APRIL 14, 2011
I wasn't too far into My Mom's A Werewolf before I realized that it was yet another one of those late 80s comedies that only someone who saw it at a young age (or just has a really lame sense of humor) would still have any appreciation for today. Horror or not, whenever I see one that had passed me by, and still held in high regard by friends, I usually sit there wondering why they found it so amusing. I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about late 80s comedies that really just don't hold up in any way. And I'm a victim of it as well; Christ, I thought Caddyshack II was funny when I was nine, and will still defend it on occasion ("Look at it this way, purple! Look at it this way, gold!").
Luckily, no one has ever defended this movie to me, so I don't have to question their intelligence the next time I see them. I got exactly one laugh out of the entire thing, which is a big problem when the focus is far more skewed towards the comedy than the horror. Plus that one laugh came at the very end of the movie (when our heroine keeps asking a bunch of questions that the cops do not have the answers to, yet when she asks about the size of the Caspian Sea, the cop immediately provides the information), so by then I had totally given up. The rest of the humor was just generic, bland, largely physical comedy, or sitcom style misunderstandings like when the daughter's friend is trying to warn her that a cop has spotted them spying through a window, but misinterprets her attempts to get her attention (and then, adding to the "hilarity", she claims she was looking for a contact lens! HAH!). And at least 20% of the movie consists of Mom making puzzled faces, as she never remembers her werewolf adventures (can't say I blame her, they're not very interesting).
According to the IMDb, the movie's budget was under a million dollars. While it's not impossible to make a good movie for that small amount of money, I really don't think a high-concept style movie like this can work with such minimal resources. You're either working with good actors who aren't being paid enough to give it their all, or bad ones who try too hard to make an impression (which, in this type of movie, means a lot of mugging and frantic hand motions). The FX aren't good enough to impress anyone, the story has no real scope (most of it takes place in their house or uninteresting San Fernando Valley exteriors), and there's really nothing to it beyond what's in the title (which is an actual line in the movie, of course). Mom gets turned, does a couple of kooky things, and her daughter finds a way to make her human again. The end.
There are only two bright spots in the cast. One is John Saxon, who seems to be enjoying himself (it's rare to see him in an actual comedy) as the evil werewolf. He's got reddish eyes and plays him as a James Bond type ladies' man, and while he's not in the movie enough, at least he adds some gravitas to the movie. I was shocked to discover what a long and varied career that Susan Blakely has had, as she's a very bland presence, best used in movies like Over The Top where she spends the entire movie dying in a bed and thus can be forgiven for being so lifeless. The other is a brief cameo by the adorably ditzy Kimmy Robertson, best known as the receptionist at the police station in Twin Peaks. Everyone else... shit, it's only been a few hours and I already forget what most of them look like.
The soundtrack actually does more to impress than the movie. They use Sam the Sham's "Little Red Riding Hood" quite a bit (twice in the first reel!), but that's fine since the song on a loop for 90 minutes would be preferable to the dialogue. I was also surprised to hear a generic cover of J Geil's Fright Night theme - bold choice to remind audiences of a far superior horror comedy. Speaking of other movies being referenced, the daughter's horror-loving friend has a poster of Prime Evil up in her room, which is mad suspect (both films are from Crown International).
Speaking of her, what the hell was up with their Fangoria references? At one point she finds an important bit of information in "Fangoria #43, from 1978". First of all, Fangoria didn't even START until 1979, and issue #43 was the one with the awesome Day of the Dead cover story. If you're going to bother getting the permission to use their magazine, do it right. And if she's some sort of Evil Ed type character (with the Fright Night allusion already established), why doesn't she turn evil? One of the problems with the movie is that Saxon is the only real villain, and you know he's OK until the end, leaving it completely without tension. If you look at Fright Night, American Werewolf, etc - they function as horror movies just as well as comedies. This is a comedy with some minor, generic horror stuff tossed in, and it's a shitty comedy to boot. The only thing even remotely approaching a scare is when Saxon rips off the Beetlejuice "What do you think of THIS?" scene, except (thankfully) we actually get to see the face he's making. Decent design, I must admit.
Well, whatever. There's a reason the movie is now available for 24 cents in budget packs. Also, oddly enough today's my mom's birthday. She is not a werewolf. And she could probably make a better movie than this.
What say you?