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Sick and subversive treat from John Waters
ThrownMuse20 January 2005
Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner) seems to be a typical Betty Crocker suburban housewife. Unfortunately, people are dropping like flies around her! Could this perfect mom be a serial killer?

"Serial Mom" is a ridiculously charming and clever film that never really received the credit it deserved. It is John Waters' best mainstream film, and its tongue-in-cheek portrayal of suburbia, domesticity, the media, and conventional gender roles is delightfully subversive. Kathleen Turner was criminally underrated--this was her best performance to date. The dialogue is hilarious, the murders are wickedly funny, and the overall atmosphere of the film is disturbingly bright and shiny. Co-stars Waters regulars Mink Stole, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, and features a dynamite cameo by grunge goddesses L7. My Rating: 9/10
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Surreal Mom
Eric-12262 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Truly a dark comedy if there ever was one, this film won't be to everyone's taste. I first saw it several years ago on network TV, immediately liked it, but also realized that a fair amount of critical "flavor" had been bleeped out of the movie due to editing it for television. So just recently I purchased the DVD version, which gave me the opportunity to watch it in all its unedited glory.

Kathleen Turner is awesome as mad housewife Beverly Sutphin (where DO they get these names?). I can't think of a modern actress who has such a commanding presence on the screen as Kathleen Turner, and here she uses it to full advantage. I don't know if it's her supreme confidence in the delivery of her lines, or her captivating facial expressions, or just the way she carries herself as a woman not to be trifled with, but somehow she grabs you by the ears and doesn't let go.

There is a goodly dose of carnage in the film, including a particularly gory scene where a guy gets skewered in the men's room with a fireplace poker, resulting in his liver being torn out. But in the capable hands of John Waters, plus the presence of Kathleen Turner in the scene, it all just seems so natural, and perfectly hilarious. Here I couldn't help thinking about the great film "Harold and Maude" (1971), where Bud Cort's character fakes his own suicide various times throughout the film, and by golly, he made suicide actually seem FUNNY! You get the same reaction from "Serial Mom", where Beverly Sutphin's murders come across as being somewhat on the level of laugh-inducing college pranks.

The cinematography is superb, the co-stars (Sam Waterston, Mink Stole, Ricki Lake, Matthew Lillard, Patricia Hearst, Traci Lords, et al) are spot-on well cast, the pacing is excellent, and the film wraps with a very satisfying denouement.

Granted, the film is not for the squeamish, nor for those who are averse to John Waters. But for those who can deal with a whimsical horror film, I would recommend seeing this – and get the DVD version if possible, as the director's commentary by John Waters is worth the rental price. I actually purchased the DVD, as I want this one in my permanent video library. I only wish they would make a sequel. Perhaps, "Serial Mom joins the PTA".
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A kitschy classic
nmoc19 October 2000
An uproariously witty satire on "petty" bourgeois American values, John Waters brings his own distinctive madness to the screen by focussing on cardboard cut-out caricatures of pop culture Americana.

Turning his outrageous gaze on an archetypally perfect housewife and mother from the Baltimore suburbs in Maryland, supportive to her loving husband and teenage kids and possessing a real tlent for cooking, it appears that she is everything a stable, hard-working business man could want. However, there is a slight catch. She is also a serial killer.

Mom's tendency to take bloody revenge on any poor neighbouring housewife who fails to observe her rigid socially acceptable guidelines, like not recycling rubbish or driving too fast, is so barmy you are sure to find it absurdly and darkly funny. Kathleen Turner, alternating between dizzy, unquestioning devotion to her family and clinically cool, yet psychotic anger to offending neighbours, either appears to possess a martyr's yellow halo above her head, denoting divine lightness and freshness, or a focussed smile as she carefully contemplates her next victim.

If you are on the lookout for some perfectly vibrant, yet malicious black comedy, subscribe to "Serial Mom", one of the most ruthless, patronising skits on good manners and nosey, voyeuristic neighbours ever to hit the screen. If you like Waters' latest irreverent venture into visceral, cutting black humour, then get all his other movies, because they are all even more extreme and grotesque - "Pink Flamingos", "Hairspray", "Cry Baby" - all kitschy, underrated classics in their own right.
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Sick, twisted, bizarre, depraved...and a damn good time!
The_Void17 January 2006
I saw Serial Mom for the first time as a fairly young kid, and thought it was pretty good. I've just seen it for the first time as an adult, and it turns out that I'd forgotten just how good this film really is! It's certainly not to everyone's taste, and if you can't handle high camp, you definitely don't want to see this; but if you like your films wild and wicked, Serial Mom is a treat indeed! The film follows a slasher plot line, but it's clear that director John Waters didn't want to merely make a slash flick. The film is a parody of life as a housewife, the media and modern society in general; with a heavy dosage of sick humour and a very unique mean streak running throughout. Serial Mom is the sort of film that puts a smile on your face, and it follows the story of a not quite so normal American mother. While her fellow housewives are cooking dinner and cleaning the house, Beverly R. Sutphin is out dispatching people that have got on hers and her family's nerves in a variety of nasty, yet hilarious, ways. Her kids think it's cool, and her husband is duly worried...

Kathleen Turner takes the lead role, and does an excellent job of performing in a serious, yet jokey way; which does the film no end of favours on the parody front. She looks the part, acts the part...and really, I cant think of a better middle-aged actress to take the lead in this film. The support cast, which includes Matthew Lillard and Ricki Lake, is good; but it's the director that's the real star of the show. John Waters has made a name for himself by creating odd and twisted films, and although I haven't seen a great deal of them; Serial Mom is his best as far as I'm concerned. It's one of those films that constantly make you laugh (providing you've got a sick sense of humour), while poking fun at society and offending all the right people all at once! I love originality in movies, and this really is one unique film. The nineties saw the release of lots of obscure social commentaries that were lost under films like Schindler's List and Fight Club, and Serial Mom, along with Francois Ozon's 'Sitcom', is one of the best 'under the radar' films of the decade. It's not a film that everyone will like, but everyone should see it just in case!
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A delightful, dark comedy
antony-1016 April 2001
This film won't be to everyone's liking, but is certainly an all-time favorite of mine. Only a film like this can combine so many great elements into one entertaining movie.

Kathleen Turner is just purely brilliant as sweet mother Beverly Sutphin, who would look more at home in a show like Bewitched. However, we soon learn that she's not all that she seems. I love any movie that takes a classic element (in this case the innocent housewife) and completely turns it on its head.

And so the film leads us on a journey through Beverly Sutphin's life and motivations. The film grabs on, and doesn't let go, keeping the pace until the very last scene.

In bad taste? Well, yes. Sick humor? Quite often. Good? Oh yes. If you have a dark sense of humor, don't miss it for the world.
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"He killed people, mom". " We all have our bad days".
JamesHitchcock2 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Black comedy can be a difficult genre to get right, in the cinema as well as in the theatre. We can, I am sure, all think of films which were intended to be gross but hilarious and ended up as simply gross. There are too many examples to list them all, but high on my personal list of offenders in this regard must be "The Sweetest Thing", "Beautiful Creatures" and "Drop Dead Gorgeous". On the other hand, when black comedy succeeds, the result can be superb. Two of my favourites are Kubrick's "Dr Strangelove" and Scorsese's "King of Comedy", both of which derive humour from serious subjects (nuclear war and crime) but do so with a brilliant satirical wit.

John Waters's "Serial Mom" is not quite in the same class as those two films, but is one of the better black comedies of recent years. The main character is Beverley Sutphin, a middle-aged, middle-class Middle American housewife. Beverley, happily married to dentist Eugene with two teenage children, Chip and Misty, lives in an affluent, idyllic suburb which looks as though it has been taken from a fifties sit-com. (Like most of Waters's films, this one is set in his home town of Baltimore). There is only one thing which disturbs the peace and tranquillity of the area. Beverley combines her role as a housewife and mother with a part-time career as a serial killer. Her first victim is Paul Stubbins, a teacher who makes some unkind remarks about her son at a PTA meeting, and she progresses to her daughter's unfaithful boyfriend, a couple who are rude about Eugene's dental practice and various people who commit minor social gaffes such as failing to rewind rented video tapes (the film predates the coming of DVD), failing to recycle their garbage, and wearing white shoes after Labor day. (This last is, apparently, regarded as a major fashion crime in America). Eventually she is arrested and put on trial.

Waters has the reputation of being a director to whom the notion of good taste is quite alien, and, with a plot like this, "Serial Mom" could have ended up as nothing more than horribly tasteless garbage. It is, of course, horribly tasteless and not a film to see if you are at all squeamish- Waters does not spare us sight of plenty of blood and gore- but is saved from ending up as garbage by two things. The first is an often very witty script, displaying a refreshingly cynical sense of humour, which includes some great lines such as "He killed people, mom- We all have our bad days". and "Jesus said nothing to condemn capital punishment as he hung on the cross, did he"? (the local priest is preaching a pro-death penalty sermon).

The second is Kathleen Turner's manically over-the-top performance as Beverley, alternating between a model of bourgeois domestic virtue and a bloodthirsty maniac, and playing both with equal relish. My favourite parts were the courtroom scene where Beverley conducts her own defence with great brilliance and the scenes where she makes obscene phone calls to her neighbour Dottie, a woman who can be shocked by a phrase as seemingly innocuous as "Are those pussy willows?" Turner is an actress who has somewhat disappeared from view in recent years, but in the eighties and nineties she was one of Hollywood's best known leading ladies and gave some excellent performances in films like the neo-noir thriller "Body Heat" and "The War of the Roses", another very good black comedy.

Like most good black comedies, "Serial Mom" has some serious points to make. The mores of suburbia have been fair game for satirists ever since the first suburbs were built, and here Waters is sending up the culture of middle-class conformity which all too often attaches to such places. Beverley is far from being the only all-American soccer mom who looks with horrified disfavour on her neighbours' minor deviations from accepted norms; all that distinguishes her from millions of others is the extreme lengths to which she will go to punish such deviations. The satire, however, is not just aimed at Beverley, but also at her victims, some of whom are such obnoxious individuals that it is impossible to have any sympathy for them, despite their horrific fates. There is one grotesque scene where Emma Lou Jensen (she who fails to rewind her videos) sings loudly and tunelessly along to "Tomorrow" from the musical "Annie" while allowing her dog to lick her feet all over suggesting she is, to say the least, a somewhat strange person. Stubbins, who suggests that Chip is in need of "therapy" because of his love of horror films, is the sort of arrogant, self-important teacher who thinks that he is paid not just to teach maths but also to control every aspect of his students' lives, down to their taste in films.

"Serial Mom" may not be the best cinematic satire on suburbia of recent years (that must be Sam Mendes's "American Beauty"), but it is, for all its lapses of taste, a witty and entertaining black comedy. 8/10
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like this movie or serial mom might kill ya
bigwig_thalyi12 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not a John Waters fan by any means but i thought this movie was a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Kathleen Turner plays serial murderess Beverly Sutphin who on the outside is a loving mother but upset her family in any way and she will kill you. Kathleen Turner was great in war of the roses but in this movie she was simply majestic.The way she combined her light side with her dark side was inspired. Some parts of the movie might make you turn your away in disgust and after the dentist scene I will see to it that I never have to go to the dentists again However some parts of the film are absolutely hysterical and during the masturbation scene I had to stop myself having a serious accident i was laughing so hard. Sam Waterston was superb as Beverlys husband and Matthew Lillard and Rikki Lake did a fine job as her children but this was Kathleen Turner's film from start to finish and i cant remember any film in which she has been better The way she manipulates the judge and jury at the end of the film is clever and really ,really funny.By the end you are actually hoping she will get away with it, This film is a masterpiece and deserves only the perfect score 10/10
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Beverly Sutphin is not to be trifled with
dbdumonteil17 July 2004
Imagine this: the main character is a woman called Beverly Sutphin. Her husband is a dentist and she does her best to bring up her children. In short, she is a respectable human being with the particularity of being a real stickler for good manners . Maybe, a little too respectable so that when someone speaks ill of one member of her family, Beverly is ready to kill to defend her family!

Only one filmmaker seemed designated to shot this highly entertaining black comedy: John Waters, the king of bad taste and extravagance. In "Serial Mom", most of the comical situations are structured about the two quoted characteristics. The whole is condensed in one hour and a half. You don't get bored one moment and you honestly laugh in front of all these murders. In "Serial Mom", you also recognize Waters' strong taste for bloody, gore and horror movies. Moreover, for this extraordinary director, it is the occasion to harm the model image of the American family.

All in all, a delightfully politically incorrect comedy led by a Kathleen Turner on top form.
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Love it!
pwgabachito4 August 2004
This movie was offensive, vulgar, shocking, and yes, mean spirited. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't that was John Waters is all about? Kathleen Turner and Sam Waterston do a wonderful job of overacting (badly) in classic Waters fashion. Liver on a fireplace poker? Turner as June Cleaver making obscene and threatening phone calls? Juror 8 (Patty Hearst) wearing white shoes after Labor Day? How can you not love it? This movie ranks up there with Citizen Ruth or Heathers as one of the best black comedies ever. And it also seems to have given some inspiration to Natural Born Killers, the finest of the genre. (Although not nearly as easy to stomach.)
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Thoroughly enjoyable dementia
barleeku12 April 2005
I really enjoyed this movie because Kathleen Turner and John Waters just let loose with the demented psychotic energy of a parent who takes many legitimate parental urges to the next level - or maybe the next 5 levels. She is protective, proactive, and supportive where her family is concerned, just a bit more so than is good for her or the rest of the world. The movie is funny and Turner is superb. The various strategems she uses to distract witnesses at her trial are delivered with the precision of a knife and she does more acting in the defendant's chair than most actors manage in a typical Hollywood flick today. I gave it a 7 rather than something higher because the action around her is okay but delivered more as a set-up for her various exercises in family values, and the plot itself doesn't seem driven by anything other than her proclivities for a particular problem solving approach. But it is a very entertaining film, though I wouldn't watch it with a kid under the age of 15, however jaded by the media today's youths may seem to be.
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laugh till your sides hurt (a little)
mwall12 May 2003
Serial Mom is an absolute gem of a movie. Turner's acting is truly excellant, as is the whole casts. Although a little ridiculous at first, any flaws it has are made up for in the way Beverley carries out her murders, my favourite being the guy in the toilets gruesome demise.
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A Classic
Not2Ghetto42022 January 2003
This movie is one of the best black comedies of all time. Every scene is flawlessly funny, and of course the courtroom scene is phenominal... Kathleen Turner does not let down, I swear to god this movie rocks, especially when your intoxicated
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John Waters at his best
jcdkny12 January 2003
John Waters meets mainstream and the resulta are spectacular! This was Waters' first real studio film-- 13million budget and it really took us where we wanted to go. Kathleen Turner is perfectly cast as Beverly (Serial Mom) and this is the definite must-see for all interested in superbly written comedies!
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I promise I'll use the safety belt, Mom!!
CatRodriguez8 January 2000
This is a really funny film by John Waters (Cry Baby, Polyester, Hairspray) and it's his sickest film. Kathleen Turner plays a sweet and perfect suburbia mom who suddenly decides to kill the people who don't do the right thing (just like bother her kids, not rewinding the rented videos or wearing white shoes after Labour Day). But she's not a complex serial killer: she goes and kill, in the most sordid and hilarious way. KT's performance is great and funny, and the rest of the cast is good.

Rated: 8 out of 10. Hey, don't miss it!!!
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"Give 'er a happy face!And then recycle her!"
EDAsh9419 May 2003
Ever have that day when someone gets on your nerves and you feel like pulling the axe on them?That's exactly what John Waters demonstates in his dark comedy Serial Mom.After starring in the cheesy family movie "House of Cards", Kathleen Turner has created one of the best performances in her life as the beautiful, heroic, misunderstood, law-obeying serial killer Beverly Sutphin.Eversince six murders, she has been placed with some "terribly untrue charges" and the only 'serial' she knows "anything about is Rice Krispies!".But she has good reason for butchering six people: they all commited a crime that no one understands, like dumping her daughter, eating poultry (because Beverly loves birds),smart-alacing about her dentist husband, refusing to rewind a rental tape, critisizing about her family skills, and witnessing one of the other five crimes.You may think she's insane, but really, she's just expressing things we'd rather hide inside of us.Like, say you work in a store and someone wants to return something but they don't have the recipt.It can't be returned without the recipt, so you tell them "No can do".Then they start cursing you out like you're worthless.Wouldn't you get the urge to shove a bullet in their brain?Well then, you now know how Beverly Sutphin feels when someone decides to be a wise guy.This movie is perfect for anyone who loves to laugh.Plus, the DVD contains the theatrical trailer, a behind-the-scenes featurette, several TV spots, four interview clips, and extra behind the scenes footage.I give this one a 10/10!
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Pitch perfect black comedy
Leofwine_draca14 February 2012
SERIAL MOM is one of my all-time favourite black comedies, a genre that's notoriously difficult to get right (I mean, seriously, how many good ones can you think of?). I'm no fan of John Waters - in fact, this is the only film of his I've ever seen - but in this he has created pretty much the perfect antidote to the psycho-thriller genre.

Kathleen Turner bags the role of a lifetime as Beverly R. Sutphin, a seemingly ordinary housewife with a sinister side: she bumps off anybody who crosses her. Add in a quirky family (young 'uns Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard are both particularly funny) and you have the scene set for plenty of unusual and unexpected laughs. The murder scene set to ANNIE is by far my favourite moment and one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

What I like most about SERIAL MOM is the plot. In lesser hands, Turner would have successfully covered up her murders for the film's duration. Not so here - she's discovered, and becomes an unlikely celebrity, basking in her new-found fame. This gives Waters plenty of opportunity for satirising American law and order, fame, celebrity as well as suburban life and the nuclear family. DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES may satirise those kinds of things these days, but SERIAL MOM got there first!
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Murders, Wipes and Pussy Willows
SanTropez_Couch26 February 2003
This is my first John Waters film and I think I've got a good handle on his style of filmmaking. He's a sort of campy, joyful and irreverent filmmaker. He's not too much of a serious artist -- at least not from what I can tell here -- but he's a heck of an entertainer. He is, well, a master of schlock. He's nowhere near as creative as the Coen brothers and not as uproariously funny as the Farrelly brothers, but we're almost in a state of awe watching the movie, smiling, but wondering if we should be when an overly-sweet, caring mother beats a woman to death with a leg of lamb. Thing is, it never seems bad -- it's not even morally reprehensible the way Waters shows it. It's like when you've just watched a gag in extremely poor taste done pleasantly with such giddy amusement that you just shake your head and say, "That is just wrong!"

Kathleen Turner plays the mother who, underneath her thin veil of perfect mother normalcy, has a latent desire to murder those who offend her sensibilities. Sam Waterston plays her husband, a good-natured dentist who stands by his wife as long as he can. It's an interesting pairing of Sam Waterston and Kathleen Turner, two actors blessed with raspy, gasping voices. Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard play the two's children. Lake, the daughter in search of a boyfriend, is the first to suspect her mother's dark side and Lillard, the son with a love for classic gore horror movies, is interested when he's told his mother may be a killer.

It's sort of like a David Lynch movie, if you were to focus only on the "gee whiz" part of America and replace all of Lynch's darkness with campy situations, like a punk rock band called Camel Lips.

A lot of the dialogue and the satirical jabs were pretty obvious, but I wasn't quite sure whether this was just unsubtle comedy or if the joke was in how obvious some of the stuff was ("I made a killing!).

The acting by Turner reminded me of Annette Bening's in "American Beauty," but demented instead of one-note. All the leads are fine, but the big chuckles come from the supporting players like Mink Stole as poor Dottie Hinkle, the victim of a crank caller. Or Patricia Hearst, as a juror who's not in tune with what Turner sees as a fashion faux pas.

I had a big smile plastered on my face for about the first half-hour, which is the best part of the movie, and while the last half-hour loses some steam, it's still a joy to watch Turner and especially Mink Stole. It's not really a criticism, though -- most movies start with a great premise and have trouble resolving it. It's not so much that there's no satisfying resolution, it's that some of the more shocking moments come in the beginning and middle of the film.

The best way I can think to describe the movie is that it exists in a realistic place populated by unrealistic characters. It's a satirical, farcical black comedy that, despite its gruesome murders, is perpetually cheery and without a trace of mean-spiritedness. (Any modern movie that still uses wipes for editing...) With no pun intended (well, maybe some), it's a movie definition of "queer."

I think I'll have to go look for "Cry-Baby" and "Hairspray" now. And if I can find it (and be able to stomach it), I probably owe it to myself to see "Pink Flamingos," which may help me understand the "filth" label Waters is often given. This movie isn't filthy or vile; I had a good time and it's a nice break to see a movie as demented as this and not feel as if you were just subjected to watching a director stomp on someone already on the ground.

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You almost feel dirty watching it
Booster-520 November 1999
While I really liked both plot and storyline, the satire mixed with random acts of violence makes it almost sort of dirty watching it and makes you sort of say, "actually that was sort of funny". Any which way though, I gave this movie a favorable rating. Someday we'll see in lights: George Orwell, Kurt Vonnegut, and whatever twisted writer wrote this movie, cause it was pretty good.
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The only cereal I know is Rice Crispies....
LeathermanCraig8 September 2004
The above is just one of MANY great lines offered up by the cast of 'Serial Mom'.....

The Sutphins seem to be the picture of a normal 50's-esque family - dad (Sam Waterston) is a dentist; mom (a FANTASTIC Kathleen Turner) is a grand house wife homage to Donna Reed, June Cleaver and such; daughter (Rikki Lake) and son (Matthey Lillard) seem to be your average teens with a perfect family life.... Or is it?

Based upon actual real life events, John Waters manages to bring us another great film - and this time - he takes dead aim on the 'celebrity' we make of murderers and criminals....

I'm sure that many of us have gone through our lives, being annoyed by this person or that object and we've never done anything about it.... Not Betty Sutphin.... When this suburban mom goes off - she goes off.... From minor annoyances (white shoes after labor day!) to major anger management issues, Betty takes matters into her own hands - by going on a killing spree - taking 6 victims to an early grave....

Sure, in typical Waters way, it's a bit over the top and corny, but the film is great! Some of the humor is very low brow - in bad taste, but, as Waters mentions in interviews - bad taste can be good taste!

I gave this a 9 - a greatly enjoyable film!
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We all have our bad days...
Rusty-618 August 2000
I am a hardcore John Waters fan, but this is not my favorite film of his. I can't really think of anything I would want to change about it, however, other than maybe setting it in the 50's or 60's so Van Smith could have worked his costume magic. I personally consider this film and Pecker to be his weakest. However, even my least favorite Waters film beats most movies. If another director, say Robert Zemeckis or someone had directed this, then based on the subject matter, I probably wouldn't have had any interest in seeing it. But hey, any movie containing the credits "Written and Directed by John Waters" (in this case, the credit is superimposed over an image of a pulverized fly who has just been swatted by the title character...he always picks the best shots for his credit, doesn't he?) well, I'm there, no matter what the premise is. Waters' films often center on 'troubled' but lovable female characters, and this one is no exception. Kathleen Turner does a great job portraying Beverly Sutphin, a June Cleaver-esque, devoted happy homemaker who doesn't even allow gum in her house, but has a short fuse and keeps a secret scrapbook (I wonder if it was from Waters personal collection) of clippings about serial killers. We don't know how long she's been killing, but the first half of the film follows a week in her life and the various neighbors and acquaintances she dispatches simply because they pi$$ her off. Ever momentarily had an urge to kill someone when they stole a parking spot from you, badmouthed a member of your family, or committed an obvious fashion violation? We don't act on it (well, *I* don't anyway, maybe some of you have and I just don't know about it) but Serial Mom sure does.

Again, only Waters could have pulled this movie and subject matter off. If you're a Waters devotee, then you are well aware that criminal behavior, trials, and serial killers are subjects near and dear to his heart-this is a man who is a self-confessed "trial groupie". With any other filmmaker, it could have been boring. Many probably would have been extremely offended by a movie about a lovable serial killer played for laughs (especially those who knew the victim of a violent crime) but the tone of the movie is so light and over-the-top that only people with no sense of humor could think it might condone murder. Who else but Waters could think of a victim being bludgeoned to death with a slab of pork chop (because she made the mistake of not rewinding a movie before she returns it to the video store) while watching a videotape of "Annie"? This is not the funniest Waters movie I've seen, but it has its moments. Among the funniest are the scenes where Beverly torments her neighbor Mink Stole with hilariously obscene phone calls to drive her over the edge. Also very amusing are scenes where Beverly's whitebread manner ("oh honey, the only "serial" I know anything about is Rice Krispies!") contrasts with the horrified stares of her family and neighbors. Turner is best in the moments when she goes from a harmless Donna Reed to Charles Manson within seconds when someone makes the mistake of annoying her- just watch her face. Waters fans should also watch for cameos /small roles by Alan Wendel, Traci Lords, Susan Lowe, Mary Vivian Pearce (I only recognized her from her distinctive voice) and though he doesn't appear in the credits, Waters manages to work in Don Knotts.

This is one of the few Waters films that I rent from time to time rather than own, but it's still lots of fun. I'll take one of Waters less memorable films over a teen slasher flick or anything starring Jean-Claude Van Damme any day of the week.
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My favorite and first John Waters movie
pabald948023 August 2013
I wasn't familiar with director John Waters or dark/black humor-except the Addams Family movies. But since 1993 to the present, I've familiarized myself w/ a lot more. For starters, this was my first movie by JW and one of the first with Kathleen Turner. I first watched this at age 13, so needless to say, I was rather naive then. I've owned it on VHS, DVD(both editions) so obviously, it's one of my favorites. Along with Kathleen Turner, it also stars Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard as their adult kids, and Sam Waterston as a rather goofy husband. Most of the murders look so goofy, you can't possibly take this seriously, but maybe that was the point. Plus, her killing motives are goofy, not to mention ridiculous, although most involved slander of her family, subtle or major. Even after (finally) seeing Pink Flamingos- funny but gross) Cecil B. Demented-talk about bizarre) Cry-baby-some good musical numbers, both versions of Hairspray-both fairly enjoyable to me, and lastly, Pecker is probably my least favorite, Serial Mom remains my all-time favorite John Waters movie, to this day.
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A Good Starting Place for Waters
truemythmedia13 June 2019
I'd never seen a John Waters film, and for whatever reason I'd read about a few of his movies online, and a morbid curiosity had begun to grow inside me. Waters has been dubbed 'The Pope of Trash' by various news outlets and magazines throughout his career, a title that he seems to cherish. From what I've heard, some of his other films feature absolutely disgusting imagery, but somehow his earlier, more crass films still received moderately good reviews. I was intrigued enough to check out his work, but not so intrigued that I wanted to jump right into "Pink Flamingos", so I settled on this movie, one that Waters had called his favorite of his own films on a number of occasions. Unsure of what I'd experience, and, I admit, a touch nervous, I sat down and started my first John Waters film, only to begin laughing almost immediately. If I'm being honest, I really enjoyed this film, far more than I'd imagined I would. In fact, I've already started narrowing down the next Waters' film I want to tackle (not "Pink Flamingos"- I don't know if I'll ever be ready for that). This film, while certainly not for everyone, is a hilarious satirical look at what the tiny things can do to drive one mad.
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Dark Humor, Yes, But......
ccthemovieman-118 April 2006
Is "warped" a good word to describe this film? How about "sick?" Actually, that's what you get with a "dark" comedy, a movie you don't take seriously, a farce and usually fun to watch. It's shocking to hear the language on "mom" (Kathleen Turner) but that's the idea here: shock.

The film is a spoof on serial killers, horror movies and wholesome family values. They particularly make fun of the latter, something filmmakers love to do anyway, being of the unwholesome types they are themselves. As common as their bias is, the film is still unique as Turner plays a female Charles Bronson-like "Death Wish" character by instantly retaliating against anyone who ruffles her feathers and she is fun to watch. I'd still own the movie if they didn't go overboard on the family values trashing. They were probably serious about that part!
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Never laughed so much in my life!
MarkyMark24197812 March 2003
I watched this film for the first time when it came out. I ahve to say I never laughed so much in my life! Especially the 'Abusive Phone Call' and the court case at the end...... If you fancy a really good laugh or are just a Kathleen Turner who really gives this film justice!) fan - this is a MUST!!!!
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Unusual and campy (may contain spoilers)
AllisonLVenezio16 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
In every little picturesque American suburb, there's always the picturesque family: the loving husband/father/breadwinner, the smart daughter, the ambitious son, and the doting wife/mother/homemaker. There's also that dark side of the norm that the Cleavers and Ozzie and Harriet didn't show, and its depicted in this 1994 John Waters film.

Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner) is your typical suburban housewife and mother--she keeps the perfect home, recycles, cooks "the perfect meatloaf,"loves her dentist husband Eugene(Sam Waterston), loves birds, and keeps tabs on her two teenage kids, daughter Misty (Waters mainstay/veteran Ricki Lake) and son Chip (Matthew Lillard, in his breakthrough role). Did I mention she was also a crazy and vengeful woman hellbent on serial killers and killing for vengeful purposes? That's right, she's a serial kiler.

Beverly will do anything for her family, even if it means murdering someone. When someone rubs her the wrong way, she immediately plots revenge on them by killing them. Even if its for the smallest infraction to her, it often results in the brutal slaying of someone who was just brutally honest. There's her son Chip's math teacher, Mr. Stubbins, who says that Chip needs more focus due to his high interest in horror and gore films (Chip's the assistant manager of a video store), Misty's ex-boyfriend Carl, who stood her up, Betty and Ralph Sterner, for no apparent reason, Scotty, (Chip's friend) who just aggravated Beverly, Lu-Ann Hodges, who forgot to rewind the video tape, and Juror #8, who wore "white shoes after Labor Day."(sorry, this may be a spoiler!), not to mention the obscene prank calls to neighbor Dottie Hinkle (they were so bad, I won't even say them here!).

Ok, this is just a strange movie, and when I first saw it two summers ago, I was shocked by it. Not only was it outrageously rediculous, it was almost sickening what this woman would do for revenge. I watched it again last night with my brother (who happens to LOVE this movie) and my best friend (who had never seen it), but for some reason, I was enjoying it (scary thought on my part, since I thought "Hairspray" was strange, and "Crybaby" was almost unwatchable). Kathleen Turner puts on an almost memorable performance for this role (I'm wondering how many cartons of Camel cigarettes she smoked prior to making this film, because her voice is SO HUSKY now!) as the murderous mother. How old were Misty and Chip supposed to be? I knew that Lake and Lillard were both 24 at the time this movie was released, but was Chip only supposed to be in high school? Matthew Lillard certainly looked young enough to be in high school, and we noticed it. What a stretch for Sam Waterston, playing this gullible husband. How much did they pay him to do this, coming from an actor on "Law and Order"?! Whoah, that's guts.

My favorite scenes from this movie are: The prank call scene between Beverly and Dottie, the "Ted Bundy Tape" (oh my god, I cracked up watching this!), the part where Beverly kills Lu-Ann Hodges to the tune of "Tomorrow" from "Annie" (we were crying during this part, it was so funny), the video store scene where Hodges brings in the video without rewinding it, and Chip informs her of the $1 charge for not rewinding, and when he asks her why, she informs him "I didn't FEEL like rewinding!" My brother particularly enjoyed this line, because he works in a video store (and they don't charge for not rewinding!), and the "serial mom" scenes, when Beverly acts out her revenge. I LOVED Matthew Lillard in this film (he is so funny and talented, and this was a great start for him, as he has made some memorable performances!)

This was an unusual movie, and may be too strange for those who don't appreciate campy farce. John Waters has done it again, in typical John Waters fashion, and for some reason, this film works. I couldn't begin to tell you how it works, but it does. This may take two watchings to actually enjoy it, but its not bad, just strange. This acting is decent, and this film is a real scream at times. I recommend this film to any John Waters fan, as it is one of his own creations.

Don't do anything to make Beverly Sutphin mad, you'll pay for it later!
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