Ed and His Dead Mother (1993, directed by Jonathan Wacks)

After the death of his mother (Miriam Margoyles), shy Ed (Steve Buscemi) inherits the family hardware store.  Even though Ed now has his own business and maybe even a chance at having a relationship with Storm Reynolds (Sam Jenkins), Ed simply cannot leave the memory of his mother behind.  One day, he is approached by a salesman named A.J. Peddle (John Glover).  Peddle explains that he can bring Ed’s mother back to life for a thousand dollars.  Ed agrees and soon, Ed’s mother is once again living with Ed and Ed’s Uncle Benny (Ned Beatty).  Benny is upset because he doesn’t think that it’s proper to tamper in matters of morality and he never liked his sister to begin but, at first, Ed is happy to have her back.  However, Ed soon discovers that his mother has changed now that she’s come back to life.  She now has a craving for blood and soon, she’s chasing the neighborhood dogs while holding a knife.  Ed’s mom has returned as a zombie!  Can Ed finally move on and commit to sending his mother back to the grave?

This quirky comedy came out in 1993, a few years too early to take advantage of either the zombie boom or the horror comedy boom.  The movie never really find the right balance between scares and laughs.  The script is full of funny lines and Steve Buscemi and Ned Beatty are a good comedic team but the direction is as flat and as lifeless as Ed’s mom before she was resurrected.  Today, the movie is mostly interesting as a precursor for later trends in horror.  It’s also a chance to see Steve Buscemi is rare starring role.  Buscemi is ideally cast as the gentle Ed, who eventually learns the importance of letting go, accepting death, and moving on.  Buscemi is good, even in a misfire like this one.

Just two years after starring in this movie, Buscemi would appear on Homicide: Life on the Streets, playing a white supremacist murderer named Gordon Pratt.  Among the detectives assigned to arrest Pratt was Stanley Bolander, played by Ned Beatty.  As far as I know, that’s the only other pairing of Buscemi and Beatty and there wasn’t much to laugh about in that episode of Homicide.  It’s too bad because, judging from their interactions in this movie, Ned Beatty and Steve Buscemi could have been one of the great comedy teams.

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