Based on the novel by Naomi Hintze and directed by Lamont Johnson, the 1972 horror-thriller You’ll Like My Mother was a modest commercial success when it hit theaters, but gained a cult following after it was rerun countless times on television, as co-star Richard Thomas had gained fame as John-Boy on The Waltons. While it’s clear that You’ll Like My Mother was heavily influenced by Rosemary’s Baby, strong performances by Patty Duke, Barbara Sian Allen, Rosemary Murphy, and Richard Thomas elevate the material into something well worth watching.
Heavily pregnant, young widow Francesca Kinsolving (Duke) has traveled three days by bus from Los Angeles to snowy, rural Minnesota to meet her mother-in-law (Rosemary Murphy) for the first time. Francesca had eloped with her son Matthew during a two-week army leave; his death in a plane crash has left the grieving mother-to-be longing for some sort of connection to his family. Since Matthew had spoken so highly of his mother, visiting Mrs. Kinsolving (Murphy) seems like an obvious choice.
The unannounced visit doesn’t go as planned when Mrs. Kinsolving—who lives in an incredibly large, isolated mansion—begins spewing bile and abuse at a shocked Francesca, accusing her of causing her son’s death, and tells her she will never be welcome in her home, or for that matter her life. As Francesca prepares to leave, the snow is so intense that “Mother” demands she stay the night. Reluctantly agreeing, Francesca quickly finds herself thrust into a nightmare. While Matthew told her stories about his cousin Kenny (Thomas), a creepy fellow who once pulled the shell off of Matthew’s turtle just to watch it die, he never mentioned he had a mentally disabled sister, Kathleen (Allen).
From the start, Patty Duke makes Francesca a sympathetic character against Rosemary Murphy’s cold Mrs. Kinsolving—the two are formidable foes as they banter, with such clipped toxic tones that it feels as if one of them will throw a punch at any moment. Props also to Sian Barbara Ann as the handicapped Kathleen, who provides great support to the two main actors, and somewhat appropriately, in the end, her character proves smarter than the “normal” characters in the film.
Soaked in mystery, director Lamont Johnson and screenwriter Jo Heims isn’t particularly complicated. Francesca knows right away she’s in danger, and goes into survival mode. It’s nice to see a heroine who doesn’t take forever to figure things out. Johnson keeps things grounded as well. He avoids the gimmick of people jumping out of dark the shadows; the shooting style at the mansion is fairly straightforward. He gives service to the story, and lets talented actors do their jobs.
You’ll Like My Mother isn’t perfect. There are some holes that distract from the overall plot, and the ending will leave you with more than a few questions. Even so, it’s a well-crafted little thriller featuring some impressive performances.
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Scream Factory’s 1080p transfer is pretty solid. Grain structure is fairly tight, though a few scenes have some splotches. Colors are slightly dull, but not necessarily faded. Fine detail is surprisingly good throughout. A few scratches are apparent, but don’t interfere with the overall viewing experience.
The English DTS-HD Master 2.0 Audio track is nothing special, but it provides clear dialogue throughout, and the minimal sound effects are well spaced.
English subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- The Mystery of Kenny and Kathleen (HD,55:34) New alternating interview clips featuring actors Sian Barbara Allen and Richard Thomas. Both actors provide an extensive overview of their careers up to You’ll Like My Mother. Pretty interesting stuff for the movie history buffs among us. The two go on to discuss the making of the film, and their own personal relationship.
- Photo Gallery (HD, 2:15)
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:21)
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