When a credit at the end of a film reads “Miss Kimble – the chick with the foaming mouth and the hammer in her head“, if it doesn’t get a laugh then chances are you haven’t enjoyed what came before it. There’s an association with a credit like that. It’s a ridiculous one and the filmmakers are acknowledging it since they clearly had fun making the film you’ve just seen. Dead and Breakfast is one of the goofiest horror films I’ve ever seen, although placing it within the “horror” genre is only due to its association with excessive blood splatters. This is by all means a comedy that is liable to make you guffaw as much as you gag.Crank up the ol’ roadtrip cliché. Six friends in a Winnebago get lost en route to their friends’ wedding and end up in the hick town of Lovelock. They’re taken in by bed & breakfast owner, Mr. Wise (David Carradine) and his grouchy French chef (Diedrich Bader, always good for a laugh). Neither will last the night (victims of a grisly murder and an apparent heart attack) and soon the sixsome is under suspicion by the local Sheriff (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Perhaps that peculiar drifter (Brent David Fraser) has something to do with it all.
Of course, writer/director Matthew Leutwyler has something more up his disembodied sleeve than just a murder mystery. They’ve been warned not to open the box that belonged to crazy Mr. Wise, but accidents do happen and soon its possession time. That will teach them not to mess with the spirits of baby fetuses. So it’s zombies-on-the-loose and "here we go again" speaks the undead initiated. I guarantee they’ve never seen one quite like this though. In the golden era of shlock, the film’s trailer might describe it as “the first rockabilly zombie splatter film.”
Get used to Zach Selwyn as Randall Keith Randall, the guitar-playing one-man Greek chorus because he’s there providing a running lyrical commentary on the events at hand, a la There’s Something About Mary. The gimmick seems like it would get old after a few interruptions (and some of them do fall flat.) But between managing to actually make a rimshot funny (and more than once) and hearing the words “hemoglobin in my mouth” in the catchiest of tunes (“We’re comin’ to kill ya”), I laughed more often than not and usually quite loudly.
Leutwyler and cronies are throwing kitchen sinks at us and for good measure the pipes that come with it, particularly the ones that fire shotgun shells. They know the audience for this film and have fun with what and when to reference right down to the Creepshow-esque picture postcards that intertwine with the action. Even the cast is a who’s who of past horror favorites: Jeremy Sisto (May), Gina Philips (Jeepers Creepers), Bianca Lawson (Bones) and even Oz Perkins played a young Norman Bates in Psycho II. Ever Carradine (TV's Once and Again) and Erik Palladino (ER) round out the cast and probably have the most fun with their roles.Dead and Breakfast doesn’t have much of a climax to speak of, but carries up to it enough huge laughs and over-the-top gore to please any genre fan. One bit with a chainsaw deserves placement alongside the lawnmower sequence in Peter Jackson’s classic “Dead-Alive”. D&B belongs to that sub-genre and draws comparisons with Jackson’s early work and the Evil Dead films. Horror enthusiasts should have no problems digesting the self-depreciation of Leutwyler’s efforts and the wacko twists he brings to the table. I certainly appreciated them and here’s hoping that it becomes another cult classic rather than just another film amongst the “D”’s on the video shelves.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Horror Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Horror Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Boston Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Boston Film Festival series, click here.