There’s something in the milk that’s making mothers go crazy, but it’s not the only plot element in Susan J. Emshwiller’s hilarious 50’s-motif film “in the Land of Milk and Money.” There are so many levels to this dark comedy about why man should not play god with any animal. From start to finish, Emshwiller’s film references and addresses issues such as non-organic foods, Mad Cow Disease, the cult of domesticity, and the social and economic role of motherhood. Dr. Peter Cochran (Chris Coulson) is the main character, a genetics researcher whose latest work breathes new meaning to spoiled milk.
With the help of KMOB TV reporter and former girlfriend Laurie Shallot (Kim Gillingham), Dr. Cochran figures out that after a mother consumes dairy products from a genetically altered cow, she becomes homicidal, consumed by an uncontrollable urge to murder her own children. The idea that hormonally enriched milk could turn mothers into killers is very disturbing, yet brilliant. Mothers certainly have a wealth of weapons within reach (kitchen appliances, sewing kits, and other any household item). As Dr. Cochran works with a Dr. Melvin Trevors (Jesse Harper) to find an antidote to what’s been coined Maternal Organic Operating Dysfunction Syndrome or MOODS, the film asks if society crumbles when mothers no longer do their jobs. There is chaos at first, of course, but as “in the Land of Milk and Money” points out, society’s strong desire to survive overcomes all difficulties. Service industries boom and Brand Corporation, the supplier of the tainted milk, rakes in a lot of profit.
Emshwiller simultaneously criticizes advancements in harmful genetic research, emphasizes the necessity of motherhood, and reminds us that we should all be grateful for what our mothers do for us.