“Once rigor set in it would be very difficult for them to move Bernie’s joints,” Wescott said. “It will usually start to dissipate by 24 hours. So, for much of the movie he would have been in rigor.”
The next day after his death, Bernie is propped up in a golf cart, his arms waved at the locals. He even spends some time sunbathing by the pool. The whole time he looks good — healthy even!
In real life, this is what would happen: Soon after death, autolysis would begin. That is the process in which cells break down, and bacteria, fungi and protozoa start the putrefaction process, which produces several gases. Side effects include bloating, discoloration of the skin and a bad smell.