I have very fond memories of being on the farm, in the middle of the summer, sitting on the porch with my grandmother and harvesting peas. I don’t have fond memories of her turning into a demon and yanking someone across the table to eat their heads off at birthday parties. These moments were never truly immortalized in a Norman Rockwell canvas on the cover of Saturday Evening Post (which would bring a whole new meaning to his ‘Freedom from Want’ painting). In 1988, Belgium director Emmanuel Kervyn cable-knitted a dark comedy masterpiece and the Troma team (Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz) released an edited version that will give you big eyes to see better and a drooling mouth, full of razor-sharp teeth, salivating for the original gorier and grosser edition that will make Louisa May Alcott say “Every house DOES NOT need a grandmother!”
It is hard to pinpoint exactly what Rabid Grannies wants to be for the audience, but I can say anyone who is a fan of the Evil Dead franchise will appreciate the filmmakers trying to soothe you with a cup of tea, honey, and bald mutated grandmothers ripping their families apart with their elongated fingernails. There has been controversy over the years over the crazy editing approach Troma did when they obtained the rights, which yields a choppy effect throughout the continuity and editing of the film. First of all, why a company like Troma would edit out gore is beyond me (did they see their own Troma’s War), but Troma was afraid the film needed to be less gore for younger crowds, which their advertising campaign was geared toward. However, most fandoms of this cinematic equivalent of a Birthday check (five lousy bucks… seriously, MeMaw?) defend the reason they love it so much is because of how chop-suey the movie is. Either way, you still get a man cracked in half, a rotting grandmother splitting her mouth open like a lizard, and moody lighting straight out of a Madonna music video because grandmothers live for that CENSORED!
If you can follow the plot (good luck) you will find two old bitties who have invited their families to celebrate their special day. Unfortunately, they have a black sheep in the family who was written out of the will, who also likes to do a little ‘voodoo that you do’ and sends a mysterious box as a birthday celebration. It’s a beautiful antique, and will look marvelous in the oak secretary next to the porcelain pigs if it was not for the whole ‘open this and we will turn my jerkish aunts/grandmothers into hoarding minions from Beelzebub! The family scurries throughout the estate to survive, but some people are not going to be on the Christmas list this year, having been devoured by their now… well, rabid grandmothers! Eventually, they are thwarted by the box being destroyed and turn from Hateas monsters to Auntie Em again, but not before one of the nieces takes the curse with them, sticking it to the man at the end (literally, sticking him in 3rd gear by ripping off his arm).
Comforting your way to a chopped-up 68 minutes in most markets, and directed with fun by Kervyn (with this being his only major directorial effort), this cast and crew have yet to be paid to this day, having sued the producer to retroactively get some birthday cash (the judged ruled in favor of the producer). You can find the wild edited version on Tubi and other similar platforms, but be sure to get the Blu-ray copy from Troma Entertainment which features an audio commentary by Kervyn and the edited gore outtakes. So get all dressed up in your red cape as you head over to Grandma’s ancient Belgium castle, fry up some expired canned granny smith apples for a crusty pie, and be on your best behavior for Grandma because as the quote says “Grandmas hold our tiny hands for just a little while…but will devour our hearts forever.”