Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bloody Mama (1970)

Director: Roger Corman

Starring: Shelley Winters, Robert De Niro, Don Stroud, Bruce Dern, Pat Hingle

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Say it with bullets!

Plot: Machine gun totin' Ma Barker (Winters) takes her gang of four sons (including Stroud and De Niro) on the road for a mid-west depression-era crime spree that included bank robbing, kidnapping and murder. She just wants what's best for her boys, wouldn't you?

My Rating: 6/10
Would I watch it again? Not likely

Say, kids. Do you want to see Shelley Winters bare-ass naked showing her goods off for the world to see? No? Well then hows about a hungry Robert De Niro as a low life dim-witted doper?

Well, thankfully Winters is fully clothed throughout (I'd have to take away a few points of my score if she weren't) so you can rest easy as you read on.

Roger Corman should've stuck to producing instead of directing. I absolutely loved his LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960) and A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1960). But this one, in an obvious attempt to capitalize on the recent hit BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967), makes one too many pit stops in Dullsville. Don't get me wrong, it's got a lot going for it like Winters her usual over-the-top style. She hams it up with the best of 'em (though she was more fun in POOR PRETTY EDDIE (1975)). And then the other big draw for this is seeing a young and hungry De Niro as a hopped-up idiot junkie. When he's not sniffin' glue he's raping recreational swimmers. One of my favorites, Bruce Dern, is barely in it but when he's on screen he owns it. Pat Hingle is great but it's his scenes with Mama that could have been trimmed. It's not him that brings it down but the unnecessary dialogue that adds to the, seemingly over long, 90 minute run time. It's overkill and it needs to be squelched. This film could have been trimmed by about 15 minutes and you'd have a much better experience.

You've also got Mama having sex (implied) with her sons. Her eldest son takes on a hooker for a wife which he shares with his brothers only until they're married and then it's off limits! And once again, Bruce Dern steals every scene he's in. He's acting circles around EVERYONE!

The best line? When Winters is leaving her loser husband she says to him, "Ya never did mount me proper." Classic.

There's a lot to like here but the overall lack of action and long, drawn-out drama scenes bring the film to a screeching halt too many times. And I put the responsibility on Corman for that one. Four years later he got this genre right when he produced BIG BAD MAMA (1974) and let Steve Carver direct. THAT is what BLOODY MAMA should have been. It's a much better film with more action AND a TOTALLY NUDE ANGIE DICKENSON!!! Hold off judgement until you've seen her. I chi wawa! Plus you've got a hammy Bill Shatner thrown into the mix.

So how do you watch BLOODY MAMA? Easy, just follow it up with BIG BAD MAMA and you've got yourself one hell of a drive-in double feature - just like Mama used to make.

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