Toronto
2 min

No wire hangers ever!

Perfect gifts for your mother

MOTHER-DAUGHTER BONDING. Say you love her with the gift of DVDs. Credit: Xtra files

If your mum is nothing like mine, she loves movies about motherhood gone bad. Well, Sun, May 9 is Mother’s Day and I know three DVDs she’d be thrilled to receive. Each by itself would make a perfect gift. Or screen them all and share a glorious afternoon.



In Roman Polanski’s 1968 masterpiece Rosemary’s Baby, a Manhattan coven hoodwinks Mia Farrow into bearing Satan’s son. Based on an Ira Levin novel, this cheeky take on postpartum dementia is funny, scary, groovy and a feast of brilliant acting (Ruth Gordon won an Oscar as the meddlesome queen witch).



The DVD special features focus on the inspired casting. Current interviews with Polanski, Bob Evans and designer Richard Sylbert reveal how John Cassavetes beat out Robert Redford for the role of Rosemary’s actor-bastard husband (thank God). We learn how Patsy Kelly, Charles Grodin, Ralph Bellamy and the voice of Tony Curtis all ended up joining in the fun. (Something they don’t mention, though, is that Maurice Evans, who plays Rosemary’s friend Hutch, also played Samantha’s warlock father on Bewitched. Coincidence?)



The gem is the 1968 featurette Mia And Roman. Shot on the Rosemary’s Baby set, accompanied by Christopher Komeda’s demonic lullabies and with voice-overs by Farrow and Polanski, this 20-minute documentary is deliciously disturbing. Your mum will love watching a post-India Mia painting “Peace” on the walls, kissing her cat Malcolm and proclaiming, “I’m not a flighty person.”



Visiting the Rosemary’s Baby set one day was Joan Crawford… which takes us to your mum’s second gift. Pauline Kael described Faye Dunaway’s performance in Mommie Dearest as transcending camp. That’s debatable. But Dunaway’s portrayal of alcoholic monster Joan Crawford is, indeed, jaw-droppingly watchable. This 1981 flick is crap, but Dunaway’s crossed eyes make it mesmerizing. (Some people just shouldn’t adopt children.)



There are no extensive extras on the Mommie Dearest DVD, but the scene selections have fun titles. Check out “Gifts For The Orphans,” “Quiet Sundays And Setting Lotion,” “Box Office Poison,” “Rare Meat,” and your mum’s sentimental favorite, “No Wire Hangers… Ever!”



Playing the role of the compassionate headmistress in Mommie Dearest is the sapphire-eyed Priscilla Pointer. In Brian De Palma’s 1976 classic Carrie, Pointer plays mum to real-life daughter Amy Irving. Just before the final credits role, Pino Donaggio’s violins screech Bernard Herrmann-like as Pointer cradles a traumatized Irving in her helpless arms. Ironically, theirs is the healthy mother-daughter relationship in this satiric schlock-fest.



Adapted from the Stephen King novel, Carrie tells the story of a telekinetic wallflower (Sissy Spacek) tormented by her Bible-thumping, sex-maniac mother (Piper Laurie). Laurie hadn’t acted in 13 years when she took on the role of Margaret White and yet she earned an Oscar nomination for creating one of the most quotable characters in camp history. (Not a menstrual cycle goes by that I don’t glare at my dirty pillows and howl, “Eve was weak!”)



The 90 tasty minutes of interviews on the Carrie DVD feature cast members (except John Travolta) relaying their favorite making-of anecdotes. Apparently PJ Soles’ eardrum burst for real in the prom sequence. And Betty Buckley dubbed the voice of the “Creepy Carrie” bicycle boy. And Nancy Allen looks too good these days not to have had work done.



To shed new light on De Palma’s virtuoso directing feats, the creative team is on hand to discuss split screens, fast forwards and all the technical tricks that make sequences like the kitchen showdown so riveting. Hey, speaking of kitchen sequences… let’s hope Sybil is released on DVD in time for Mother’s Day next year.



ROSEMARY’S BABY.

Paramount Home Video.

$17.99.



MOMMIE DEAREST.

Paramount Home Video.

$15.99.



CARRIE.

MGM Home Entertainment.

$17.99.