MOMMY'S EPITAPH (1987)
posted 02/22/2013

Directed by:
Joseph Merhi

Starring:
Natasha Pavlovich ... Amy Fulton
Delores Nascar ... Martha Fulton
Jimmy Williams ... Forrest Fulton
Flint Keller ... Wayne

Country: USA
Runtime: 94 min
Original title: Epitaph
   
         
     

From Joseph Merhi (MIDNIGHT WARRIOR, CIA CODE NAME: ALEXA), the director of crummy direct-to-video action movies, comes a TV-movie style cheese-fest about a psycho mom and the family that loves her. Despite a low-fi look, this twisty, bloody thriller manages to stand above the other schlock thanks to fairly interesting plotting.

A family of nondescript characters (a mustachioed father, a big-haired, harridan of a wife, a sweet grandmother with a green thumb, and a surly teenage daughter) move into a house and its 5-acre spread. Forrest and Martha, the mom and dad, haven't had sex in a while and daddy-o is getting pissed, but seeing as he's married to Roseanne Barr's nearly identical twin, I don't see how the hell he has any sex drive. The next day, Martha comes on to a painter who is helping them refurbish the house, and he rebukes her advances. This is a bad idea, because she is a fucking maniac apparently and she returns with a butcher knife that she proceeds to plunge into his chest over and over again. When Forrest comes home, he buries the body. Martha tells him the guy tried to rape her, and he sorta buys it. The thing is that this isn't the first time Martha has flown off the handle like this. Martha gives old Forrest a BJ for his troubles. We get to know Amy, the surly teen, now. In her second day at school she meets a frizzy-haired boy named Wayne and they become fast friends. Meanwhile, Forrest goes to see Dr. Lewis, a psychiatrist, to get some help, and she agrees. Amy returns home and tells her grandma that she just met the "best looking-boy in the whole school", which is a gross over-estimation, but hey this whole movie is so covered in a patina of "what-humans-would-say" that it works. What do I mean by that? I mean the lines are cliché and the actors are wooden. If the plot weren't twisty, this would be a solid dud. What twists you ask? Read on, friend!

That night Amy is attacked by what appears to be the bloody ghost of the dead painter and she screams for help. It is revealed subtly that the whole family knows that mom is a killer and the dead painter is common knowledge. A mysterious bloodstain on her pajamas reveals that it may not have been a ghost after all and dad goes to investigate. He goes to dig up the grave of the man, to make sure he hasn't risen somehow...and gets a pick-axe in his back for his troubles by a mysterious figure. Turns out the painter is ALIVE after all, even though his appearance and disappearance in the bathroom was pretty ghostly…but then again so are Michael Myers' appearances. Martha pulls out a double-barreled monster and blows the crazy, vengeance-filled painter guy in half, launching him out a window to boot! This is indeed a nice twist, and now the family has to secretly bury daddy and try to go on with their lives as normal. Dr. Lewis shows up at the house, pretending to be a neighbor, no doubt she is curious what happened to Forrest, but plays dumb to get closer to Martha. Dr. Lewis brings over steaks (!?) and barbecues for grandma and Martha, while they guzzle wine. She asks about Martha's husband, and our chubby maniac concocts a story about their divorce. Martha and Dr. Lewis (who I forgot to mention was a woman) become fast friends and go shopping together. At the mall, a goofy-looking dude that is a cross between Huey Lewis and the Killer Nerd guy (see pic), outs Dr. Lewis as a...well, a doctor, and Martha starts to get suspicious. Later Martha tells her: "I went to your house...and you don't live there. I think you better leave." What the fuck? So ends the friendship

Dr. Lewis comes over one night to talk with Martha, but Martha knocks her out with a pipe. Dr. Lewis awakens bound up like a prison film victim and Martha places a rat in a bucket, then ties it to her stomach, and burns the bucket with a torch to piss the rat off, making it want to escape and dig through the soft tummy of the poor Doc. Needless to say, it works (see pic). Meanwhile, Amy packs and plans to move in with Wayne, but mommy dearest won't let her; locking her up in her bedroom instead. Unfortunately for Amy she has to use the bathroom, but mommy won't let her out so she pees her pants, which is always a pleasant thing. The next day Wayne shows up to see what happened to his gal. Crazy Martha answers the door in lingerie and tries to seduce Wayne, but it doesn't work...because she is gross. Anyway, grandma starts to worry about Amy and begs Martha to allow her to bring the poor, pee-covered girl some food, then one thing leads to another and the movie comes to a predictable conclusion. I won't ruin it here because it was a bit of fun that should be reserved for the viewers only.

I was far more impressed by the script (not the dialog) than anything else in this film. The cast is okay, but very amateurish. The directing is flat and simple. The pacing can be painfully dull. The blood fx and the plot twists are really all there is to write home about, so this isn't a slam dunk as far as coffin ratings go. There really is no reason to watch this film, but if you somehow end up buying a box set of crap horror films and find this in your collection, then it's surprisingly worth a watch.

- Jose Prendes

 

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