Mommy 2: Mommy’s Day (1997)

Welcome to another B-Movie Enema, my dear Enemaniacs!

It’s Mother’s Day weekend here in the United States again. Last year, we celebrated the day as I, a good son, should by covering the killer mother thriller movie from 1995, Mommy. We follow that up again this year with the sequel, Mommy 2: Mommy’s Day. Now, despite it being a considerably lower budget film than the first, let’s talk about how this came to be.

1995’s Mommy was a surprise hit and had a great deal of good reviews, particularly for Patty McCormack in the titular role and young Rachel Lemieux as Mommy’s darling daughter Jessica Ann. I would go so far as to say that the movie works more on Lemieux’s performance than McCormack’s because a great deal of that first film hinged upon us really liking Jessica Ann. Writer/Director Max Allan Collins got the opportunity to make a sequel and he acted upon it. For the most part, the cast returned. The only holdout was Jason Miller who wouldn’t return due to a lowered payday.

Collins returned to Iowa to film the sequel and used an actual Iowan TV personality from KWQC-TV6 to really authenticate the setting. Rachel Lemieux recently became interested in figure skating, so Collins wrote that into the script as well. Sadly, this sequel wasn’t as well received as the first at the time, and a seed of an idea Collins placed into this movie for a third chapter to ultimately redeem McCormack’s character had to be abandoned. But! We should be able to make that decision for ourselves and I’m going to help judge the quality of the film now, 26 years later. This is worthy shit I do for movies that hardly anyone knows.

So… Without further ado, let’s get into Mommy 2!

I do like that the movie’s credits actually begins by telling us the name of the movie is just straight up Mommy’s Day. Not Mommy 2. It’s just Mommy’s Day. I prefer that as the straight title of this movie, but what are you gonna do? We start out in a church, where a lot of scary shit happens, and a children’s choir, something else that’s scary, singing how “every day should be mommy’s day.” Jessica Ann is in this choir.

Now… Just think about that. Just for a second. Humor me, Enemaniacs. Jessica Ann, whose mother was a rampaging monster Karen of all Karens, and someone who murdered fairly easily, is being asked to sing a song about every day being mommy’s day. Now, I want you to think about what her expression is going to be as she’s forced to sing this song while I pontificate on the absurdity of this happening.

Okay, so first, this is church. It’s another case of church forcing people (children in particular) to do bullshit they don’t want to do (like attend). Second, this is fuckin’ Iowa. The biggest city in Iowa has, what… a few dozen people in it? News travels pretty fuckin’ fast if someone’s mother was a deranged psychopath. There’s no way they should be forcing Jessica Ann to sing this song. Okay, fine, maybe this community is thinking that Jessica Ann is a fairly well-adjusted young lady and I’m guessing Aunt Brinke Stevens is now her new Mommy and doing a pretty good job at it. I can buy both of those things because both of those things rang true in the first movie. I would think if they put that music in front of Jessica Ann, no matter how well-adjusted she is or how things maybe have calmed down, this is still a bustling Iowa metropolis of, like, 49 people. Kids are going to treat her weird at school. People are going to see her at the general store and think, and you know they will, “Oh here’s that little girl whose mommy was a fucking killer!” I’d think Jessica Ann could be, like, “Um… Church dudes and dudettes? I’m not into singing this song. Can I, like, ya know… not?”

Then again… It is church so… I’m guessing they told her she would go to hell if she didn’t sing about how wonderful mommies are. Where was I? Oh yeah… Here’s the expression she has while singing this song. What is the one you were expecting her to have?

So Antie Brinke Stevens (Beth) is in the back of the church watching the children’s choir singing. She’s there with her husband, Paul. Beth is not too happy about their afternoon visit to see Mommy at the state pen. She thinks Jessica Ann being essentially forced to do this is wrong. Paul explains that Mommy is going to die today, and she wants to see her daughter, a daughter, we might add, she tried to kill, one last time before the gas chamber. Beth is all about her sister getting the death penalty for trying to hurt Jessica Ann. Paul tries to calm her nerves and reason with her that they won’t have to worry about that anymore after today.

Oh yeah… So Jessica Ann was singing a song about Mommy’s Day on the day she’s going to see her mother one last time before her mother is gassed for murder and attempted murder of Jessica Ann. Jesus the church in this town is fucked up.

At the prison, the psychiatrist is talking to Mickey Spillane (again appearing in this as he did the original as he was Max Allan Collins’ writing mentor). The psychiatrist wants the governor to save Mommy’s life and commute her sentence over a drug that the doc thinks will make Mrs. Sterling a more functional member of society without all the killing and such. Mickey Spillane says the governor is in his lame duck period as he exits his second term and doesn’t want to be remembered in his final months as being the guy who let an attempted child murderer off death row.

That’s… that’s fair.

In her final hour, Mommy’s visiting with Jessica Ann and Beth. She’s apologizing and all that jazz. Now, I do want to say something here. This movie is on an extremely low budget. The first looked like a movie that, at worst, looked either like a made-for-television movie or, at best, a straight-to-video movie. In other words, it looked just below what you’d see from major studios. This movie looks and sounds and is shot very very cheaply. I don’t know anything about film grade or any of that stuff. But there are three things I can spot instantly in this movie. And, no, the images I’m using is coming from a version of this movie I got off YouTube, but it’s not the reason why I think this movie doesn’t look anywhere near as good as the first did. But the first thing about this movie is that it looks like it’s filmed on a consumer grade video camera. That can pass today, but not in the 90s. Second, the lighting is awful. The lighting is all wrong for the camera and film or video stock they are shooting it with. Thirdly, there is a constant ambient hiss in the soundtrack. Whatever is capturing the sound is picking up a lot of ambient gain. It’s something rather common in low budget straight-to-video, but it also separates out the movies like Jack-O and Mommy 2 from those like the first Mommy and some of the deeper Hellraiser sequels in terms of like quality and such.

Anyway, the last thing Mommy tells Jessica Ann before the guard tells her it’s time to go is that she will ALWAYS be with her and not not ever forget that she’s her best friend. It’s… Spooky. Paul explains to Jessica Ann what is going to happen with Mommy. She’s going to be taken to the lethal injection chamber where she’ll essentially get pumped full of that sweet, sweet release that is poison. Jessica Ann knows Mommy did bad things but she doesn’t want her to be killed. Don’t worry, though, Mommy’s not going to get that death sentence after all.

Mommy spots that the man who is going to administer the lethal injection is acting nervously. He ripped his rubber glove as he was putting it on. She spots that maybe this is the first time he’s ever done this. She says it’s hers too. He tells her that it’s best they don’t speak to each other. Just before he injects her, she asks him to stop so she can pray. But, what’s more, she wants her arms freed so she can fold her hands and bow her head so she can pray. He says it’s impossible, but she then she tells him to think about the last request of the condemned as he gets ready for bed.

It’s clear this begging works a little bit on the guard as she looks like she is ready to let her out. The scene crossfades to showing the guard on the floor dead. The door opens and the doctor is being held captive. Mommy asks for a chauffer to escape.

Lt. March, who was played by Jason Miller in the first film, is determined to shoot her to prevent her escape. He does shoot her in the chest under her right arm, but March is removed from the movie by having a stroke (it’s later revealed he’s paralyzed and now a “vegetable”). She’s not killed nor does she get a new date for the injection. Her doctor basically uses this opportunity to work with the new anti-psychotic drug. A year later, she’s had an implant put into her that will automatically release the drug into her bloodstream. It’s also revealed that her doctor and Mommy is having a bit of an affair.

Man… a LOT happens in the course of, like 5 minutes. She convinces the rookie executioner to hesitate. She convinces the world’s worst death row guard release her to pray. She does not get executed again, but instead gets wounded in the escape attempt. Lt. March, her archenemy, has a stroke. A year passes. She gets this implant to use a new anti-psychotic drug to try to release her back into society. She’s released from prison… from DEATH ROW. She’s screwing her doctor.

Not only is that a lot to happen, but none of it makes any damn sense. I guess, in a certain set of ways to build a world where this could happen, it could, well, happen. But talk about skipping over a lot of things and creating a shit ton of loopholes to push the narrative through in order to get Mommy back on the streets so she can be a threat again! It’s truly bad plotting and the timing of it all is bad too.

I digress. Mommy is quite upset because Beth got a court order to prevent her from seeing Jessica Ann. When Dr. Price tries to console her, Mommy is actually crying. I guess her meds are working.

Things are not all that honky dory in Jessica Ann’s life. Beth doesn’t want her to watch an interview Paul is having on local TV because he knew it would not be an easy thing for her to watch. Jessica Ann is getting old enough to have a slight bratty teenager streak in her – likely due to all the crap she had to live through with Mommy. Beth tells her that the court is not allowing Mommy and Jessica Ann to have contact with one another until it’s deemed that Mommy is really doing better. This irritates both sides as Jessica Ann doesn’t like the idea that she’s being barred from her mother and Beth isn’t too keen on Jessica Ann wanting to be in contact with Mommy. It does seem that Beth does go a little hard on Jessica Ann when they argue.

This is all part of Max Allan Collins’ planned third chapter to this series. He purposely wrote in these terse interactions between Beth and Jessica Ann that would eventually lead to Beth going a little psycho and a cured Mommy coming to Jessica Ann’s rescue. That’s a completely wild concept to me. For one, McCormack’s Mommy was written and performed so well in the first movie, and it’s a consistent performance even up through that totally implausible escape from death row. Then, to have a drug basically correct her behavior so well that it would get her freedom from death row and her psychosis basically then being passed to her sister, who was also written and performed very well in the first movie? What is this, Halloween Ends?

Again, I shall digress. Mommy is getting settled into her halfway house. Jessica Ann’s former principal is now helping out at the halfway house. She just stopped by to tell Mommy she’s checking up on her and will be checking up on her. This ends up with a pretty brutal takedown. You see, Majel Barrett from the first movie was a good friend of this kindly little old retiree with the sweetest voice tells Mommy that, oh, of course she’s innocent. She’s always innocent. However, the little old lady cannot wait to see this bitch back on death row where she belongs.

It’s the best moment of the movie bar none.

Alright, so Mommy is back out in public and having to reap the consequences of her past. Paul talks to Beth about how maybe it’s a good idea for Jessica Ann to see Mommy. Beth is still not sure. They talk this over while Jessica Ann practices skating. Beth isn’t so sure it’s a good idea for Jessica Ann to even be doing that. The reason why is because she thinks Jessica Ann is obsessed and that’s, I guess, a problem for her to have an activity like this to fill her days and make her feel good? I dunno.

Anyway, Mommy hides under the bleachers and watches Jessica Ann skate. Dr. Price says that it’s fine that she watched. He thinks it’s a good idea for them to see each other. Yet, he can’t recommend it. It’s only his professional opinion that they would do a great deal of healing for a meeting. He suggests that Mommy give it about six months or so and then have her lawyer raise it to the courts. He moves in for a kiss, but Mommy rebuffs him. She says she just doesn’t feel that way about him anymore. She asks if this will be a problem and Dr. Price says it won’t be, but this dorky doctor looks pretty crushed to me.

Jessica Ann talks to Paul and says that she really wants to see Mommy again, but that Beth won’t allow it. Paul promises to reunite them again. However, he asks Jessica Ann to cut Beth some slack. She’s not really gotten over all that’s happened so if Jessica Ann can be cool, everything will be better.

Jessica Ann is back at the skating rink where she’s now got herself a little skater outfit and seemingly has a coach and everything. So, I guess that’s progressing or the previous scene at the rink was just some in between time practice on her own. Anyway, Mommy is there watching and Jessica Ann sees her and goes over. She tries to tell Mommy that they can’t really talk and it’s not because of anything Beth is doing, but she doesn’t want to get them both in trouble. Mommy asks about how she’s doing in school and how she is. She complements her on her skating skills. It’s a nice little scene. It’s especially well shot with the reflection of Jessica Ann staying in frame next to Mommy’s head as they talk. There’s some quality work here, just done on a super small budget.

It’s eventually broken up by Jessica Ann’s coach who sees Mommy and threatens to report her if she shows back up.

There is something good going on here with Patty McCormack’s performance. There seems to be something of an attempt to show she’s trying to be better and not be a crazy psycho. She’s sweet to Jessica Ann and speaks of her nicely. Even when she’s on death row and not getting that drug pumped into her yet. There’s something at least softer about her performance. She’s not super stern or gives off a vibe that she’s going to snap. She comes off as someone who’s had her wings clipped a bit.

Now, that’s not to say there isn’t something still in her performance that doesn’t look like it’s all a house of cards or anything. It is Patty McCormack still playing the same character she played to perfection one movie ago. Sure, she looks wounded when the old principal lady tells her to rot in hell and she seems broken not being given full access to Jessica Ann, but when she broke things off with Dr. Price, it seemed calculated. When she snaps that Jessica Ann is her daughter to her skating coach, there’s a bit to still fear there.

Aaaaand, it sure does seem like she just killed that coach later that night with the blade of a ice skate while he was working out on the ice after the place closed.

Okay, maybe we don’t see her face. It’s clearly shot in a way that looks like it’s clearly not Patty McCormack. Maybe it’s the way it’s shot to not endanger Patty McCormack on ice in heels. Or… Maybe, just maybe, it’s a ruse. Mommy is brought in to talk to the cops. People claim that because of the interaction earlier between the coach and Mommy, it’s plausible to think she’s a potential suspect. Mommy reminds the lieutenant that she’s got the implant to make her behave. Besides, she was at the rink in the afternoon, but not there at night. It doesn’t really match her typical modus operandi. Dr. Price says that she doesn’t take pleasure in killing. She only removes obstacles as cleanly and quickly as possible. She only later reconciles what happened instead of pre-planning it.

Beth tells Jessica Ann about her coach’s murder. Jessica Ann says she know Mommy didn’t do it. She was just there watching. When Beth brings up the words exchanged between her and the coach, Jessica Ann tries to defend Mommy by saying when she raised her voice, it wasn’t angry. Beth tells her that in no way can she have any contact with Mommy.

Mommy finds Jessica Ann at school the next day. She tells Jessica Ann she didn’t kill her coach. Jessica Ann says she knows because Mommy wouldn’t have stabbed him 100 times… only once… and maybe strangled him. The way she delivers that line is hilarious and brilliant. It’s the second best moment in the movie after the old lady principal telling her to get fucked in the lethal injection room.

Mommy goes on the Paula Sands Show (a real thing in Iowa, but it isn’t the sensational show it’s shown as in this). Mommy talks to the producers. She wants to clear herself of the murder of the ice skating coach. She wants only to tell her part and have a conversation with Paula. The producer promises this and says there won’t be any questions from the audience. Of course, there are questions from the audience. It turns into a Jerry Springer-like circus. They not only let audience members tee off on Mommy, but they also bring out another guest, Jolene Jones, the twin sister of the surprisingly hot school janitor from the first movie, played by the same actress, Sarah Jane Miller, to confront Mommy about all her murderous past. Mommy walks off after throttling the producer and telling him he’s lucky she’s mellowed out.

This movie is wild, man. I think I see what’s going on here. I think Collins is kind of making a statement about how true crime stories are often sensationalized and maybe that people who committed crimes in the past, even if they pay their debts to society, are instantaneously suspected of committing any other crimes that come along once they’re back in the general population. It’s clear that he’s making a little hay out of this talk show format that likes to parade people out onto stage for the audience to jeer, and it’s even sent as a memo that murder themed shows are ratings boosters. I also basically know what the ultimate plot here is, but I’ll reserve that for later.

After the show’s taping, Jerry, the producer (clever to tie it that close to Jerry Springer, I guess), is wrapping up the day. Paula Sands confronts him and tells him he’s a garbage person for being untrustworthy for guests to appear under false pretenses. A person wearing something similar to what Mommy would wear goes up into the catwalks above the stage and messes about with some equipment to hit Jerry on the head with. She then goes down to him and uses a high heel to kill him, again, framing Mommy.

Later that night, Jolene calls Paul and asks to meet him. She says she has a lucrative proposal for him. Confused, but not entirely unenthused about a lucrative proposal, agrees to meet her. She then walks over to a dresser where it shows she has several wigs, including one that’s blonde and happens to look like Mommy’s do.

Again, Mommy’s under investigation by the police sergeant who is following her around. Sure, witnesses saw her get angry at Jolene and Jerry. Sure, she’s formerly a murderer. The sergeant agrees that these murders are not her style. She wouldn’t have used a high heel to gauge Jerry’s eyes out with a high heel. She even says that if she was the person committing the crimes, and the one for Jerry’s murder in particular, she would have made sure the falling light from the catwalk would have killed him. There would be no other act for her to follow up with – especially one that violent. The sergeant says that despite he, Mommy, and Dr. Price all agreeing on it not being her way, it doesn’t mean she won’t be the one taking the fall.

Over at Beth and Paul’s place, Jolene gives her pitch to Paul. While they talk, Jessica Ann sees Jolene and decides to call Mommy to tell her about the terrible woman at her house. Mommy surmises that she could be the woman framing her. Jolene says she and Paul should write the Mommy sequel book for the two of them to hit it big. Paul flat declines the offer thinking that Jolene is using him to make her own name.

Back at her place, Jolene is on the phone with her editor or publisher or buddy or whatever, and comes to the conclusion that she can still get her name on a book through the use of a ghost writer. It’s clear that she is more of a personality to drum up drama on the talk show circuit. She’s not really much more than that… and a gold digger. She doesn’t give a shit about the sister Mommy killed in the first movie like she says she does on TV. She just wants to use her sister’s death to make money. She gets into the shower and our assailant arrives again. Dressed like Mommy again, the killer plugs in a boom box and tosses it into the shower with Jolene and electrocutes her.

Later, Mommy shows up in Jessica Ann’s room at night to tell her she’s gotta leave the country. She wants Jessica Ann to come with her under new names. However, this gets broken up when Beth comes into the room and tells Mommy she needs to pound sand. Paul comes in and tells everyone to come into the living room and talk this out. There, he tells everyone that Jolene has been murdered by electrocution. Mommy pleads her innocence. Paul suggests she call Mickey Spillane to lawyer up.

Paul getting involved apparently resolves the family drama. Mommy asks to use the spare bedroom in their house and everything seems swell. However, That night, while everyone sleeps, the assailant causing all these troubles kidnaps Jessica Ann. Beth goes into her bedroom to find she’s gone and there’s a rag with chloroform on it. Beth calls the sergeant and he tells her that he doesn’t think the girls’ in any physical danger, but he wants Beth to come down to the station to deliver a picture of Jessica Ann to distribute. This leaves Paul at home alone.

Mommy comes in from going out for groceries as the phone rings. Both Paul and Mommy answer at the same time, but what we hear is exactly what I thought was the case… Paul is in cahoots to get a sequel story out of this. This was something hinted at waaaay back at the beginning when he and Mommy chatted briefly before she was taken to be executed. He mentioned a sequel. It’s why he’s been very patient with the whole situation and tried to talk Beth off of keeping Mommy away from Jessica Ann. This “contractor” as she calls herself, is the one who has been going around killing people that Mommy has had interactions with. She resembles her close enough to make it plausible if anyone witnesses the deaths.

In order to protect Jessica Ann, Mommy rips the implant out of her arm so she can get her killer edge back. Paul is going to meet with the contractor to make a payment to her so she doesn’t kill Jessica Ann. It’s a good thing he writes down where they are going to meet, even though they’ve met there before because that’s going to be important info for Mommy to have.

Mommy confronts Paul and tells him that she heard the conversation and she knows he’s been framing her. Paul pulls a gun on her and she tells him that it really takes someone quite special to kill another person. She uses a letter opener to stab him in the side and then pushes his head into his computer monitor to electrocute him. Wow… Two electrocution deaths in a row. That’s kind of new.

It is kind of funny that Mommy tells him, “Don’t you know the sequel is never as good as the original?” Truer words have never been spoken about the Mommy movies.

Mommy grabs Paul’s gun and finds the written down meeting spot. Meanwhile, Jessica Ann wakes up in the back of the kidnapper’s car. She slips on her shoes and sneaks out and runs away without the kidnapper spotting her at first. Never mind why the kidnapper also thought to grab her shoes when grabbing her. You can’t have a young, semi-professional actress running around a state park and old cabin barefoot. Come on, think of the children, won’t ya?

Anyway, the contractor corners Jessica Ann. She tells her that Paul says she should strangle her to look like Mommy did it. She also wondered if killing a kid would affect her. That’s when Mommy shows up to tell this contractor to pick on somebody her own size. She explains that she punched her meal ticket having done away with Paul and all. Jessica Ann gets free from the contractor by biting her hand. Mommy shoots the contractor even though she gets stabbed by the contractor’s knife. It doesn’t seem to effect Mommy much. She’s clearly got that psycho strength back on her side.

Mommy clears her name and gets the coppers off her back. Well, except for Jolene Jones. That murder did fit Mommy’s style. That’s left up in the air on whether or not that was the contractor working for Paul or actually Mommy doing her in. Either way, she says that she’s got a new implant in place and she’s doing just fine. She celebrates Jessica Ann’s skating competition with Beth. But Beth… Well, she’s sedated after realizing her husband was a complete lunatic, but Mommy says that she thought that maybe the “little Asian girl” would get first place to be “politically correct” and all, but they’re lucky they didn’t do that. That gives Beth some doubt about what might really be going on inside Mommy’s head.

Mommy 2: Mommy’s Day is a fairly large step down from Mommy. Again, I have no real issue with the attempt to levy some sort of charges upon sensationalizing true crime, and murder stories in particular. There’s a nugget of something there. Patty McCormack is always very good and that’s definitely true here too. The burden is more on her for this movie too because she has to play innocent while leaving the door open that she could be a killer still. If she doesn’t pull that off, it would hurt this movie beyond any chance for redemption. But, overall, this movie is failed by a tiny budget and not a great look to it. It feels slightly uninspired and comes off as a far inferior Psycho II. That’s a movie that definitely plays that card of the formerly guilty always being suspected later on very well. Watch that movie instead.

Alright, so that should just about do it for this week. Next time around, we have more to celebrate. When it comes to May, it’s time to be thinking about the end of a school year. When you’re someone like me, who peaked in senior year of high school, then you’re focused solely on graduation day. So, let’s do just that! Join me for my review of the 1981 slasher flick Graduation Day. Until then, don’t forget your mommy is always your best friend, and if anything gets in your way, she’ll fuckin’ kill that obstacle and help elevate you to greatness!

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