A slapstick comedy of corpse abuse, OVER HER DEAD BODY was overshadowed by the the superficially similar dead-guy farce WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S, made around the same time. But this is far darker fare, opening with a baby-in-the-oven joke and heading south from there.
The film opens in a dreary little New Mexican town circa 1959, where hateful toddler Enid tries to roast her infant sister June alive. It then flashes ahead thirty years to the present. Enid (Maureen Mueller) is now a white-trash bitch with tacky Vegas clothing, a beehive hairdo and kookie
sunglasses. To the strains of Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" Enid arrives unexpectedly at her puke-pink desert house and catches cop-husband Harry (the ever-askew Judge Reinhold) in bed with the adult June (Elizabeth Perkins). "D'ya mean to tell me you've been dinkin' my own stinkin'
sister?!" Enid shrieks at her man, in a typical sample of the film's verbal wit. Her homicidal rage ends only when mousy June smashes a ceramic clown over her head, evidently killing her. The adulterous lovers pull themselves together and conspire to make Enid's death look like a traffic accident,
a torturous exercise that takes the rest of the running time.
As a distracted Harry puts in a token appearance at work, the increasingly hysterical June drives all over the county with the corpse rigged with fishing line like a macabre puppet so onlookers will think Enid's still alive. But efforts to dispose neatly of the body go disasterously wrong time and
time again. Foiling their scheme are a set of backwater grotesques straight from Gagwriting 101: there's Floyd (Jeffrey Jones), Harry's patrol partner, obsessed with urban violence and always chattering about the latest sicko mayhem; a senile garage mechanic (Henry Jones); a fey motel manager
(Michael J. Pollard); some mutant desert cretins listening to a crazed radio evangelist; and a couple of murderous holdup men. "I'm gonna ride you like a Harley on a bad road," gurgles a lustful cowboy drunk (Brion James) to the spread-eagled Enid. He immediately passes out face-down in the
cadaver's crotch, whereupon June comes upon the scene and scolds Enid: "I can't leave you alone for one second, can I?" All this and post-mortem flatulence too; one soon feels that the only cheap laugh left out is that Enid isn't dead after all. Guess what?
The ceramic clown used to whack Enid is an apt metaphor for the bludgeon-like quality of OVER HER DEAD BODY's humor, with its stereotyped yahoos, needless swearing, and single-situation plot. A comedy of frustration is always tough to pull off, but when a film's entire running time is expended on
a couple of goofs failing repeatedly at the same task, it can become an equally frustrating ordeal for the audience unless some evolving element is introduced and developed in an interesting way.
In OVER HER DEAD BODY that's supposed to be the downtrodden June, played with a wounded expression by bleached-blonde Elizabeth Perkins. While she chauffeurs her late sister around in a yellow convertible June begins a one-way dialogue with the body, recapping their whole relationship, their
dead-end lives in the podunk town, and their tawdry rivalry over Harry; it's the first meaningful conversation she's ever had with Enid, get it? June sustains not only an emotional pounding but a physical one, getting muddied, bloodied and charred (again) before the show ends. Perkins is the last
actress one would expect to do a Wile E. Coyote act, but she performs the schtick with aplomb. June's breakdown is the funniest thing about the film .
The movie was filmed in and around Santa Fe in 1989 under the auspices of Vestron Pictures, the ill-fated motion picture division of Vestron Video. Vestron declared bankruptcy on the final week of shooting, and although the completed OVER HER DEAD BODY enjoyed some success on the domestic festival
circuit, no US distributor took a chance on broad theatrical exhibition. Originally titled ENID IS SLEEPING, the comedy was released theatrically overseas, but was dubiously enshrined in the US as a 1992 B-grade video release.
Director and co-screenwriter Maurice Phillips (ANOTHER YOU) disapproved of the new title, but it turned out to be ironically apt; a lawsuit reportedly germinated from the OVER HER DEAD BODY video-box art because it used the faces of Elizabeth Perkins and Judge Reinhold without authorization,
photographically transplanted atop the posed bodies of others. (Violence, substance abuse, excessive profanity, sexual situations, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: A slapstick comedy of corpse abuse, OVER HER DEAD BODY was overshadowed by the the superficially similar dead-guy farce WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S, made around the same time. But this is far darker fare, opening with a baby-in-the-oven joke and heading south from… (more)