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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