Imaginary Frenemy

My fiancé and I creatively collaborated for a third time! I introduced him to another one of my childhood favorites; the movie called Drop Dead Fred. At surface level, it’s a complete ridiculous bonkers film.. yet it’s deeply and colorfully good! We utilized this flick for his new-ish magazine called: Rob’s Video (you can purchase it here).

A doting mother reads her sweet daughter, Elizabeth, a wholesome bedtime story. The youngster asks: “Did they live happily ever after?” The mother replies: “Of course, if the beautiful, young girl had been naughty; the Prince Charming would’ve run away.” The little girl’s natural response was: “What a pile of shit!” Kids say the darndest things! And.. cue the early 90’s animated opening credits sequence! That’s how ya know it’s the start of an awesome flick!

The little girl, Elizabeth aka Lizzy, grows up to be dumped by her cheating husband, her car is stolen, along with her purse.. all on her lunch break! She returns late to work and.. she loses her job too! She’s forced to leave her apartment she shares with her douche husband because her overbearing Mother demands she come home with her. Elizabeth sleeps in her childhood bedroom where she finds her forgotten, closeted childhood toys, and one of them starts to play a musical tune in the middle of the night. As she opens the taped up Jack-in-the-Box, an orange and green puff ball poofs out, bounces about the room, and rolls under the pastel pink twin bed. Lizzy investigates this mysterious dust bunny and is startlingly reunited with her long-lost playful imaginary friend named.. Drop Dead Fred! He wreaks havoc.. and chaos ensues! You gotta check this flick out to see how!

Drop Dead Fred is not a movie for children, yet the trailer paints it to be quite innocent. How misleading, I know! This could be the reason why my folks let me watch this movie as a kid. It has a PG-13 rating, where the Mother is referred to as “The Mega Bitch” a couple times, however is later referred to as “The Mega Beast” so they could keep their PG-13 rating.

The brilliant portrayal of Drop Dead Fred was played by the late Rik Mayall, an English stand-up comedian, actor, writer, author, narrator, voice actor, and stage performer; the majority of his credits are from British productions. This is his only American role that I remember seeing him in growing up. Rik Mayall’s quick wit, comedic timing, and slapstick is the best I’ve seen next to the late Robin Williams, which makes sense as Williams was initially offered the role of Drop Dead Fred, however he chose to play Peter Banning in Hook instead.

The mousy Lizzy aka Elizabeth aka Snot-Face is played by the 80’s hottie Phoebe Cates best known from Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Gremlins. Lizzy’s best friend, Janie, is played by none other than.. Princess Leia! Ahem, I mean.. the late Carrie Fisher; she originally auditioned for Lizzy, but she was considered “too old.” Ugh, how rude!

In my previous movie reviews, of 1986’s Troll and 1988’s Mac & Me, they each had random musical/dance numbers that had no relevance to the storyline whatsoever; however this early 90’s flick, Drop Dead Fred, doesn’t have any of that. It’s unusual and immature all on its own! The humor is as lowbrow as it gets with picking of noses then wiping snot on faces, purposely walking in dog shit then stepping on freshly shampooed white carpet, looking up women’s dresses, brief male bare bottom nudity, and serving steamy mud pies for breakfast and dinner.

There are numerous special effects (for its modest budget of $6.7M = £3.6M) such as Drop Dead Fred pinballing around rooms along with cartoon sound effects (Boink! Aoogah! Splat! Zoom!), appearing/disappearing with a magical twinkle, a head being smashed by a fridge door, being run over by an oncoming fire truck and leaving only a pair of bright red shoes behind in the middle of the street, a deflated car whizzing about like a balloon, a magical tree growing out of a staircase, a body engulfed in flames, a set of eyeballs bulging out, and steam blasting out of some ears. Drop Dead Fred grossed $13.8M over its entire theatrical run and £1.7M in the UK.

I believe the reason why Drop Dead Fred resonates with me (still, after all these years) is because on the surface, it seems like a silly comedy; but it’s deeper than you can imagine! This movie is about embracing your inner child, using your imagination, and standing up for yourself even if no one believes in you. Speaking of “not believing,” Rotten Tomatoes gave Drop Dead Fred a rating of eleven percent (super lame), however it has an Audience Rating of seventy-seven percent, which I think speaks volumes to the mass of dedicated Drop Dead Fred fans who are more open-minded to this amazing dark fantasy screwball dramedy cult classic! You should give this one a try. It’s a goodie with a hilarious, fun loving baddie! I pinky promise you won’t be disappointed!

‘Twas such an honor that Jaimie asked me to collaborate with him, again, on his creative project, Rob’s Video ‘zine! As I mentioned in my Vintage Trolling and Intergalactic Pals blog posts, we were originally inspired to create vintage good/bad movie posters whilst watching the documentary: 24×36: A Movie About Movie Posters (highly recommend). Immediately after viewing the movie, Drop Dead Fred, we brainstormed the overall design of the movie poster: Fred popping out of the jack-in-the-box toy/prison, picking his nose, and wiping it on Elizabeth. Our final concept paints a clear yet disgusting picture of what kind of film this is: immaturely fun yet brilliant! Jaimie drew our ideas to life and I formatted the movie title, advertising slogan, and billing block. We will, for sure, color this movie poster, because it’s the most interestingly fun illustration we’ve conceptualized thus far. We will absolutely display it somewhere in our home. We just gotta find the wall space.. Ugh, haha!

I’m looking forward to collaborating with Jaimie again soon for his next issue of Rob’s Video! Please stay tuned. You don’t wanna miss it!

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Allison Hibbard

Free Spirit. Creative. Mermaid. Thrifty Shopper. Vessel of Fun Facts. Warrior. Old Soul. Writer. Empath.

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