In the case of Dead & Breakfast, we do find a relatively scary little Zombie flick, which in many cases has quite a lot of value in the form of humor, but equally as often ends up right smack dab in the toilet. As an often hilarious action/ horror/ comedy/ musical, Dead & Breakfast seems bent upon becoming the proverbial iconoclast of the genre system, and in its very displaced nature it's become a surprise favorite for fans who call it "Underrated". When that happens to any film, it becomes a "Cult" flick, and when a film like Dead & Breakfast becomes that, we can all guess what follows: It manages to find itself "Overrated".
Ironic, isn't it?
Much is made of the cast, which is simply filled with faces and names that you... might recognize, however, oft times these appearances are less than cameos and at other times the recognizable actors wander in and out of scenes, which simply shouts "Scheduling Conflict"!
The plot, laced together with self-drawing comic book frames, begins as a group of friends travel via RV to the wedding if their bitchy friend Kelly (Portia de Rossi whose screen time amounts to almost twenty seconds). When the goofball driver of the group, Johnny (Oz Perkins, Tony's Son) gets the whole clan as lost as the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815, it's decided they should swing into your typical backwoods gas station (seen in every third horror flick), and stay at your typical backwoods Bed & Breakfast.
In case the title of this film is as lost on you as the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815, the Bed & Breakfast soon becomes overrun with Zombies in a spoof of damned near every similar flick you can imagine, from Night of the Living Dead to Thriller, to, dare I say it, Dead & Buried! The difference here is just how this happens, which sets this fun one aside from most derivative horror comedies. See, the hotel is owned by a man named Wise (David Carradine) who is part Rooster Cogburn and part Mako. It's also managed by a dimwitted French Chef named Henri (Diedrich Bader) who is part Lurch and part Boris Badenov. The last thing that our implied leading man and lady Christian (Jeremy Sisto) and Sara (David's Neice Ever Dawn Carradine) is to be doing anything but wise-crackin' and perhaps helping their hot friend Kate (Bianca Lawson) to control her obnoxious and drunk boyfriend David (Erik Palladino). Unfortunately, that's not quite what happens, and quicker than you can say Joel Robinson, a large percent of these aforementioned characters are dead as thumb screws, all because old Johnny couldn't keep his hands to himself.
Yep, yep, yep, yep, Dead & Breakfast has the distinction of being quite possibly the only zombie movie whose undeadening takes place because of a... Buddhist Curse. Johnny touches "The Box", and soon becomes a commander of a zombie hoard, jam-packed with anyone he can lay his grubby hands on. If your DNA can fit in the box, you immediately become an asshole in the service of Johnny-boy! Old Oz is no "Bad Ash", but he makes one hell of a funny and sarcastic demon-leader. Luckily, when Buddhist Zombies are on the foot a lone Buddhist drifter (Brent David Fraser) wanders into town with something similar to all the answers. Why can't my bank be this convenient?
From this point we're treated to scene after scene of partying zombies, exasperated humans (none too exasperated to wax poetic or crack wise), and enough on-the-fly mythology to make an episode of Charmed feel like The Epic of Gilgamesh. Soon sweet Sara is tracking down the creepy origins of "The Box", along with the town's Sheriff (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Sheriff's favorite person, the Buddhist drifter. Where it goes is creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, not to mention altogether Ookie!
Aside from you close friends of Horror and Comedy, for you cameo-hounds out there, this is your movie! In addition to the above mentioned names, we get appearances by Mark Kelly, Miranda Bailey, Gina Philips and one of my all time favorites, Vincent Ventresca!
Writer/ Director Matthew Leutwyler keeps the horror and comedy going at full speed with the help of co-writers Jun Tan and Billy Burke. There are some great lines and tributes to the flicks they spoof in their living script. There is a lot of good to be enjoyed here, and usually the fun is accompanied by laughter. This is especially true in the form of the Jonathan Richman-esque narrator Randall Keith Randall (Zach Selwyn), who, along with his guitar, has a country-music-accompanied comment for everything... before and after he becomes a zombie. The guy is hilarious! How many people can say they've led an army of the undead in a line dance to that rare amalgam of country-horror-rap? Well, you know, besides those employed by the Bush administration?
On the other hand, Leutwyler and company give the impression that they're throwing as many bowls of Ramen against the wall as they can boil, just to see what will stick. As funny as Dead & Breakfast is, and it is, the audience has to wait and wade through comedic experiment after comedic experiment until feather finally connects with funnybone! Often, they seem to be showing what a dull film this would've been without old Zach playing Greek Chorus for them. At its least funny, D&B falls back on the ancient and honorable tradition of reveling in the B-Movie dregs, simply daring the audience not to laugh. "It's SUPPOSED to be bad!", Luetwyler occasionally screams. The result of these ups and downs result in an uneven and convoluted film, but one that never quite crosses over into "Le Bad Cinema".
Uneven or not, it's a funny splatter film. Its gross special effects makeup (by Michael Mosher) is generally pretty darned good, and manages to keep this comedy firmly in the "horror" category. It's good to enjoy a silly movie that doesn't take itself too seriously. However, as far as Zombie Spoofs go, Dead & Breakfast is no Shaun of the Dead. Hell, it's not quite Dead Alive. Those of you munches out there who say that it is are loading the overrating like a hay stacked 66 Chevy Truck. But at Three Stars out of Five, Dead & Breakfast is a fair amount more on the nutritious side than it is on the Texaco Rest Room side. So until Oz Perkins is given the shot to remake Psycho II with James Ripley playing HIS part, I'll see you in the next reel. Hmmm... I wonder who he'd get to do the nude scene in that picture? I'm gonna go see what my wife's doin'.