Even though she's been dead for over a year now, Ed can't seem to move on with his life without his mother. Fate intervenes in the form of a fast, smooth-talking salesman from Happy People Corporation who promises Ed that, for a small fee, he can bring his mother back from the dead. Skeptical, Ed agrees to the deal, and is shocked to find his mother has returned home the next. Although something isn't right about his mother. Something seems…off. Things take an even stranger turn as Ed begins a relationship with his sexy neighbor and his mother is none too pleased with that idea and begins to lash out. Violently.
A revisit to "Ed and His Dead Mother" has been a long time coming. I'd venture to say it's been almost 15 years since I last saw it. The dark-comedy that is "Ed and His Dead Mother" was one of those video store treasures I stumbled across. Having never heard of it before and that it featured Steve Buscemi as the lead was enough to get me to rent it and I recall enjoying it immensely. Although before the revisit, I only had distinct memories of a chainsaw, a lawnmower and unmistakable resemblance to Peter Jackson's "Braindead".
Ed Chilton cannot get over the death of his mother, who has been deceased for over year. Even with his peeping Tom of an uncle, Benny, living with him and encouraging him to get on with his life, Ed can't seem to move on without his mother. That's when Mr. Abner of Happy People Corporation shows up on Ed's doorstep with the solution: for a small fee, Mr. Abner can bring Ed's mother back from the dead. While he's skeptical, Ed pays for the service and is shocked to find his mother in their home, the next day, good as new. Although she does have some small quirks, like living in refrigerator and has a hunger for flesh. Things become even more hectic when Ed begins to have a relationship with his sexy next-door neighbor and his mother doesn't like the idea of having to share Ed's affections.
Sadly, "Ed and His Dead Mother" didn't hold up for me over time. I use to wonder why it hadn't achieved more of a cult status because I thought the movie's rather unusual concept would have granted it at least that much. However, watching it now, I think the movie simply became lost amongst all the unusual comedies that came out in the late '80s and early '90s about families and living in suburbia. Movies like "The 'Burbs", "Meet the Applegates" and even something like "The Coneheads" as well -- or just really weird comedies in general, like "Nothing But Trouble".
Now I actually still enjoyed "Ed and His Dead Mother" and it's not a bad movie but the humor overall is not terribly dark but rather dry. I don't think I ever actually laughed or cracked a smile while watching it but the humor was still there. The only thing the movie ever managed to get out of me were remarks like, "That was funny." Those odd moments where you know something is funny and the joke hits its mark but doesn't quite do enough to muster up a chuckle, let alone a guffaw. Part of it is because the movie's humor is incredibly dry -- borderline Norm McDonald only less clever -- but it's also rather withdrawn and safe.
The movie can get extraordinarily silly when it wants to with scenes of Miriam Margolyes chasing a dog down a street with a butcher knife and two-tines fork, or her trying to run over her son's girlfriend with a riding lawnmower. Even with those silly and over-the-top moments, "Ed and His Dead Mother" still remains as a marginal comedy at best. Which is a shame because it has a great cast and a great premise -- the movie had everything at its disposal to be a great dark-comedy like "The 'Burbs" or even "Braindead (minus the zombies and gore).
Again, "Ed and His Dead Mother" is not a bad movie by any means. It's biggest draw back is that it doesn't do enough with its comedy, and that's too bad because it had the cast to do something special. Steve Buscemi is perfect as the lead character, and there's a great cameo by Jon Gries, but Miriam Margolyes really steals the show as the re-animated Mabel Chilton. She makes the character fun and creates most the humor in the movie but sadly she wasn't given enough material to do more and help make this movie something unique and memorable. Perhaps "Ed and His Dead Mother" isn't the best movie to turn on for a group viewing that'll keep the room entertained, but it is still a movie worth checking out.