Tag Archives: Suzanne Somers

Serial Mom-1994

Serial Mom-1994

Director John Waters

Starring Kathleen Turner, Sam Waterston, Ricki Lake

Scott’s Review #1,432

Reviewed July 8, 2024

Grade: A-

Serial Mom (1994) is led by an uproarious performance by Kathleen Turner, in the 1990s still in her cinematic heyday, the latter-day John Waters comedy fires on all cylinders. She wickedly goes full steam ahead in a pulsating performance deliciously deserving of an Oscar nomination.

The film is directed by Waters, known for perverse and gross-out fare like Pink Flamingos (1972) and Female Trouble (1975) so any chance for an Academy Award is laughable.

Though, Serial Mom is much safer than those films choosing slick 1990s mainstream camerawork over raw shots of dogshit on the sidewalk.

Still, Turner hits it out of the park playing a ‘June Cleaver’ character with a murderous dark side.

Beverly Sutphin (Turner) appears to be an unassuming upper-middle-class housewife living with her dentist husband Eugene (Sam Waterston) and their teenage children, Misty (Ricki Lake) and Chip (Matthew Lillard), in suburban Maryland.

She is secretly a serial killer who kills people over trivial slights or offenses like insulting her son or blowing off her daughter. The dastardly mom uses creative weapons like her station wagon and a fire poker to kill her prey.

Serial Mom is strictly for ravenous fans of Waters and I’m not sure it will win any new fans over. But I’ll stress how much of a mainstream affair it is compared to his more dangerous 1970s films.

It pairs well in look and feel with Hairspray from 1988 and both films star Ricki Lake.

Some have referred to it as a slasher film but that would steer it in the horror vein or knife-wielding maniac territory. Beverly isn’t Freddie, Jason, or Michael Meyers. She is fun and does as much damage with a sneer or a smirk as with a weapon.

Beverly is also the type of woman you’d like to be friends with but are terrified of crossing. After all, she kills in the defense of her kids so she’s a good mother with a wicked sense of humor.

When she delights in crank-calling her neighbor Dottie Hinkle (deliciously played by Waters’s regular Mink Stole) to get a rise out of her, we cheer her on.

Later, when charged and sent to trial for her dirty deeds, she fires her attorney and takes over her case amid rabid fan response. Beverly becomes a local hero.

She’s a cinema villain to remember.

Waters is great because he finds the perfect balance of camp and wit to make a smart film not merely a slapstick one. Many cinema comedies don’t work because the laughs feel canned instead of fresh.

The writing and the cast make Serial Mom a winner.

The ridiculous antics and situations Beverly gets involved in make the audience want to know what she does next. Who doesn’t love a well-to-do character who turns sinister? It’s fun to watch a rich suburban town turn into a shit show of high entertainment.

Besides Stole, my favorite supporting actors are Mary Jo Catlett and Matthew Lillard. Catlett has brilliant comic timing as a neighbor, Rosemary, while Lillard was on the cusp of becoming a horror/comedy star with 1996’s Scream.

Regarding cameos, I could have done without the Suzanne Somers cameo playing herself which didn’t land all that funny but Patty Hearst as juror #8 is a winner.

The ‘white shoes after Labor Day’ sequence is hysterical.

Serial Mom (1994) is a cult classic for the ages and on par with most of John Waters earlier, classic raunchy comedies.



Director Peter Yates

Starring Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn

Scott’s Review #660

Reviewed July 7, 2017

Grade: B+

Bullitt (1968) is one of the ultimate “guy movies”, hardly a stretch considering it stars the “regular guy” hero of the time, Steve McQueen.

With his macho, tough-guy persona and his cool, confident swagger, he was a marquee hero during the late 1960s and into the 1970s.

While the film is rife with machismo stereotypes and is not exactly a women’s lib film, it is also a good old-fashioned action thriller with plenty of chase and fight scenes to make most guys  (and some girls) happy.

The story is not too thought-provoking, but the film works as escapist fare and is an example of good late 1960s cinema.

Set in San Francisco, Lieutenant Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) is assigned to watch a Chicago gangster, Johnny Ross, over a long weekend, before the criminal is set to testify against his brother on Monday morning.

Robert Vaughn plays ambitious politician, Walter Chalmers, who is determined to see the case go off without a hitch and see convictions in the organized crime syndicate.

Predictably, the weekend does not go as planned and  Ross is attacked by hitmen. This, in turn,  sets off a cat-and-mouse game of deception and intrigue. As expected, the action is virtually non-stop with many action sequences lighting up the screen.

The plot of Bullitt does not matter and, one does not need to completely understand what is going on to enjoy the film for what it is. The intent of a film like Bullitt is not good story-telling, but rather good action.

This is not meant as a put-down, but rather good, honest critiquing. One can simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the testosterone-laden affair.

Bullitt contains some riveting scenes that raise it above an average, middling, action flick. The muscle car chase involving a then state-of-the-art and flashy Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger is fantastic and one of the high points of the film.

The quick and edgy camera angles as the cars zip down the windy and narrow San Francisco roads make for compelling tension.

Will one of the cars careen off the side of the road or blow up in an explosion? Since one of the cars holds Frank Bullitt and the other car is the bad guy, it is not tough to guess how the sequence will end.

But it’s good fun all the same and well filmed.

The other spectacular sequence is the finale- as Frank and company overtake a busy San Francisco airport in pursuit of a baddie about to board a transcontinental flight, the chase sequence leads them throughout the airport, onto a taxiing plane, and finally onto the runway, as a plane is about to take off.

It is action at its finest and also a treat for the viewer in that it brings us back to airport days, pre-9/11 when airports were just different. The luxurious flight crew, the innocence, and the glamour- all a distant memory.

The scene is such that it shows all of the airport elements- the people, the employees, the airport, and the planes, giving it a slice-of-life feel, circa late 1960’s airport days.

Appealing is the period in which the film is made. 1968, was a great time for film, Bullitt capitalized on the newly liberal use of blood that films were able to show, so in this way, Bullitt is an influential action film.

Dozens of imitators (some admittedly with superior writing) followed, including classics Dirty Harry and The French Connection. These contain the same basic blueprint that Bullitt has.

A negative to Bullitt is the trite way in which women are portrayed. Female characters are written as dutiful nurses, gasping in fear and helplessly running away when an assailant runs rampant in the hospital, praying for a man to save the day.

Or, they are written, in the case of Bullitt’s girlfriend, as a gorgeous yet insignificant character, given a laughable scene in which she questions whether or not she knows Frank after witnessing the violence in his job- hello?

He is in the San Francisco Police Department after all.

Bullitt is a meat-and-potatoes kind of film-making. An early entry into what would become the raw 1970s and the slick formulaic 1980s action genre, the film deserves credit for being at the front of the pack in style and influence.

The story and character development are secondary to other aspects of the film and Bullitt (1968) is just fine as escapism fare.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Sound, Best Film Editing (won)

Magnum Force-1973

Magnum Force-1973

Director Ted Post

Starring Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook

Top 100 Films #87

Scott’s Review #336


Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

The follow-up to the original action thriller to end all action thrillers, Dirty Harry, 1973’s Magnum Force is as good as the original in my opinion but flies under the radar as compared to the acclaimed Harry.

Both films are similar in style and grit, but Magnum Force holds sentimental memories for me, as I remember watching the film countless times on rainy Saturday afternoons as a kid.

The similarities abound between both films as the screenwriter and score are by the same writer and composer, respectively.

Admittedly, Magnum Force is more conventional and less dirty than its predecessor.

Playing not just the same role of Harry Callahan, the grizzled, hard-nosed Inspector from Dirty Harry, but Clint Eastwood also plays him in quite the same manner.

Not one to blow anyone away with his dazzling acting talent, Eastwood is smart to keep to the status quo. The character is tough, and no-nonsense, but has a take-prisoner vulnerability we love and admire.

In this chapter, a syndicate of vigilante cops is taking matters into their own hands by assassinating known criminals who have been let off the hook either by connections or some other form of loophole.

The pattern is for uniformed patrol officers to pull over a criminal for a mundane reason only to shoot and kill them on the side of the road at point-blank range. They deserve it, but are the cops justified in their actions?

The appeal and mystery of the film are that the police officers wear dark helmets that hide their identities from the audience adding a level of intrigue.

The film offers up a moral question- do the criminals get what they deserve, and do the policemen have the right to justify their actions?

Especially relevant is the final thirty minutes of the film, as Harry and the central “villain”, Lieutenant Briggs (Holbrook)  have a standoff and discuss the topic.

Magnum Force is a shoot-’em-up action flick, so this debate is skirted over largely in favor of car chases and fight scenes. But the point can be thought about.

The best sequence of the film is the finale, as Callahan is lured to an abandoned garage and chased by three remaining cops. The big reveal is that Briggs is running the show and as he drives around in his early 1970’s Ford LTD, soon to become battered and weathered, it is a great scene, especially for those who enjoy car chases.

Magnum Force is a no-frills “guy” film, but one done very well and with an interesting, semi-controversial premise.

The film is the 1970s action genre at its very best.

Surprisingly, and to the film’s credit, one can discuss the film after watching it instead of it being a generic, forgettable flick.