Director: Jonathan Wicks
Scorpion Releasing

Scorpion Releasing resurrects an early Steve Buscemi would-be cult film with their DVD of ED AND HIS DEAD MOTHER.

One year later, mama's boy Ed Chilton (Buscemi, FARGO) has been unable to move on with his life following the death of his domineering mother Mabel (Miriam Margolyes, THE AGE OF INNOCENCE) despite the efforts of his uncle Benny (Ned Beatty, DELIVERANCE) to interest him in the opposite sex – particularly sexy new neighbor Storm (Sam Jenkins, BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES) – and his Big Lar (Gary Farmer, ADAPTATION.) to get him to update the stock at his family hardware store from the items of which his mother approved. One day he is approached by Happy People company salesman A.J. Pattle (John Glover, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS) who offers to return Ed's mother to life for the too good to be true price of one thousand dollars. Since Ed doesn't have to pay a cent until Pattle produces his mother, he agrees (having been left sixty-thousand dollars in life insurance). Plans hit a snag when they discover that Ed's mother left organs to science and her body is in pieces, but Pattle says he can put her back together for another twenty-five hundred dollars. The next day, mom is back and things are like they were before, much to Uncle Benny's bewilderment and displeasure. She doesn't last long however, and Pattle charges Ed more for the secret of extended life and the very specific rules of administering it. When Mabel eats it all behind Ed's back, he and Benny notice changes in her starting with extraordinary energy and a hunger for human flesh, which she soon directs towards Storm when she threatens to replace her in Ed's affections (or she might just want another snack).

Bolstered by excellent lead performances by Buscemi (likable and awkward rather than creepy and scuzzy here), Beatty, and Margoyles, as well as amusingly broader turns by Farmer and Jonathan Gries (JOYSTICKS) as a thief bent on revenge against Ed's mother for pressing charges against him. Although it seems like it wants to be a quirky sleeper cult classic, it feels a bit too calculated in this respect, particularly with Glover's huckster, Rance Howard (CHINATOWN) – father of Ron and Clint – as a preacher shopping for hardware to kill his unfaithful wife, Mason Daring's "Happy People" jingle, a suburban setting that seems partially lodged in fifties nostalgia (by way of sets, props, and the lovely cinematography of COLD HEAVEN's Francis Kenny), and a script that pays only lip service to the underlying themes of letting go and moving on. The wraparound structure is clichéd and not really necessary, but ti does offer a welcome and amusingly profane appearance from the late Eric Christmas (WHISPERS). The make-up effects are credited to KNB Efx Group, but there's no real gore on display and an articulated severed head is mainly seen in long shot.

Released theatrically stateside by IRS Media, ED AND HIS DEAD MOTHER hit VHS via Fox but the rights had lapsed when it came time for the DVD release through Pathfinder Pictures (typical of their product, it was PAL-converted and non-anamorphic, but it did feature an audio commentary). Scorpion's DVD features an attractive HD-mastered progressive, anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen transfer – apart from two brief flashes of pixilation during the opening credits – where bolder hues are evident primarily in the wardrobe apart from some striking red gel lighting in a bar scene. The Dolby Digital 2.0 rendering of the Ultra Stereo track is in fine condition.

Although the disc drops the audio commentary, it does include an isolated music and effects track (also in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo) as well as the film's theatrical trailer (1:35). The feature can be viewed with an optional "Katarina's Nightmare Theater" intro and post-script in which the hostess resurrects her twin sister Antoinette who wakes up with an appetite for human flesh. She notes the more recognizable credits of the major players (as well as the fact that bit player Dawn Hudson is now the CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). Besides the film's theatrical trailer (1:35), the disc also includes trailers for GRIZZLY, TOWER OF EVIL (under the HORROR OF SNAPE ISLAND title), THE POM-POM GIRLS, DEATH SHIP, and THE UNSEEN. Licensed from ITV, Scorpion's DVD of ED AND HIS DEAD MOTHER is coded for Region 1 playback only. (Eric Cotenas)