Dom’s B-Movie Round-Up #26

Mommy (1995)

It’s disheartening that no one has heard of “Mommy.” It’s easily one of the best independent horror films of the 90’s. Personally, I think it trumps “The Blair Witch Project,” but that’s another cinematic appraisal altogether. It’s so obscure that I, an indentured servant to the horror genre, just found out that it has a sequel. How could I not know about the damn sequel? “Mommy 2: Mommy’s Day” is in the mail as I type. I didn’t hesitate to buy it, for “Mommy” was a pleasant surprise. Every once in awhile, I’ll luck into a diamond in the rough, a movie that comminutes my expectations. The incredible thing about this hidden gem is that it’s a shot-on-video production. I hate shot-on-video productions! That’s why I can’t believe that I love this flick.

“Mommy” is an indirect follow-up to 1956’s “The Bad Seed.” In “Seed,” Patty McCormick plays an evil little girl. In “Mommy,” Patty McCormick plays a crazed mother. Stunt casting? Yeah, but it works. McCormick is terrific as the maniacal matriarch. She is theatrically subtle. In other words, she conveys a colorful, exalted ethos without overstating her character’s singularities. I adored Rachel Lemieux as the daughter in denial. Where did this kid come from? She nails every line, and you can see the enthusiasm gushing from her performance. She should have been Dakota Fanning before Dakota Fanning exploded onto the scene.

The weakest link is Brinke Stevens. I understand that “Mommy” needed name value, but couldn’t they have chosen a better actress? Linnea Quigley would have been the ideal candidate to play Beth, the suspicious aunt. Stevens may have looks, but she delivers dialogue like she’s reading the script to herself in private. This isn’t a crucial pratfall, though. I should mention that “Mommy” looks better than any other shot-on-video “film” I’ve seen. Still, I couldn’t pick up on any signs of a budget. The money had to have been disbursed to the cast. There are no special effects, no lavish sets, and no digital touch-ups. Also, there are no reasons why you shouldn’t watch “Mommy” if you consider yourself a credible genre goon.

The Video Dead (1987)

Horror freaks that pride themselves on zombified entertainment are familiar with this title, but for the most part, it’s a little too obscure for my liking. “The Video Dead” concerns a spooky television set that only gets one channel. This station only airs one program. This program is a zombie flick that gives new meaning to the term “interactive.” The undead gut-grinders crawl out of the TV to feast on anyone unfortunate enough to be plopped in front of the baneful boob tube. “Video” was noticeably strung together on an autoschediastic budget. It’s cheap, people. One thing is certain; director Robert Scott wasn’t short on passion or ingenuity.

At times, I was reminded of “Bad Taste” and “Zombie Nightmare.” If you’re just looking for pure, wholesome fun, this is your movie. The pace is fugitive, the make-up effects are impressive (the lead zombie is a bad mofo), and the premise is original, if not flaky. I wasn’t keen on the cast. Rocky Duvall is exasperating as the “gee golly” hero. His high voice raped my last nerve. Roxanna Augesen is cute as the cute girl. She’s cute and she’s also a girl, so I guess she did her job well. As a rule, I’m not a fan of humans, so I didn’t need layered characters to dig this schlockumentary. I did need dead characters, but there are plenty of those. Recommended for fans of “The Dead Next Door,” “Video Violence,” and “Flesh Eating Mothers.”

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