Ed and His Dead Mother (1993):
#5 on the (temporary) list of the Funniest Zombie Movies:
1. Shaun of the Dead
2. Cemetery Man (Dellamorte, Dellamore)
3. The Return of the Living Dead
4. Dead Alive
5. Ed and His Dead Mother
Although this film is a pure comedy and makes
no attempt at any serious point, it is arguably the most realistic
zombie movie ever made, because it provides a realistic answer to the
question of what it would really be like in our world if someone learned how to
re-animate the dead. If this ever happens, the people who perfect the process
will not be some cackling scientific renegades in a dusky, secluded
laboratory. They will not even use the word "laboratory," let alone
pronounce it "la-BORE-a-tree." If such a process is ever
will be under the aegis of some corporate "lab," and will probably be
discovered by accident in the course of some unrelated research. Once
a corporation gets hold of it, they will have to make as much profit
as possible in the brief window of opportunity before other
corporations drive the price down with competitive parity. Their marketing geniuses will develop a plan
to milk the proprietary secret, and their sales force will hold
strategy meetings, set lofty goals, and pursue a high-pressure
The primary question the marketers will
discuss is, "How can we maximize our profits from this secret?",
especially given that people will soon discover that bringing a loved
one back from the dead is not really a smart thing to do, especially when
the dearly departed get into the whole zombie thing of killing the living and eating
their brains. Sure, maybe a company could sell a few high-priced re-animations
to the very rich, but that well would soon run dry, especially since
the failures will occur in the glare of media exposure. Surely there must be a
better marketing strategy! Of course there is, and the scriptwriter
got it exactly right. First of all, the company will not disseminate
the program through advertising, but will identify specific
prospective clients and market only to them. Then the salesmen will
lowball the price of bringing back a loved one. They will do it at
cost, and will not even demand money upfront, since they expect
prospective clients to be skeptical. It's only a thousand bucks to
bring back someone you really miss - and you don't pay a dime until
they deliver the departed in satisfactory condition. Wouldn't you think that
is an "easy
sell" to grieving loved ones? Sure enough. But the company makes no profit
doing that. They sell the re-animation at a loss for the same reason
that video game companies sell you a game system at a loss - to make
the big bucks on the aftermarket sales. They will make their profit by
selling the secret of how to return the loved one to the grave once
the client realizes (1) he's made a mistake (2) he has no idea how to
kill someone who is already dead. How much will that final secret
cost? It depends. The Happy People company researches a client, finds
out how much insurance money he got from the death of the beloved, and
charges that much to return said beloved to the grave. In essence,
they have a plan for every pocketbook, and it involves the complete
contents of that pocketbook!
You have to think that the entire process would really work
Ed (Steve Buscemi) is a weak-willed momma's
boy who just can't get used to the fact that momma is dead, and he
received $50,000 from momma's insurance when she died, so he's a
perfect target for Happy People. He gladly ponies up the modest fee to
bring momma back, and that works out great for one night. When he
awakens the next morning he finds that momma is in the refrigerator,
and she treats it as a perfectly normal thing. Ed ignores that because she
still seems like his sweet momma in all other respects, and she was
dead after all. He soon finds
the situation deteriorating further because zombies are not very good houseguests, particularly when they
start to hunger for living flesh. Momma starts out eating roaches, but
zombies become addicted to life as if it were a drug, and they have to
gradually increase the dosage. Momma's next step is to hang around the dump
looking for raccoons, rats, and stray dogs, but Ed still views all of
that as a minor problem because she absolutely still seems like the
same old momma.
When she starts to kill drifters, however, Ed
knows he's made a mistake.
Is it a wildly funny movie? No. The very good
premise is exploited better elsewhere, by Peter Jackson's Dead Alive, a film
made one year earlier with
almost exactly the same central premise, but with a much gorier
interpretation, and a far blacker heart. Ed and His Dead Mother has
some funny moments, and even some edgy ones, but a lot of it is just
as safe and predictable as a sitcom. If it is a dark comedy, it's one
of the sweetest ones ever made! The marketing side of the zombie
secret is, however, a very interesting idea explored in some depth,
and Buscemi's "regular guy" presence gives the film beings a lot of credibility
relative to its modest budget ($1.8 million). Other veteran actors help out as well. Ned Beatty brings a
hilariously matter-of-fact attitude to the role of Buscemi's uncle
(brother of the zombie momma), and John Glover is perfect as the
salesman. There really are plenty of moments when this film seems
ready to take off and fly, but it stays too tame and never really
delivers any howls of either laughter or fright. As a result, it
ends up being a pleasant enough watch in the "weird movie" category,
but it's not really a comedy or a horror movie. It's more like a
character study about everyday people in a small town - except that it begins with a
crazy premise. Think of Burt Lancaster in The Rainmaker, except
imagine Burt selling the secret of re-animation.
It does have some pretty impressive
nudity for a PG-13 flick.
- Sam Jenkins is Mrs Kevin Sorbo.
She kind of dropped out of the movie biz around 1994 to do some
heavy-duty parenting, although she did TV work in the late 90s. She
had a recurring role in Chicago Hope and another in Hercules with
- I have no idea who Nancy Reed is,
but she showed some flesh in her one and only scene.
Fantastic Four (2005):
This is normally the portion of the commentary when I describe the
plot, but that won't be easy, because there isn't one. You see,
Fantastic Four is not a movie at all. It is just a very long
self-contained flashback scene from a future movie. At least it feels
that way. That is an inherent problem, of course, in any film with
five major super-powered characters. Compare it, for example, to
Spiderman 2, in which our intrepid hero is already established, so
there's only Doc Ock's origin to develop. One guy. On the other hand,
the FF movie has five characters of equal stature, and is therefore
saddled with five times as much back-story as Spiderman 2. That does
not consist merely of explicatory narrative. It's showing in some
clever way how each of the five discovered his powers. It's some
lighthearted demonstrations of unusual applications of their
capabilities. It's some character development history for all five of
And then the film ran out of time.
Other films, like X-Men, have managed more
characters successfully, but the entire FF movie is an "origin
issue" for all of the characters. X-Men knew better than to attempt
If it had been my decision, I would have
wanted the film series to start running, by using Marvel's very best
Fantastic Four story, perhaps the battle against Galactus and Silver
Surfer. To hell with the damned origins. I don't even care how they
got their powers. If the research shows that most people do have to
have that included in the movie, bring in Michael York to play Basil
Exposition, and he can explain it to a newspaper reporter in a couple
of witty paragraphs. Yes, I know that would be boring and hackneyed,
but it would be short, and the editor can make it more exciting by
showing some visuals while he speaks.
The only thing I really liked about this movie
was Julian McMahon as the villain, and I was enthusiastic only about
what he did in the first half, when he was Victor Von Doom, and was
really attempting to make the character real and multi-dimensional
rather than a cartoon bad guy. In the second half, when he became
Doctor Doom, he was just the usual megalomaniacal costumed freak who
always appears in comics as nothing more than prop for the heroes.
McMahon could have been great if they had let him be the Doctor Doom
of the early comics: brilliant, aesthetic, wounded, capable of great
sensitivity to match his great rage, and honor to match his scheming.
Unfortunately, most of his movie schtick consisted of the "buahahahaha"
portion of the entertainment. In the very brief time when he used
subtle conniving to turn Ben against Reed, he demonstrated what a
great villain he might have been, but that phase was quickly over,
replaced by the mad scientist stuff and lots of explosions.
In comparison to the the best recent
super-hero films, FF is not in the same league. It can't really be
compared to X-2 or Batman Begins, because it doesn't exist in their
noir world. Although the Fantastic Four were Marvel heroes, this movie
reminds me more of the juvenile DC comics of the 50s than the daring Marvel comics of
the late 60s and 70s which took on cosmic ideas as well as social and political
issues. Like the Superman comics of the fifties, and like their
realization on Saturday morning TV, it's filled with jokey, cartoony sorts of characters spouting
grade-B expository dialogue in a pastel-colored fantasy world, and has nothing
more profound on its mind than sexual and career jealousy. It should
have ended with the characters winking at the camera! (And it almost
On the other hand, it's a passable popcorn film. I sat back, let it
wash over me, and enjoyed some moments. If you are older than 12, you
will probably consider it no more than a childish bit of shallow fun,
but what's wrong with that? That's basically what the Spidey movies
are as well. To tell you the truth, there is nothing really wrong with
Fantastic Four except that it is merely a prequel for Fantastic Four
There is good news. Unexpectedly, there is one frame of Jessica
Alba nudity. It's slightly out of focus, but there is her right breast
for everyone to see.
The World "Chess Beauty" Contest.
- Winner gets to be a pawn star
Colbert Report: This Week in History: December 4th-10th
Christina Applegate and Jonathan Schaech. They were married four years.
It's a bad day for the marriages of sitcom daughters. See the next link below.
Valerie Bertinelli and Eddie Van Halen. They have been married for 24
Revisiting the gallery
Seven Floor - pictures 66-70 are beautiful pictures of Alba.
calling a phone number for answers about the new Medicare prescription drug
program reached a phone sex line by mistake"
Customer pays pizza delivery guy with a credit card which had been stolen ...
from the pizza guy!!!!
Cook doing a 9 minute stand-up comedy opening monologue on SNL, like Steve
Martin in the SNL glory days.
Weekend Warrior makes his predictions for the upcoming weekend.
- He predicts that Narnia will break big with $55 million, and Syriana
will battle Potter for the #2 spot
- He's estimating a 60% drop for Aeon Flux.
- Everything else - business as usual.
"CONDI PROMISES WORLD: NO SEQUELS TO DUKES OF HAZZARD ... Confronts
Worries On European Trip"
- "Speaking in Berlin today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reassured
the European community that the United States has no plans to produce a
sequel to last summer’s Jessica Simpson vehicle, “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
How bad are
things for DeLay? He's 13 points behind you in the polls of voters in
- He is literally running behind "unnamed opponent." And this is in Texas,
where we consider corruption a positive attribute! If it gets any worse,
he'll have to run for his next term in New Jersey.
The Daily Show:
"A former Pentagon spokesperson explains to a reporter why propaganda might
not be good."
The Daily Show's Rob Corddry analyzes the havoc that will be wreaked if Bush's
immigration law goes through.
Jon Stewart interviews "Jimma" Carter
MovieJuice looks at
- "Normally, a film of this caliber features a badly animated saber-tooth
tiger and David Keith in safari gear. Unfortunately for Charlize Theron,
David must be busy signing Officer and a Gentleman lobby cards or installing
Whatever happened to ... Leapin' Lanny Poffo? (He's Randy "Macho Man" Savage's brother, by the way.)
The dumbest warning labels. (Would be a more interesting list if reliably true. Unfortunately, it is from Weekly World News.)
This week's movies (expanding to 1750 theaters):
Syriana - 81% positive reviews.
This week's movies (3000 screens):
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe - 80% positive reviews
The Charlie Brown Christmas classic is now 40 years old!
- Like many people, I didn't much like it when it debuted, but it has grown on me.
Santa Claus Under Attack from Privacy Advocates
Conan's quotables for the week of November 29th
- "Earlier today President Bush sent out 1.4 million Christmas cards to his friends. In a related story, Dick Cheney sent out three."
A new clip from Brokeback Mountain
"Britney allegedly kicked Kevin out of their Malibu home last week. She then ordered a garage to tow away his Ferrari."
A great song video:
"The Internet is for Porn"
Celebrity Caricatures ... Type in the name of a celeb, and the site searches for caricatures. Try "Sean Connery," for example, to see some good results.
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
"Spanking the Monkey" (1994):
Spanking the Monkey is an early film from David O. Russell (I Heart
Huckabees, Three Kings, Flirting With Disaster). It was made for a mere 80K
using film stock ends his wife somehow appropriated, the drew was unpaid,
agreeing to a percentage of any profits, and the cast and crew lodging for the
25 days of shooting was also free. The convention center hotel agreed to house
cast and crew in exchange for a documentary about their facility. It cost
another 100K to finish it after it was in the can. They managed to sell it at
Sundance, and it did $1.6M in distribution.
The studio chose to market it as a dark comedy, and they are still claiming
that on the DVD packaging. IMDb also lists it that way. It is not, nor was it
ever intended to be, a comedy. It is an incest drama. Raymond Aibelli (Jeremy
Davies) has finished his first year of college, and appears to be heading to
medical school. On his way to a prestigious summer internship with the Surgeon
General's Office, he stops to visit his family. Dad is a traveling salesman
who is never home, but constantly browbeats him, either in person, or on the
phone. He drops the bombshell that mom has broken her leg and is clinically
depressed, and that he will have to blow off his summer internship and take
care of his mother, because dad is off on a marathon sales trip and a
different woman in his motel room every night.
The home atmosphere is unbearable, as mom (Alberta Watson) is a smothering,
castrating mother. Davies can't even "spank the monkey" in the privacy of the
bathroom, as the family dog badgers him. The only half-way bright spot in
Davies' life is meeting a High School junior, played by Carlo Gallo, who has a
crush on him. That developing relationship doesn't go well either. All of this
leads to the mother/son incest scene. The act was horrific enough, but it was
really the oppression Davies' was forced to live under that made the film so
Alberta Watson showed her breasts when her son would have to put her in the
shower, and then supply a shoulder for her to hold herself upright. Liberty
Jean, as one of dad's bedmates, does full frontal and rear nudity. Carla Gallo
is seen in a training bra. Gallo was 18 at the time of shooting, but was cast
out of a High School drama department, and looked the part.
IMDb readers have this at 6.5. It won the Sundance audience award, and two
Independent Spirit awards. Russell justifiably feels like he created a very
good film given budget and time constraints, but admits that he no longer
wants to make dark films, and, in fact, doesn't enjoy watching this one. A
talented cast and crew under good direction made a rather polished and very
effective film here. The question is, who would want to see it? Berardinelli
liked it at three stars. I would say I admired it more than liked it. This is
a C+. If the subject matter and mood interest you, by all means see it.
Dann reports on The Prophecy: Forsaken
I've been pretty impressed with
Kari Wuhrer's more recent movies, and this 2005 horror/thriller was
another enjoyable effort. She may have lost her big boobs, but her acting
skills have definitely gotten better.
One of a series of Prophecy movies, this one tells of a young
woman who is entrusted with protecting an ancient book from renegade
angels. The book contains the name of the baby who will trigger
Armageddon, and a person possessing the book would be in a position to
kill the baby and stop it. The movie presents an interesting theory of the
politics of heaven, and why an angel would want to do this.
There's lots of excitement and action, the story is interesting, the
acting is good, and I enjoyed this one a lot.