Originally released on DVD in 2010 only to later turn up as one of several movies on the compilation Backwoods Butchers, 2007’s Mother’s Day Massacre is writer/director Jeff Roenning’s foray into the world of grindhouse cinema. Lewd, crude, and mostly pointless, Mother’s Day Massacre too poor of a film to even get the attention of horror and gore fans and too awful to attract the sensibilities of those who enjoy grindhouse and exploitation cinema, weird horror hybrids with facets of comedy, and the gorehounds who simply enjoy bloody special effects.
The threadbare plot involves a sick dude by the name of Tex (Greg Travis, who enjoys himself), a sexual deviant who has given his wife a venereal disease. The movie opens with this poor open splayed out while her gyno (David Chen in a creepy role) checks out her privates. When she learns what she has, the woman goes off to confront the source, a sleaze whore by the name of Dolores (played to the hilt by Mel Gorham). The confrontation goes bad for the woman when she accidently skalds one of Dolores’ babies. Dolores’ retribution is to beat the poor girl to death with a frying pan.
The movie then moves to the 1990s. Shy but kind Jim (Adam Scarimbolo) is trying to get into the pants of his girlfriend Doreen (Emily Grace) when his dad Tex interrupts. Tex is just a gross excuse for a human being, one who humiliates his son and then hits on his girl while she stands naked in a shower stall. Despite this horrible event, Doreen acquiesces and eight weeks later is pregnant, although this plot point is abandoned for the real plot, which follows.
Doreen and Jim, along with two other couples, head out to find Jim’s mother and to score some free dope (the stuff is supposedly growing in an abandoned field in a ghost town). The six teens are assaulted by a pair of dimwitted hillbillies who like to cut off genitals, eat raw dog, and uses axes to cure the boredom. Three of the teens go down, but the other three make it out.
It turns out that the two Pineys are actually the half-brothers of poor Jim. When the cops confiscate the dope from the field, Dolores demands retribution from Tex, who punches her and tells her to get off his property. Dolores then sends her two sons down to murder Tex and his son, but as usual Tex manages to come out on top. There’s some mopping up, and before you know it, the movie is over.
Although the movie’s opening is pristine grindhouse, down to the lewd gyno (who turns up later as a hypnotherapist who convinces his patients trying to quit smoking that his penis is just a big, thick cigar), the physical lewdness of eyeballing women in compromising positions, and the bad dialogue, the movie as a whole fails to capture the essence of grindhouse fare. There are the usual elements—vomit, frontal nudity, an obsession with penises, and some blood—but the movie skirts much of the gore found in grindhouse gore. There are some good CGI moments in the film, but these moments are fleeting. There’s also an absence of practical effects that would have put the movie over the top.
Although the acting is poor, it is of the quality expected of the genre. The lack of plotting and almost lackadaisical direction are also expected, but the movie does not generate enough tension or provide key payoff moments to satisfy fans who have watched many such films. The adult cast has a ball with the script, but the young people are just too serious for their own good. I also found the obsession with male genitals and urine a bit much, but perhaps the point was to make the audience uncomfortable at times.
Gross and uncomfortable as Mother’s Day Massacre is, the movie fails in evoking the dementia of many other films, from the surprisingly sparse-blood epic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and I Spit on Your Grave to any of the movies made by Herschell Gordon Lewis, Joe D’Amato, and William Lustig. If anything, Mother’s Day Massacre is too retrained for it to make an impression, particularly when it comes to the blood and guts.