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Case Number 03984: Small Claims Court

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Ed And His Dead Mother

Pathfinder // 1993 // 93 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // February 28th, 2004

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All Rise...

The Charge

"Happy people live forever
Happy people never die
Happy people live forever
People just like you and I…"

The Case

Meet Ed (Steve Buscemi). Ed is lonely. Ed just lost his mother a year ago. But not to worry! Through the magic of reanimation, Ed will get his dead mother back, good as new…well, almost good as new. When a sleek salesman named A.J. Pattle (John Glover) comes walking through Ed's door, he brings with him the promise of new life! Not for Ed, but for his poor departed mother. For $1,000, Pattle puts Ed's mother back together again, kitchen apron and all. But things don't seem quite right with mother (Miriam Margolyes). For instance, she's been jumping up and down on the bed a lot, as well as passing out on the living room floor. Even stranger is the fact that she eats live bugs to keep herself among the living. Things really being to get out of control, when she starts chasing down domestic pets and chops an ex-con to bits! What's a loving son to do? With the help of his obnoxious uncle (Ned Beatty) and his sexy neighbor (Sam Jenkins, The Bonfire of the Vanities), Ed's got to figure out a way to get dear ol' mother back in the grave, before she makes the entire subdivision her own personal supper club!

Somewhat of an anomaly, director Jonathan Wacks's (Mystery Date) offbeat Ed and His Dead Mother is a film that truly deserves the title "cult film," even if it's not on par with some of cinema's far better, sleeper video hits. The whole thing plays like a PG version of Peter Jackson's Dead Alive: a beloved mother is brought back from the grave to wreck havoc on her meager son's life. In Jackson's tale, the gore and grizzle is taken to the wall in an orgy of gross out gags and goop. In Ed and His Dead Mother, everything feels watered down, including the humor. Throughout the movie, I kept hoping that more insightful, witty gags would pop up. Alas, the most screenwriter Chuck Hughes can come up with are slow-mo scenes of Ed's mother—played with batty resilience by Miriam Margolyes (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)—chasing a dog down the street with a large knife. Funny? Slightly, but not even close to what it could have been. Steve Buscemi, doing yet another variation on his weasel/toad characters, plays Ed with bug-eyed worry and lots of minor body ticks. The actor who gets the most mileage from their character is the great John Glover (Gremlins 2: The New Batch) as the slick salesman peddling the gift/curse of newfound life. All white hair and pearly grin, Glover turns in a tremendous performance as one of the '90s greatest hucksters. In what may be one of the stranger performances of 1993 is Ned Beatty, looking even more disheveled than some of the supposed corpses in this film. It all adds up to a very uneven, sporadic film experience. And yet there's something to be said for a movie that has the guts to show the main character tenderly give his mother's decapitated head one final kiss, only to find the head attached to his bottom lip after the smooch. In those brief moments Ed and His Dead Mother gives us a glimpse of what it could have been…with the right script and some thoroughly pitch black humor.

Ed and His Dead Mother is presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. Is it possible in this day and age studios are still producing non-anamorphic films? The sad reality is—yes. Some discs feature lackluster transfers and Ed and His Dead Mother is one of them. The image often looks slightly washed out and the colors and black levels aren't as solid as one might hope. Cult fans will most likely be very disappointed at how this transfer looks. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround in English. The sound is well heard, which is certainly a plus. In fact, it can safely be assessed that this mix is far better than the video portion of the disc. All aspects of the dialogue, effects, and music are clear and well recorded. No alternate subtitles or soundtracks are available.

Though there appears to be a fair amount of special features on Ed and His Dead Mother, the fact is the commentary track by Gregory Weinkauf and Luke Thompson (apparently film critics) is the only passable supplement. The two men discuss the first time they saw Ed and His Dead Mother, as well as rant and rave about various other musings, none of which relate any importance. Also included on this disc are some filmographies, a still gallery, and an alternate opening and closing of the film, which are really cheats, since the only difference is they're in color and not black and white (as found in the final cut).

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 55

Perp Profile

Studio: Pathfinder
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• None
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary Track
• Alternate Opening Sequence
• Alternate Closing Sequence
• Still Gallery
• Filmographies


• IMDb

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