Color, 1991, 95 mins. 34 secs.
Directed by Patrick Rand
Starring Mark Thomas Miller, Jeanne Bates, Brion James, Mary McDonough, Art Evans, Stella Stevens, Claudia Christian, Maray Ayres
Scorpion Releasing (Blu-ray) (US RA HD), MGM (DVD-R) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)

An Momunusual monster movie that seemed Momto go straight to video in the early '90s even though it technically played a few screens from Vision International, Mom would seem on the surface to be another absurd gore comedy in the vein of Brain Dead, Flesh-Eating Mothers, or Rabid Grannies about killer biddies on a rampage. As it turns out, this is a bit more thoughtful and emotional than you'd expect with some very obvious subtext about the torment of watching a family member transforming due to an affliction against their will, even if it's bloodily preying on random people in this case.

A creepy, yellow-eyed guy named Nestor Duvalier (Blade Runner's James) takes time out from his nocturnal habit of attacking and feeding on single pregnant women (including a briefly seen Claudia Christian) to rent a room at the house of Emily Dwyer (Eraserhead's Bates), whose children range from the devoted TV reporter Clay (Ski School's Miller) to the mostly absent and entitled Carla (Ayres). The new tenant causes some immediate disruptions and alarms Clay as well as his girlfriend, Alice (Mortuary's McDonough), which comes to a head when he realizes that Mom is now infected by the same bloodthirsty condition when she temporarily sprouts sharp fangs and starts chomping down on a hapless victim in an alleyway with Nestor. Clay is finally forced to take action against the intruder in the family kitchen, but that's just the Mombeginning as he now has to confront just how far he's willing to go to protect his dear, hungry mother.

MomA flawed but memorable one for sure, Mom has some jarring shifts in tone throughout but really hits its stride once Clay knuckles down and has a serious crisis of conscience over his mother's escalating need for victims and her rationalizations over how he can start procuring for her. That includes a quirky extended cameo by Stella Stevens as a bar floozy named Beverly ("...and these are my Hills"), which of course comes to a nasty end, and reliable character actor Art Evans (basically reprising his cop role from Fright Night) gets some nice material here and even plays more of a pivotal role in the climax than expected.

First issued on VHS by RCA/Columbia back in the early '90s, Mom went out of circulation for a long time before turning up as one of MGM's DVD-R titles in 2015 with zero extras. Far better is the 2020 Blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing, which comes from what appears to be the same HD scan used for that release but obviously featuring more detail here thanks to the higher resolution. it's worth noting that any scenes involving opticals (like the main titles and the numerous Momdissolves Momthroughout) have a lot of inherent dirt baked in them, so that's just part of the source material. The DTS-HD MA English stereo track (with optional English SDH subtitles) is perfectly serviceable for a straightforward and mostly bland original sound mix. A new audio commentary with one-shot director Patrick Rand is very soft spoken and subdued with a lot of long silent gaps (maybe due to the usual MGM legal pruning), but it's also full of production stories about the casting process, the issues with some of the dialogue delivery, and some last-minute ideas that didn't make the cut. An interview with Ayres (10m16s), who is also an animal trainer and talks about casting that scene-stealing bulldog, Leroy, which ended up nabbing her the role of Carla, a role completely unlike her real personality. Bonus trailers are also included for Night Visitor, Record City, California Dreaming, Hell Camp, and Panga.

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Reviewed on April 1, 2020