A Juicy Suburban Serial Killer Who Knows Her Rice Krispies,
This review is from: Serial Mom [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
"Serial Mom," (1994), a gory comic crime caper that's another in director John Waters' wickedly twisted salutes to Baltimore, Maryland, his home town, had been difficult to get for years; it now is available in this deluxe version with some interesting, entertaining commentaries that make it even better worth the price.
First things first: it's very entertaining, but it is, of course, a one-joke movie. That being that title character Beverly R. Sutphin,( played by Kathleen Turner, Peggy Sue Got Married , The War of the Roses , Body Heat ), is a buttoned down 1950s suburban housewife in the June Cleaver mold. Yet she also happens to be, occasionally, a juicy serial killer - -though she claims the only cereal she knows anything about is Rice Krispies. She is portrayed as the last suburbanite you'd want to live near: a woman so obsessed with doing things the right - suburban--way that she kills one neighbour for not separating her recyclables, and another neighboring kid for unceremoniously dumping her daughter. They say, by the way, that Waters' original choice for the part was Susan Sarandon, but she was too expensive: that's just as well, as, anyone who's seen the picture can tell you, Turner made the part her own. Sam Waterston, who would achieve wider recognition as a U.S. President on American television, plays Beverly's husband, Eugene Sutphin, D.D.S. (a gormless dentist). Waters' regular Ricki Lake plays their daughter Misty; Matthew Lillard plays their son Chip. Another Waters' regular, Mink Stole, is along as Dottie Hinkle, another cross-dressed suburban housewife. Former porn queen Traci Lords twinkles, fully-dressed, in a bit part. The closing courtroom scenes are hilarious, as Beverly achieves celebrity defendant mode in her hometown, long before the O.J. Simpson murders and trial. Notorious heiress Patricia Hearst, who was kidnapped by crazed radical left-wingers in the late 1970's, and paid dearly for the privilege, is very funny as Juror #8, the one wearing the white shoes after Labor Day: don't you just love the conversation in which she desperately tries to convince Beverly that fashion has changed its views in that matter? And Suzanne Somers is along playing her usual pixilated self.
The movie's got some of Waters' typical touches: an autographed photo of Charles Manson; an actual Christmas card made and sent by John Wayne Gacy, and his own (Waters' voice) as Ted Bundy's, on a cassette found under Beverly's bed: you see, she collects serial killer memorabilia. And it's time to say now; he's a very good woman's director: even if that woman is a cross-dressed man (see Divine in the director's original Hairspray), which, let's agree, was a wonderful creation of his. In fact, Waters, who recently did a whistle-stop tour, and stopped here -- this is off message as they say, please forgive me -- said he was most proud of two things in regard to HAIRSPRAY. If any local theater or college group decided to do the play, there'd be a part in it for a fat girl; and one for a cross-dresser. The man just loves his twisted sisters, doesn't he? And he's created a fine one here.