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Over Her Dead Body
(a.k.a. Enid Is Sleeping)
(1990/1992)

Director: Maurice Phillips
Cast:
Elizabeth Perkins, Judge Reinhold, Maureen Mueller


Over the many years I have been living on this earth (well, not that many years), I have had, just like you, a wide range of experiences. Some of these experiences have been one-time things, and some of these experiences are ones that I have experienced multiple times. Some of the experiences have been good, and some of the experiences have been bad. Whether each individual experience has been unique or not, whether the experience in question has been good or not, I have learned something from each and every one of these experiences. And what I have learned has more often than not helped me with experiences that subsequently happened in the future. Some of these subsequent experiences that past experiences have helped me with include experiences that have happened outside of my home. For instance, there have been times in my past when I have been out of work and have been looking for job. I usually had to have a number of interviews with many different prospective employers before I landed a job. With each interview, I learned just how I could improve my impression to subsequent interviewers, and that in turn increased the likelihood that I would eventually get hired by one employer or another. Although I am currently not looking for a job, I still find myself thinking of past experiences as I go about my life in the world. This morning, for example, I went shopping at a local supermarket. As I carried my basket around the aisles, I looked at the price of every item I was thinking of buying. And from my experience shopping at other supermarkets, I knew whether I should buy the item in that particular supermarket I was currently in, or hold off buying the item and wait until I was at another supermarket so I could get the item at a lower price.

Even when I am not in the big wide world, I find myself using past experiences in my apartment. For example, recently my kitchen sink's drain became clogged, and using a bottle of Drano did not help the problem. I knew from past experience that plumbers often used steel cables stuffed down drains to clear clogs... but I also knew from experience that hiring a plumber to do such a thing would be expensive. From those past learned facts, I quickly came across with an effective (and no cost) solution to my problem - I jammed the handle of a long spoon down my sink, and I cleared the clog in just a few seconds. Other past experiences have helped me with various other problems in my home over the years. For example, several times I have had the problem of having a dead body in my home from the result of defending myself against agents of Telefilm Canada wanting to silence me for bashing Canadian cinema so much. What I have seen in films over the years has educated me greatly. For example, in Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, I learned that sawing a body into various pieces is a lot of hard (and messy) work. From other movies I have learned various other body removal methods that are probably unwise, like using acid in the bathtub to dissolve a body. (You need a lot of acid, and the fumes from the subsequent dissolving may alert people who are nearby.) Despite the help I've gotten from movies over the years, I have learned that the proper body disposal methods you learn over time. Currently, the method I use is to wrap the body in a carpet and simply carrying the rolled carpet out of the building. Then take the body deep into a national park and bury it, since it's very unlikely construction will happen in the area that could uncover the buried body.

To tell the truth, I think that I will have to alter my body disposal method to a significant degree sometime soon in the future. The other people in my building are starting to think it very odd that I keep carrying out rolls of Over Her Dead Bodycarpet out of my apartment suite, especially since the suites in my building were not carpeted when the building was originally built. So I have lately been seeking out movies that have to do with body disposal. Recently I came across such a movie at my local discount store, Over Her Dead Body. The movie promised to be all about how to dump a body in a way that makes it look like an accident, a novel approach I have never tried before. But there were other things about the movie that interested me. I learned the movie was made for theaters, but the distributor (Vestron Pictures) went bankrupt shortly before filming was completed. The movie, when completed, did play at a few film festivals, but after those brief play dates was dumped straight to video in North America despite its notable cast. The focus of the movie is on three characters in New Mexico, sisters Enid (Mueller, One Live To Live) and June (Perkins, The Flintstones), and Enid's policeman husband Harry (Reinhold, Beverly Hills Cop). We learn from the beginning of the movie that Enid has always been jealous of her little sister, and no doubt feels superior to June because she is married and June isn't. But we soon learn that June is in a relationship - with Harry! Yes, June and Harry are having an affair, one they are trying to keep secret from Enid. But one day Enid finds out about the affair by accidentally walking into June and Harry having fun in bed. Naturally, Enid blows her top at the sight of her husband and June in bed together. There is subsequently a struggle between the three people, and in the struggle Enid gets struck on the head and collapses still on the floor. June and Harry freak out, and worry that they will be arrested and imprisoned for murder. So they make a plan to stage an accident with Enid's body while beforehand making it appear she is still alive. June agrees to transport Enid's body elsewhere and fake an accident, while Harry returns to his job so that everything will appear normal at his end. But the two of them soon learn that while death may be easy, disposal of a body is much harder than they thought!

If you are thinking that elements of the plot for Over Her Dead Body sound like they were inspired by Weekend At Bernie's (which came out the previous year) you are not alone - that's what went through my head when I first learned about this movie. However, since movies typically go though several years of development before filming actually starts, more likely than not it was a coincidence that two black comedies involving a corpse that is manipulated to make it appear it's still alive were released just a short time apart. So that aspect of the movie didn't bother me. That is not to say, however, that I found Over Her Dead Body to be free of problems. There are a few significant flaws here and there. One big flaw that should have been fixed before filming started is with the introduction of the three main characters and the set-up of the conflict involving them. This is best explained by revealing the fact that Enid is conked on the head and drops like a stone when only about six minutes of the movie has previously passed by. As you can probably guess from that fact, that doesn't exactly leave a lot of room to properly go into depth about these characters. Enid is shown to be a mean person in both a brief childhood flashback and a briefer adult period just before getting wacked. But that's not enough. There has to be some reason why she is so hateful, but we never learn why. We also don't get to see any other side to her - surely she has something other than a completely hateful personality. The movie also doesn't give us a good look at the affair Harry is having with Enid's sister. What exactly drew these two characters together? Are they really in love, or is their affair just for sexual purposes? We also don't get the answers to questions like these. There is the rest of the movie to follow, but even what's to come doesn't exactly give us good insight into these characters' minds.

There's another flaw in the movie, a flaw that happens more than once. There are several moments when key linking footage seems to be missing. For example, after Harry leaves for work and June gets to work on transporting Enid's body to her car, shortly afterwards June calls Harry to say that Enid's body is stuck in a door frame. But we don't see this until Harry drives back to the home to get Enid's body unstuck. Much later in the movie, when June is in the desert, she calls Harry to say that she buried Enid's body. But we never got to see any part of this burial. I don't know if head-scratching moments like this were due to incompetence by director Maurice Phillips, or that Vestron's bankruptcy prevented every planned scene to be filmed, but whatever the reason, there is a feeling every so often that footage is missing. I could bring up a few other nitpicks I had with Over Her Dead Body, but even bringing up those problems would not overcome the fact that for the most part I had a good time watching this movie. The movie is flawed, but its positive attributes number much more than the negative ones. One reason the movie works is that it has a great cast. The standout star is Elizabeth Perkins. She plays dumb in a way that is amusing instead of annoying, but she also does very well in a few scenes when she's alone with Enid's body and starts talking to herself. Her expert delivery in these scenes gives her character dimension, making her more than simple white trash. Judge Reinhold also gives his character spark, and makes his characters frequent panic attacks and reckless behavior hilarious, while making sure not to go too far and turn his character into a cartoon. Another actor who deserves kudos is Jeffrey Jones (Ferris Bueller's Day Off), as Harry's policeman partner. Jones is often quite funny, an eccentric character who several times gets dangerously close to finding out Harry's secret. These scenes, as well as his dumfounded reactions to Harry's increasingly bizarre behavior deliver a number of good solid laughs.

There are also some actors in the supporting cast who deserve some mention. Michael J. Pollard (The Art Of Dying) has an amusing cameo as a weird motel clerk, and Brion James (Nightmare At Noon) brings some laughs as a drunk who stumbles upon Enid's body a couple of times in the movie, each time complicating June's plans to hilarious effect. I laughed at James' scenes for the same reason I laughed at the other portions of the movie that I found funny. And that reason being that the various situations in the movie are not only extremely believable, you'll be able to relate to them to some angle or another. Sure, you may never have had a corpse on your hands to get rid of, but when June accidentally locks her keys in a car with Enid's body in the front seat (and an impatient gas station attendant hovering nearby), or later when June unknowingly slams her dress in the door of a car she is preparing to push off a cliff, you'll be saying to yourself, "Yes, that very well could happen!" Maybe it's a little hard to swallow that all these bad things keep happening to June and Harry as they try to dispose of Enid's body, but individually they are so believable (and hilarious) that you can't help but smile and laugh. Over Her Dead Body's frequent hilarity is more than enough to sell itself to a receptive audience, but there is another joy to be found while you are watching it. With most movies, you can more or less guess what will happen at the end long before the movie gets to that point. Not so with this movie. All throughout, there is ample evidence for a number of possible endings, so much so that the ending the movie does come up with turns out to be a genuine surprise. It's not a totally satisfying ending - it definitely feels that there is more story to be told between the last shot and when the movie cuts to the end credits. But even with that quibble added to the ones I talked about earlier, Over Her Dead Body still manages to end up being an energetic and often quite funny comedy.

(Posted March 21, 2015)

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See also: Cold Turkey, Fire Sale, I Wonder Who's Killing Her Now

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