Drop Dead Fred (1991)

drop dead fred

“Oh I love those breaky noises!”

The Scoop: 1991 PG-13, directed by Ate de Jong and starring Phoebe Cates, Rik Mayall, and Marsha Mason.

Tagline: Imagine having this guy for a friend

Summary Capsule: Quite possibly the worst imaginary friend ever comes back into the life of a woman with terminally bad fashion sense.


Eunice’s rating: Three 1/2 booger flicks out of 5.

Eunice’s review: Way back when I was a brand new “Mini-Mutant” the first movie I suggested for review was Drop Dead Fred. It’s one of those that if you meet someone else who’s seen it you start quoting lines to each other. The danger however in going back and watching something as an adult that you saw about a million times as a kid is that it’ll never, ever, be what you remember.

I think a coworker of mine put it best when she was telling me how she had rented DDF to share with her nine year old son. She got as far as Young Elizabeth saying “What a pile of ****!” (for those who don’t know, that’s roughly three minutes in) when she turned it off. Re-watching it later, she told me, “It was a lot different than the DDF in [her] head.”

If you looked up the definition to “door mat” you’d find a picture of Lizzie (Phoebe Cates, whatever happened to her?). In one day she loses her cheating husband (Tim Matheson in the ‘90s, so you know he’s a real sleaze), her job, car, and money, and is forced by her controlling mother (hereafter to be referred to as the Mega Beast) to move back in. Also she dresses like an eight-year-old with no fashion sense. While back in her childhood pink nightmare room — which hasn’t changed since she was six, apparently — she finds a beat up Jack-in-the-Box with tape all around it. Tearing the tape off, she accidently releases imaginary friend, Drop Dead Fred.

The manic Fred (played by comedian Rik Mayall) makes Lizzie’s already craptastic life even worse through property damage and making her look like a nut job because no one else can see Fred. He has to deal with the fact she’s not little anymore, and she has to work out her issues, because he wouldn’t still be around if she didn’t need him.

For myself, I first found DDF in the kid’s section (the heck?!) in the same video place that had Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam, and, like my coworker, remembered it being much different. I think most of the grown up jokes must’ve went over my head (though I did remember the “cobwebs” bit and the naked waiter), and the cursing I forgot completely.

But the biggest difference was I remember it being darker and scarier. The Mega Beast was right up there with Pennywise and The Black Hole’s Maximillian as movie villains that freaked me out as a kid. I mean, she hires a big burly henchwoman to strong arm her own kid! And the ending was MUCH grimmer in my memories.

Now DDF just seems like a weird movie. The cursing and more sexual jokes make it not so kid friendly, but parts are so silly that it doesn’t feel like it was completely meant for adults either. Too mean spirited and depressing for a straight comedy, but not enough to be a dark comedy. It’s like… it’s like… You know the restaurant scene in Scrooged? Where no one else can see the eyeballs and the guy on fire and everyone thinks Bill Murray is crazy? Mate that scene with Beetlejuice, stretch it out 103 minutes, and tie it up with an emotional child abuse ribbon and you got DDF. An odd duck for sure, and I don’t know if I’d like it without the warm glow of nostalgia, but it’ll always have a spot in my heart and a place on my Quotable Movies list.

Even with the snot jokes.

This is actually one of her better couch upholstery chic dresses.


  • Is it just me, or does Mickey seem like he’s about one good push from being a serial killer?
  • Lizzie’s dad is kinda hot. Just sayin’.
  • Montage! (Montage!)
  • “I’m the pirate who doesn’t touch anything.” VeggieTales anyone?
  • For trying to beat up an imaginary friend at work, Carrie Fisher may be the best movie friend ever!
  • And that’s why I never accessorize with grapes.
  • Then and now, kissing your imaginary friend on the mouth is kinda icky.
  • Notice no dog poo when Lizzie catches the inkwell.
  • The ball (?) on Velcro Head’s head falls off while all the imaginary friends are dancing around, but it’s in place during the close up.
  • Gene Siskel’s pick for the worst film of 1991.

Groovy Quotes

Janie: Pain makes you interesting.
Elizabeth: Janie…
Janie: Look at Elvis.
Elizabeth: Yeah, but didn’t Elvis kill himself?
Janie: Yes, but before that he was very very interesting.

Fred: Hello, Snotface!

Fred: Hey, maybe there’s a stake in there. We could drive it right through her heart!

Nurse: I’ve got a black belt, and I could break you like *snaps* that. You’re gonna behave. Conscious or unconscious, it’s all the same to me.

Young Elizabeth: Daddy, why don’t we throw mommy out the window? It won’t hurt her. She’ll land in the gladiolies.
Nigel: You shouldn’t say things like that about your mother. She might cut your head off.

Fred: I don’t love you ’cause love is for girls and girls are disgusting.

Fred: I’m not afraid of the Mega Beast!
Young Elizabeth: I’m not either, when she comes in here we’ll make her eat up all this mud!
Fred: Yeah… and then we’ll cut her head off!
Young Elizabeth: With scissors!
Fred: Yeah… and then we’ll make her eat it!
Young Elizabeth: Make her eat her own head? With what?
Fred: Oh yeah… well I’ll eat her head then.
Young Elizabeth: And I’ll eat the rest of her!
Fred: Yeah! And then we’ll get up and poo her all over the table ‘cause we’re not afraid of anything!

Elizabeth: I’m not afraid of you!

Fred: Look, you’ve got you now. You don’t need me.

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  1. I remember the old beat up VHS we had of this when I was a kid. I don’t really recall any of it too clearly, other than I think I cried every time Fred was taken away from Young Elizabeth, and I’m pretty sure this movie inspired my own imaginary friend. But even back then I knew she had some ugly dresses!

  2. I think this was supposed to be Rik Mayall’s state-side “break-out” movie. He had a run on “The Young Ones” in England. By the way, WHAT has “The Young Ones” not been reviewed yet???

    • I feel decidedly mixed about that. I’ve seen him be very funny (like in Forgetting Sarah Marshall), but I look at him and just want to smack him until my arm hurts.

  3. I remember watching this movie when I was eight.
    Yikes. And at that point I was already watching Friday the 13th.

  4. I actually watched this for the first time, well…right now actually. I’m at the scene where she and Mickey try to go out on a lunch date and Fred’s doing what Fred does best. It’s been a very weird movie so far and I’m not quite sure whether or not I like it all. I have to say, though, that Phoebe Cates made me laugh out loud with her facial expressions while Fred’s making her pour her glass of water all over the table.

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