Ed and His Dead Mother (1993) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Scoop's notes


#6 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. Slither

6. 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 miraculous process is ever discovered, it will undoubtedly be under the aegis of some corporate "lab," and will probably be the result of an 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 campaign.

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 something like that!

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 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.



  • There is a widescreen transfer, but it is letterboxed, not anamorphically enhanced, and is not especially vivid.
  • There is a full-length audio commentary by two movie critics.
  • An alternate ending
  • An alternate beginning
  • A small stills gallery



Sam Jenkins, as Buscemi's mysterious neighbor, shows her bum and her breasts in two separate scenes. Not bad at all for a PG-13 movie.

Nancy Reed shows her butt in a very brief appearance.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C. It's 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 clever character study about everyday people - except that it begins with a crazy premise. Think of Burt Lancaster in The Rainmaker, except Burt is selling the secret of re-animation

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