Serial Mom (1994)

Serial Mom (1994), written and directed by John Waters.

It seems like it is going to be a one-joke movie, and that's mostly right. The perfect homemaker from the endlessly satirized perfect suburbs is actually a serial killer. Lately she is barely concealing her depredations as she takes out friends, neighbors, teachers, anyone who even slightly annoys her or offends against strict standards of propriety.

She is gleeful in her work and has outstanding sex afterwards.

Waters keeps developing the story and the skit is longer and funnier than I would have imagined. It's supposed to be hilarious, but I would say "amusing". We go through the dawning realization of the truth by family, town and police, to a big chase scene and finally a courtroom segment, which has my favorite bits:

The unfortunate juror with white shoes is played by Patty Hearst. Other cameos are Traci Lords and Bess Armstrong. Suzanne Somers and Joan Rivers appear as themselves.

Waters is not one for subtle humor. I can't claim to be a big fan and I'm not sure what he's about. From his "trash film" period I know I saw Desperate Living (1977). I've always presumed in his purposeful ridiculous offensive-to-everyone work he was trying to be a "message" director, telling people to be less puritanical and judgmental, but I don't know. He says this film is meant to satirize the "true crime" genre and craze for serial killers, but that all of his films are about what "fame" does to people.

Isn't lampooning dull normal suburbia a well-worn path by now? That critique seems to be his base reality and it never gets old for him. I should see his his one-man show This Filthy World (2006); maybe that would explain him.

Score by Basil Poledouris. He is lightly quoting a lot of other film music for ironic effect.

Available on Blu-ray from Shout Factory. Two commentary tracks: Waters and Kathleen Turner in a happy conversation, and Waters alone. He repeats many of the same stories on both tracks.