a movie to watch and maybe have in your collection if it isn’t there already & never underestimate your neighbours…especially the ones who seem to have a perfect life!