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Dead & Breakfast (2004)



How do you review a film that has "It's like a bad horror movie... only worse" as a tagline? In a calculated move, the makers have silenced critical input. If you don't like the movie, it's not like they didn't warn you...

Dead & Breakfast turns out to be an amusing enough piece of schlock. Inspired by such seminal splatstick works as The Evil Dead, Bad Taste, and Dead Alive, writer/director Matthew Leutwyler tosses together as many wacky-go-lucky gore jokes as he can muster for a weird romp through ghoul-town.

An RV full of wedding-bound "diverse" characters stop off in the hick town of Lovelock for the night. Forced by messy circumstances to stay even longer, they stumble upon a mystical box that really should not be opened. Of course, it's opened, and soon there's the typical zombie movie antics with a little more... dancing?

Leutwyler pours anything he thinks will be remotely chuckle-worthy into a blender and hits 'dice.' His desperation to make us laugh is occasionally funnier than the gags themselves, which too often rely on "unique" applications of gore. It's a goofy, "let's make a movie" energy that propels the film more than the actual humor.

The cast -- loaded with the kind of faces you know you've seen somewhere before -- attack their roles head-on. Leading the "main" gang is Erik Palladino ("ER"), who gives his plucky pugilist a dull-witted Rocky Balboa charm. He's backed-up by a snark-tastic Jeremy Sisto ("Six Feet Under"), a frequently annoyed Ever Carradine ("Once and Again"), the too-perfect Gina Philips (Jeepers Creepers), and geeky Oz Perkins (Anthony's son, which results in at least one direct Psycho reference). The males get to be the wacky ones, while the women mainly handle the parts of the movie where the actual plot (such as it is) needs to advance.

There's also a bevy of more familiar faces in minor supporting roles. David Carradine (Kill Bill) does what he does best -- look enigmatic and sage. Diedrich Bader has a laugh-worthy bit as a French cook and Portia de Rossi literally phones in her performance as an impatient bride.

The best part of Dead & Breakfast, however, is singer-songwriter-actor Zach Selwyn's country music interstitials. Not unlike There's Something About Mary, the film will stop every once and a while to let a hokey song comment on the action. It gets even more surreal after Selwyn gets turned into a ghoul; his beat gets a little more urban and he starts doing some visceral hip-hop numbers.

If you've seen the very Troma-esque trailer, you've seen the less gore-dependent gags already. Since the wordplay isn't all that witty, all that's left is the really bloody yuks. Luckily, there's quite a few of those and most have their Karo syrup charms. If you're in the mood for a horror film built enthusiastically stupid, Dead & Breakfast might do the trick.