Flesh Eating Mothers (1989)

FEM1

A quiet suburban neighborhood is turned upside down one day when all the nice, normal mothers suddenly start inexplicably deciding that everyone around them looks deliciously yummy. It’s up to a renegade cop, a suspiciously short medical examiner and the all the murderous mothers’ teenage offspring (at least the ones who were smart enough to run away) to find out why these women suddenly went Donner Party on everyone’s asses.

FEM2See, this could have all been avoided if you’d just put the dishes in the dishwasher, but nooooooo…..

Unlike The Hooker Cult Murders, the content of this movie is exactly what the title makes it out to be: Mothers go cray-cray and start eating people. Why are they doing this? Well, turns out it’s the effect of a virus. And how did they get this virus? Why, from an STD, of course!

Yes, turns out Flesh Eating Mothers is a morality tale. This isn’t unusual for zombie-ish films, but instead of trying to make a point about commercialism, or how the lack of communication and cooperation causes collapse, Flesh Eating Mothers’s theme is much more simple: adultery is bad, y’all. And to illustrate the consequences of said adultery the film afflicts all adultresses with the compulsive need to commit yummy infanticide. Why, you may ask, are only the woman affected? Turns out that men are carriers, but the virus only affects women who have bore children. How does the virus knows this? I do not know.

Also, I say ‘men,’ but I should say ‘man’, because like other zombie movies, really the whole thing is caused by one idiot making very poor decisions. In this film that man’s name is Roddy (sigh), and that poor decision would be porking every woman in the neighborhood on the pretext of going for a jog….several times a day….much to his loving wife’s confusion.

FEM3In a movie about mothers eating their young, perhaps the scariest thing the movie proposes is that more than one woman found this dufus attractive.

Yes, Roddy is an unpleasant asshole of the highest caliber and deserves the grim fate he gets by the end of the movie. But just about everyone in this movie is unpleasant and being on top of the asshole totem pole doesn’t mean that everyone below you on the totem pole is any less of an asshole. Most of the women are spiteful, gossipy, cheating alcoholics. The men are either also cheating or wife-beaters. The police commissioner knows what’s going on and is trying to cover it up because…reasons. The police themselves are incompetent. Well, except for that one who keeps murdering civilians, he’s doing a crackerjack job. The doctor’s an arrogant prick who lets the virus spread. There’s a nurse who flagrantly ignores patient confidentiality laws. Then there’s an icecream truck driver with a wandering eye who’s clearly robbing the cradle. And as for the kids….well, okay, most of them are just annoying, dumb teenagers, so I guess I’ll let them slide since they weren’t actively trying to kill everyone.

FEM4For the most part…

Even with all the flagrant flesh eating, the movie does a poor job of actually explaining what the mothers turn into. While they are cannibals, they have little else in common with your typical walking dead. They don’t rot for one, because, well, they’re not actually dead. And since they’re not dead, they don’t lose any of their cognitive abilities. So even when they’re on the way to root around in the trash looking for a cat to eat (not kidding), they’re still going about their day, gossiping about someone, making plans for the next day or complaining about how it sucks to leave the house and forget whether or not you turned the iron off. The only other things the virus does, other than give them the creepy munchies, is grant them super strength (which they use sporadically) and gradually transform them into something that looks like what would result if a comepletly shit-faced Joker had a drunken one-night-stand with a chimp.

FEM5Gah!

Which brings me to the effects. They’re…not great. Even with a body count of 12 (!) there is very little gore, and the really good bit that they did have was saved for the end. Though I will say that the film isn’t a slouch in the blood department. You do see the mothers eat plenty of people, but most of it involves vague movements that suggest they’re eating someone (accompanying slurping sounds and all), rather than them actually eating them. Except when it involves someones arm. These women eat so many arms that I suspect arm mauling temporarily shot up as the main cause of death in this town. I imagine it was the only limb prop the crew could afford. They spent the rest of their money on making a prop head with an unhinged jaw for one of the mothers.

They used it twice.

FEM6

Then there’s the acting….If you can call it that. People don’t really act in this movie, they mostly just spit out their lines. Badly. It’s really not a shock to find out that many of the people involved with this film went on to do little else. For the most part, everyone is either underacting or overacting. And the people who come across as at least putting some effort into it don’t seem to know what they’re doing. The medical examiner, for instance, doesn’t sound like he knew what words to emphasise, so he just emphasises them all and thus constantly sounds like he’s on the verge of shouting. At everyone. All the time.

FEM7Or maybe it’s just repressed anger from being so much shorter than everyone else.

So, did I like Flesh Eating Mothers? Surprisingly, yes. Sure, the acting is atrocious and the sets look only slightly better than your typical community theatre production, but if you couldn’t tell by the title, the whole thing is just meant to be a bunch of campy fun. This is not a movie where everyone was trying to make something awesome and failed miserably. This is a movie where everyone knew exactly what kind of crack film they were producing and they intend for you to be in on the joke. There is an undercurrent of casual misogyny here that I found a bit annoying (that seems to be a theme this year), but for the most part this is just a movie that’s trying to have fun. If you enjoy some campiness with your horror, you could do worse than Flesh Eating Mothers.

Flesh Eating Mothers is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Michi

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