2019 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge: Day 20: Ed and his Dead Mother (1993)

Day 20 Sunday Dinner: From eating scenes to full on foodie fodder

Author’s Note: You’ll be able to watch the full films of Ed and his Death Mother’s cool ‘n quirky cousins: Bartleby, Ed and Rubin, Trees Lounge, and Twister for free, and Ghost World for a fee. (Links to follow in the article.) And there is eating in all of them—especially Steve Buscemi driving an ice cream truck in Trees Lounge and Edna and Rebecca in Ghost World slinging popcorn and coffee, respectively. So there you go! And now, on with the eats, I mean, show!

The only thing missing from Ed and His Dead Mother is Crispin Glover.

When I look at this film’s cover, I can’t help but think of Twister (1989; full film/You Tube), featuring Crispin’s flaky, new wave rocker, Howdy, crooning in an echo chamber with a phase-connected guitar about how pretty his baby is and how mean his daddy is.

When I watch Ed and his Dead Mother, I can’t help but think of my equally quirky favorite, Ed and Rubin (1991; You Tube/full movie), with Crispin’s Rubin Farr and Howard Hessman’s Ed Tuttle frolicking about like Howdy’s distant cousins, wallowing in a henpecked loneliness, just down the street from Steve Buscemi’s Ed Chilton. And Mr. Chilton, probably, at one time, lived in the same neighborhood of another one of my favorite, quirky loves: the Steve Buscemi-starring and directed Trees Lounge (full movie/TubiTV).

“This movie sucks,” they say. “Come on, you have to hate this movie,” they tell me. In the words of Crispin’s Bartleby, in the awesome Jonathan Parker-version of Herman Melville’s short-fiction piece, “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street” (Bartleby, 2001; full movie/You Tube), I say to them: “I would prefer not to.” That’s probably why I have no friends and write all day long. They’s nothing like a steely resolve in your movie preferences to drive away the sane people.

However, I didn’t say I wanted Crispin instead of: I want him in addition to Steve Buscemi. Do I really have to rattle off Steve’s credits for you: Escape from L.A., Fargo, Reservoir Dogs . . . but I will mention his Ed Chilton’s long-lost brother, Seymour, which you might have missed, from another one of my off-beat loves, Ghost World (2001; rental/Vudu).

So I think that little bit of insight to my VHS shelf will give you either fair warning to run—or leave your chops watering with bug-juicy anticipation for this Jonathan Wacks directed, chunky-chunk of weirdness. Hey, Jonathan is the dude who directed the Beatles’ George Harrison-produced Pow Wow Highway (1989) and produced the Monkees’ Michael Nesmith’s Repo Man. He directed porno-shock rockers GWAR (alongside Ethan Hawke from Reality Bites) in Mystery Date (1991). The dude ran, as Vice President of Production, the Samuel Goldwyn Company (of MGM fame). While he only did four feature films: they were awesome, unique original films and I love them all. I wished Jonathan Wacks stayed behind the camera and stayed out the executive suite. I wished fate would have had my own acting endeavors cross his path. I’d love to act in one of his movies. A gig as an under five/day player trading chops with Crispin and Buscemi in some crazy-ass road movie based on the writings of Hunter S. Thompson is in my thespian wheelhouse. I’d even take a part in a sequel to Ice Cream Man (see my Day 20: Option 4 review) just to work with Clint Howard.

“Dude, what the hell does this have to do with the ‘Day 20 Scarecrow Challenge’ regarding movies about or featuring food? While you were yacking about your man-love for Crispin Glover and Steve Buscemi, I went to the IMDB and it says Steve’s character doesn’t even run a restaurant: he owns and operates a hardware store. So, what’s he eating: sandpaper and paint chip sandwiches?”

Well, he’s not eating anything. But his dear, dead mom loves her bugs.

Lost somewhere between the cannibal-comedy shenanigans of Paul Bartel’s Eating Raoul (1982) and Peter Jackson’s gooey zombie-comedy Dead Alive (1993), only not as clumsy as Eating Raoul and not as icky as Dead Alive, lies the cockroach crunch of Ed and his Dead Mother, with its comedic questions on how we deal with death.

Ed lives with his perpetual telescope-peering pervert uncle Benny (Ned Beatty of Deliverance, 1972). Ned’s living the life, now that his domineering nag-of-a-sister, Mabel (omnipresent character actress Miriam Margolyes), is dead; Ed is still moping about it a year later. That makes Ed easy prey for a smarmy, super slick salesman in the form of the white-haired and white-suit clad A.J Pattle (ubiquitous TV and film villain John Glover; Gremlins 2: The New Batch, In the Mouth of Madness) from the Happy People Corporation of Webster City, Iowa. His product: he sells reanimation services (to the recently-insurance loaded loved ones of the dead).

Ed lays down the $1000 bucks—and Pattle shows up at the door step with Mabel. Of course, since this is all an elaborate insurance swindle, the reanimation “runs out.” Now Pattle pitches HPC’s “reanimation kit” (a shrink-wrapped metal tin) for $349.99.

And what’s inside: cockroaches. Why: “Life my, boy. Life,” exclaims Pattle. “But only give her two a day. No more, no less. You don’t want to give her too much ‘life’ at one time. It screws up the reanimation process.” Naturally, Ed and Benny soon realize the now profanity-spewing Mable is not the woman she used to be. Of course, as with any Pandora’s Box: Once it’s opened—and you don’t follow the instructions—and, in this case, if you overdose on “life,” you become a crazed killer. And you develop a taste for dogs and cats and become addicted to lawnmower death—of the furry creatures, not the band.

And that sultry babe teasing Benny through the telescope, the one that Ed would never have shot with, makes a play for Ed. And why not? She’s the Happy People Corporation’s femme fatale secret weapon to bilk Ed of his mother’s inheritance. Creepy Uncle Benny’s into it for the vicarious ride and listens to Ed’s total failure in sealing the deal and suggests, “Maybe I can hide in the kitchen and scream out positions to you in case you get stuck on what to do next.”

And what should you do next? Pop the Orville Redenbacher, throw in a DiGiorno’s, pop a Dos Equis and watch Ed and his Dead Mother for free on TubiTv.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn about his work on Facebook.

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