This is kind of embarrassing but we’re all friends here right? I don’t really have to worry about my horror cred being destroyed anymore as that was pulverized beyond repair when I admitted to bawling at the end of THE BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA. Here is the thing…I once walked out of a movie because I was just too mortified to endure any more. I wasn’t a kid either, I must have been twelve or thirteen at the time. The movie was CHARLES KAUFMAN‘s MOTHER’S DAY and although it no longer has much of an effect on me at all, the truth remains, that movie scared me right out of the theater.
The year was 1980 and my older brother somehow snuck both me and my younger brother into the theater with him. (He either worked there or had a friend that did at the time.) Sneaking into the theater usually worked out fine for me and my little brother (like when we got to see THE BOOGENS) but this time we were both in way over our heads. All was fine at first, three pretty campers out in the woods alone, two crazy hick psychos and their lunatic mother out to get them, it wasn’t worse than anything else we were consuming on vhs on a nearly daily basis. Then suddenly out of the blue MOTHER’S DAY starts getting all weird and twisty with the rape action. Say what you will about FRIDAY THE 13TH‘s Jason Voorhees, he may have had a violent streak but he was always a gentleman.
Keep in mind that at this point I had already seen I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and been rightfully disturbed by but not completely devastated by both. It wasn’t as if I was some Pollyanna or something. I thought I could handle just about anything. MOTHER’S DAY was just so damn perverse though. This wasn’t some SALLY STRUTHERS in A GUN IN THE HOUSE type of deal (yikes, now that I think of it that T.V. movie did a number on me too.) For some reason this particular sexual assault involved dressing the victim up as SHIRLEY TEMPLE, taking Polaroids of her distress and all under the watchful eye of a laughing elderly crone. Sorry folks, lil Unky Lancifer just had to bail! I took as much as I possibly could, looked over to my little brother (poor guy was about ten!) and then we both made a silent agreement that it was time to scram.
I didn’t try to watch MOTHER’S DAY again until I was in my twenties. By that time the movie, although still not a walk in the park, was at least partially redeemed by a clever level of satire that was previously lost to me and the fact that if you stick around you get to the part were revenge is served to the repulsive brothers and their not so sweet mom. So there, now it’s out there. I admit it, I walked out of a movie because it just scared me and horrified me too much to take one other second of it (every subsequent time I’ve walked out a movie it was due to a different emotion-boredom.)
I can’t say MOTHER’S DAY traumatized me for life, but it certainly ruined SHIRLEY TEMPLE movies for me for a long time after.