• Flesh Eating Mothers (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: January 21st, 2020.
    Director: James Martin
    Cast: Robert Lee Oliver, Donatella Hecht, Neal Rosen, Valorie Hubbard
    Year: 1988
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    Flesh Eating Mothers – Movie Review:

    Roddy Douglas (Louis Homyak) is the Lothario of the New York suburb he calls home, telling his wife that he’s out jogging when in reality he’s slipping it in to all the moms, hot or not so hot, who live in the bungalows surrounding his humble abode. What he doesn’t realize is that his promiscuity has been spreading about a sexually transmitted disease, a rare and heretofore unknown virus that turns Roddy’s sexual conquests into, well, flesh eating mothers. There’s truth in advertising here, folks.

    This ties into an incident that took place sometime before when Commissioner Dixon (Ken Eaton), the local top cop, lost his arm, and his wife, during a random bear attack – or so he says. A cop named Cylde McDormick (Mickey Ross) tells Dr. Lee (Michael Fuer), his pal the coroner, about rumors of foul play. At any rate, all of this ties into a half dozen moms in the neighborhood turning into flesh eating ghouls, devouring babies, teenagers, adults and cats alike. A few of the local kids - Jeff Nathan (Robert Lee Oliver), Linda Douglas (Donatella Hecht), Rinaldi Vivaldo (Neal Rosen), Joyce Shepard (Valorie Hubbard), Frankie Lemmonjello (Tony ReRise) and a few others – team up to save the day, while Lee works behind the scenes with foxy new friend Booty Bernett (Grace Pettijohn) to try and find a cure.

    This one is a lot of fun. Yeah, there are some minor pacing issues in the first half but once the flesh eating mothers start to actually eat flesh we get some pretty solid gore and some surprisingly good makeup effects (the mom’s faces look genuinely weird once they’ve turned!). Some of the humor works well, some is just kind of goofy, but this scrappy little low-budget picture has got heart and that counts for a lot. You can feel the enthusiasm behind the camera and while nobody in the cast is going to win an Oscar, all involved are clearly trying and that’s endearing in a lot of ways.

    The story plays out like a reasonably typical zombie outbreak movie would, but these moms are not zombies even once they turn. They carry on perfectly normal conversations about perfectly normal things, like whether or not one mom forgot to turn off the iron before she left the house. There’s humor here, and it works. There are also the quirky relationships in the film – Joyce shows up at the dance with Frankie but once he gets turned into mom-food, she has no qualms about running off with Jeff. And hey, why shouldn’t the diminutive Dr. Lee get to hang out with tall and foxy Booty? Opposites attract, right? If they can discover a weirdly animated cartoon virus together surely they can conquer loves many challenges!

    It just seems like everyone involved in the making of this one was having a blast doing it. Making a movie is a lot of work, of course, but when that sense of fun shines through in the movie like it does here, it’s hard not to have a good time with it. It’s impossible to take any of it too seriously, even scenes of domestic abuse, but then, you’re not really supposed to.

    Flesh Eating Mothers – Blu-ray Review:

    Flesh Eating Mothers comes to Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome framed at 1.85.1 widescreen newly restored in 2k from ‘16mm archival elements.’ All things considered – the fact that this was shot on 16mm more than thirty years ago with very little money any by a less than super-experienced crew – the transfer looks very strong. Yes, the image is grainy and there are some shots that are just a bit out of focus (clearly how the movie was shot rather than a problem with the transfer) but detail is better than you’d likely ever expect and colors are actually reproduced quite nicely. Compression is never an issue and more importantly, the image always looks like film, never once compromised by any noticeable noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    The 24-bit DTS-HD Mono track sounds decent enough. Dialogue stays clean and clear and the opening and closing theme songs have pretty solid range to them. This is, of course, a single channel track so things are a bit limited in scope, but balance is fine and the track is free of noticeable hiss or distortion. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    The main extra on the disc is a brand-new commentary track with director James Martin, moderated by film historian and author Michael Gingold. It’s fairly scene-specific talk starting with how they shot they intro scene after principal photography had wrapped, how the animated opening credits came to be, how the title changed from ‘Mothers’ to ‘Flesh Eating Mothers,’ getting his start working on Richard W. Haines’ Splatter University, his training as an art student and then as a film student, how and why the film concentrates as much on the parents as the teenage characters, where various locations were found (such as the coroner’s office – which was in a culinary school), casting the film by placing an ad in Back State, how it was a coup to get a Troma vet like Louis Homyak in the film, how producer/cinematographer Harry Eisenstein went on to a big Hollywood career doing effects on A-list pictures, the low budget film boom that was happening at the time this picture was made and quite a bit more. It’s a good track, Gingold keeps Martin engaged and on topic and there’s a lot of great information contained in here.

    Martin also pops up in Blood And Laughs, an interview that runs fifteen-minutes. Here he speaks about getting into the film business a few years earlier when he did some work on Splatter University. Armed with a bit of knowledge about how films are made and the industry works, he wound up both going to Brooklyn College and getting into the film department there and working on I Was A Teenage Zombie, for which he wrote the script. From there we learn about the making of Flesh Eating Mothers, where he got some of the inspiration for the movie from, working humor into the script, decisions he made as to how strong certain content would be in the picture and why he later got out of the film business.

    The disc also contains a featurette called Hungry To Make Movies that interviews producer Peter Ilich for fifteen-minutes. He also speaks about getting into the industry by working on Splatter University, then details how he became affiliated with James Martin, working with him on Flesh Eating Mothers, working to get locations for the film, casting the picture and lots more. He also talks about the film’s distribution history and the legal issues that arose during its initial run on VHS!

    The disc also includes an optional minute-long intro from Martin who speaks briefly about making the film with friends from Brooklyn College and getting it ‘in the can’ for ten grand. Menus and chapter selection are also provided.

    We also get some nice reversible cover sleeve art, however, and the first 2,000 units purchased directly from Vinegar Syndrome get a very nice limited edition, embossed slip cover designed by Earl Kessler Jr.. As this is a combo pack release, a DVD version of the movie taken from the same restoration is also included.

    Flesh Eating Mothers – The Final Word:

    Flesh Eating Mothers offers up exactly what you’d expect from the title, and that’s a good thing! It’s an entertaining low-budget horror comedy with plenty of eighties charm and some surprisingly solid gore effects. It might not but deep, but it is a lot of fun. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release is another strong one, presenting the film in very nice shape and with some interesting extra features that document the film’s history. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Flesh Eating Mothers Blu-ray screen caps!