The inspired fun and lunacy comes from how this simple premise is warped around, and manifested within the novelty of the created universe: The mother wrangles tentacles and squirts out doughy goo in the kitchen; the eldest son practices his bagpipe/keyboard/trombone/live-chicken-creature instrument for his big gig; the youngest son picks fat insects off the family "dog" ("he's infested") to use in his new "Splat Spray Game" with his troublemaking buddy Joey (pre-teen cynic, 80's cult regular Joshua John Miller); and their middle child daughter, a pre-fame Juliette Lewis, sprays her face with cosmetic machines in the bathroom, getting ready for a party. A whole system of amusing fictional terminology and lingo is even created (the daughter wants to use the mother's "Softening Jelly" and they threaten to discipline their children by sending them to the "Penetration Box") leaving the deduction of which up to the viewer's imagination.
Another delicious, bizarre and wonderful conceptual element is what lay beyond the walls of the house and what the outside world is like. The only scene that takes place outside the fantastical home is when the youngest son and his friend venture out through an abstract dark void to make their way to the main pipe station, to fill a list of ingredients for Mrs. Hollowhead. Along the way, they encounter a void bum, a team of "Reamers," that are dressed up in grey, brush outlined pipe cleaner tutus, and Stationmaster Babbleaxe (Anne Ramsey), who speaks with subtitles that even translate her grunts into insults (This idea might have been used due to the fact that because Ramsey suffered from throat cancer she had to have parts of her jaw and tongue removed, and as a result it affected her speech. She died shortly after this production and the film is "Lovingly Dedicated" to her.).
This was Thomas R. Burman's, a long time special make-up effects artist who has worked on everything from The Thing With Two Heads (1972) to My Bloody Valentine (1981) (he even worked with Anne Ramsey before on Throw Momma From The Train (1987)), first and only, so far, directed feature, but let's hope it is not the last. Lisa Morton co-concocted and wrote the great script in collaboration with Burman as a project for Burman to direct. Morton kept a journal during production which can be found online at Morton's site (www.lisamorton.com).
A good printed VHS and Laserdisc version was released by Image in November of 1989 but since then the film seems to have become public domain, because several super cheap video labels have released their own VHS and DVD versions with badly blown up pictures of Juliette Lewis on the cover, to cash in on her fame, and wrong credit listings. The film's original title was "Life On The Edge," but it was changed, and the film was cut and re-scored by the producers (they even added a horribly silly/stupid hip-hop/rap song to the credits). But even with those forced butcheries, the film remains astonishing. We would all lead happier, more exciting lives if more films like this got funded. Absolutely not to be missed! Highly Recommended!