by Judson Cade Pedigo
My parents kept me on a pretty short leash movie-wise growing up. Everything needed to be previewed and approved before it got to me. That doesn’t mean that I missed out, it just means that I had my own personal MPAA ready to edit each cinematic excursion through the magic of remote. When you’re young you are at the mercy of your parent’s taste in pop culture but luckily for me my folks had a pretty eclectic taste in movies. Jim Henson, Terry Gilliam, and John Carpenter were all regulars in my household. I still have Little Shop of Horrors finger puppets I made back in the 3rd grade. In cub scouts we made Thanksgiving placemats illustrating what we were thankful for and I drew Roger Rabbit. During vacation bible school we designed memory boxes and I decorated mine with Gizmo and Stripe. Movies definitely had an impact on me growing up. I was allowed to watch most movies as long as I was supervised. I’ll never forget when my mom brought home Army of Darkness just because she thought the cover looked “cool." I was so impressed that I wrote a review for the 6th grade school paper. After my write up of Evil Dead II, they stopped asking me to review movies. Now if the language got a little rough or if things started getting sexy it wasn’t anything the fast forward button couldn’t fix. They drew the line at nudity. I still haven’t seen all of Howard the Duck. As soon as a topless duck showed up they shut it down. It was probably for the best. I never rebelled or tried to sneak movies behind their backs or anything. Even when I discovered that other kids my age were regularly watching R rated movies. I’ll never forget the look of confusion on my friend’s face when I told him that I’d have to call home to check if I could watch Terminator 2 while I stayed the night. Hey man, rules are rules.
As I got older my taste in movies began to shift ever so slightly. Look, I’d love to sit here and tell you that I had discovered Bergman and Truffaut and really started exploring what the medium was capable of but the fact of the matter is this: it was 1993, I was 11, and I NEEDED to see Jason Goes to Hell!!! After all it was “The FINAL Friday!" After failing to convince my mother that it was theater-worthy I finally talked her in to renting it. Now that I’m older I have a more discerning eye when it comes to these kind of things and I can appreciate it for what it is but when you’re a kid getting to watch a big deal R rated motion picture, it was awesome. There were explosions, people talking all raw, and of course (spoiler alert) Jason going to hell. Now when you’re a parent who’d rather be doing anything else on a Friday night it probably wasn’t as cool. My dad bailed pretty early but my mom stuck with it through all the viscera, blood letting, and body melting. That woman is a saint. Of course I had to find out how Freddy died next.
It wasn’t always so great watching R rated movies with your mom, in fact it could get down-right awkward. The swearing especially. My folks kept things pretty clean around the house so actually hearing cusses thrown around so recklessly in a movie was still pretty shocking. I mean, the marines in Aliens were all pretty cool but did they have to swear so much? Every time the language got rough I’d flinch internally because I knew my mom didn’t approve. She’d usually let it slide but there would be a breaking point and it involved a one, two punch of bad decision-making skills when it came to picking a double feature for the weekend. First up was Return of the Living Dead III. For the uninitiated, ROTLD III is the tragic “Romeo and Juliet” like tale of boy meets girl, girl dies in a motorcycle accident, boy brings girl back to life with experimental chemicals found at his Dad’s secret government base, girl goes full zombie and graphically kills a bunch of people. You know, classic Shakespeare stuff. They really went for it with this movie, people get their heads removed, spines ripped out, and oh yeah, did I forget to mention that the female lead spends the entire third act pierced and practically topless? It did not go over well. Thinking I could turn things around with a comedy I put in my next rental. It was a little black and white film that had gotten a lot of attention at Sundance that year, a movie simply titled Clerks. Probably number one on the list of movies NEVER to watch with your mom. It…….did not go over well. We made it as far as the infamous “37” discussion before the plug was pulled and my mini movie marathon was thankfully brought to a close. Sorry mom.
It wasn’t long after that I was handed down an old VCR and it wasn’t too much later that I was allowed to rent what I wanted. I think it was more to spare my parents for when Mallrats came out. Now I could watch movies without incident, except for the time that a self-entitled Hollywood Video employee tattled on me for renting Todd Solondz films. My parents just told me not to rent from her anymore.
Now that I’m older I can really appreciate what my mom did for me. I know she didn’t care for most of my movie choices but she still sacrificed her time just so I could watch Jason swing his machete one last time. I asked her recently why she put up with it and sat through all of them and she said, “Nobody should have to watch those movies alone." Thanks mom. By the way, she’s still picking out quality movies to watch; she informed me that she watched Mad Max: Fury Road again last week. With today being Mother's Day I just might bring over my copy of Jason Goes to Hell, the unrated director’s cut, for old time’s sake, just to see what we’ve been missing all these years. Maybe I should just get her a nice book. Yeah, probably the book.