Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Picture Mommy Dead

PICTURE MOMMY DEAD (1966). Directed by Bert I. Gordon. Starring Don Ameche, Martha Hyer, Susan Gordon, and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Okay, I admit it, I've got a sick sense of humor. Why else would I be reviewing this movie the week before Mother's Day? (It was either this or Paul Leder's I Dismember Mama, but Versatile Video didn't have that one--besides, I'm pretty sure the sick title is all that one has going for it.)
Picture Mommy Dead, on the other hand, is a pretty decent (if somewhat silly) little thriller. Directed by Bert I. Gordon (best known for his giant-monster movies that provided so much MST3K fodder), it stars his daughter Susan as an emotionally disturbed teen, returning home after several years in an institution following the death of her mother (Zsa Zsa Gabor) in a house fire. Her father (Don Ameche) and stepmother (Martha Hyer) attempt to get her settled in and re-adjusted...but who knows when her memory of that fateful night might come back? And then there's the matter of the inheritance, which will go entirely to the daughter on her 25th birthday...if she lives that long.
While the plot frequently gets bogged down in its own convolutions, overall the movie is an enjoyable time-passer with a number of memorable moments and impressive visuals, ranging from the chilling (the fire sequence, a "bleeding" portrait) to the campy (the girl playing with a talking "beatnik" doll).
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
All of the major players turn in strong performances, with Martha Hyer in particular playing it to the hilt as the ruthless gold-digging stepmother. Wendell Corey has an amusing cameo as a grumpy (verging on verbally abusive) lawyer going over the terms of the inheritance. In her surprisingly brief screen time, Zsa Zsa Gabor steals the show simply by BEING Zsa Zsa Gabor...the role is so close to her famous public persona, it leaves you wondering whether or not it could truly be called a "performance."



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