Portia de Rossi
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
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Dead and Breakfast (2004)
4th May 06
Six young people get more than they bargained for when they stay at David Carradine's Bed & Breakfast.
Review Dead and Breakfast is set in a town called Lovelock. That's already a good start, because it not only namechecks one of our favourite Italian b-movie actors here at eatmybrains, but it's also a wicked name for a town soon to be overun with possessed people. Who occasionally break into song. Yeah, you heard me. This is not just another horror film, but one whose tongue is so firmly in its cheek that it's easy to overlook any minor weaknesses. It made me laugh quite hard, and David Carradine is in it, too. And did I mention there's a town called Lovelock?
Take six younglings, put them in a mobile home on route to a wedding. Make them stop at a town called...Lovelock, where they stay at a Bed and Breakfast. When they awaken the next morning the owner (who looks suspciously like the man from Kung-Fu and Chuck Norris' nemesis in Lone Wolf McQuade) is found dead. The chef - a Frenchman called Henri - is also found very dead. Soon the younglings are entangled in a murder investigation helmed by redneck local Sheriff (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who says classic small-town-Sheriff stuff like "Y'all think yer pretty darn smart," but suspicion soon falls onto another interloper - a drifter who doesn't speak loudly enough but looks like he's on a mission to save humanity (if the local people can be called humans) from some kind of evil spririts. Soon, and with the assistance of our young friends, that's exactly what he must do, as the entire town population (i.e. not too many people) become possessed, screaming for blood and looking a bit like, well, zombies.
Dead and Breakfast is the type of movie where characters have arguments about whether or not the aggressors outside are zombies or not. It knows exactly where it's coming from and packs plenty of inventive gore in alongside its many, many jokes and funny characters. Some of this movie was so funny that I found myself using that well-worn rewind button, like during the scene where the Sheriff, aware that he's going to have to put up a good fight to survive, arms himself with normal household appliances like knives and suchlike, demonstrating to himself (and us) just how hard he wants to stab the nasty possessed outside. He throws the spoon away, just before noticing a chainsaw lying in the corner. Ah...the chainsaw. Don't you just love it when a character in a horror movie who has to fight loads of possessed people / zombies realises there's a chainsaw within arm's reach? It brings back Evil Dead 2 every time, and that ain't no bad thing.
If the Sheriff doesn't have you rocking with laughter, then Enis - yes, he's really called Enis - his slow-witted deputy, is sure to do the trick. Writer-Director Matthew Leutwyler just loves to poke fun at the ignorant small-town types here, and it works an absolute treat, especially with a dumb ass deputy who says things like, "You can't leave yet. The investigation is still under...investigation." Also on offer in terms of small town comedy characters is a hilarious Town Records Clerk, who arms herself to the teeth in full army battle uniform, in order to protect her town records from the possessed.
One of the most unusual aspects of this neat little zomcom however is the music. To say it is prominent is understating it - this is also a zombie musical; we get to see the possessed doing a dance routine (which looks suspiciously like the one in Michael Jackson's Thriller) to what may be best termed as country-meets-hip-hop in the street outside the B&B. Anything goes here, and it should've been seen coming because with every subsequent chapter of the movie, the local country singer, named Randall Keith Randall (Zach Selwyn), performs a little ditty to fill us in on the narrative proceedings, after which the scene is set with a comic-art rendering which dissolves into real live action.
Small town comedy hicks aside, the characters here are solid and entertaining. The gorgeous Ever Carradine turns in a great performance as Sara, as does Jeremy Sisto (from May) as Christian, who loses his head before too long. These young characters are a real live bunch and it's not just the men who get stuck in, leaving catatonic females gibbering in the corner; the chicks get stuck into the action and save the day by - get this - building a shotgun. And yes, many dead heads are blasted to smithereens using this lethal peice of piping. However, for all the genre inventiveness this little movie showcases, you know what? It's great to see that the common denominator of running into a house and boarding up the doors and windows to fight off the invading hoardes - a device that's been in place since Romero's first Dead installment all those years ago - is still in place today. It's comforting to know that some things just don't change. And we wouldn't want them to.