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Anchor Bay
MSRP: $19.99
Deleted scenes
Blooper reel
Photo gallery

The Pitch

“It’s Night of the Living Dead meets U-Turn!”

The Humans

Several attractive actors, some hillbillies, Diedrich Bader

The Nutshell

A group of dubious acquaintances are piled into an RV on a lengthy trek to a friend’s wedding. These sundry stereotypes include Drunken Fighter (ex-ER doc Erik Palladino), Queen Bitch (replacement slayer Bianca Lawson), Mellow Dude (indie regular Jeremy Sisto), Spiritual Girl (Gina Philips of Jeepers Creepers), Quiet Weirdo (Oz Perkins, son of Psycho Anthony), and Our Heroine (Ever Carradine, bearing a rather uncanny resemblance to Uma Thurman).

When this traveling troupe of people who’d never actually hang out together in real life gets lost out in the sticks, they come across the sleepy town of Lovelock and check in to the local bed & breakfast for the night. Shortly thereafter, the chef is found murdered and the proprietor (David Carradine, who’s around for all of three minutes) drops dead of a heart attack, and the next day the kids are waylaid by the typically inept sheriff department until the matter can be investigated further.

"Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, playa? My ass ain’t on here — oooohh, it’s like that."

A mysterious drifter at the jailhouse warns the friends of a dangerous “spirit box” at the bed & breakfast, but too late! One of them has already become possessed and goes on a bloody rampage through the tiny town, using the box’s power to turn the townsfolk into pawns and invading the local hoedown on his quest to… do something that involves killing everyone else. Retreating to the bed & breakfast, the remaining survivors must figure out a way to resolve the matter, which mostly involves improvising methods of blasting the heads from the undead residents’ necks.

The Package

I may have found the movie itself a bit disappointing, but I certainly can’t fault Anchor Bay when it comes to kit. Sheathed in a lenticular slipcase, the disc contains the unrated flick and is stocked with deleted and extended scenes, a blooper reel and a stills gallery. Plus there’s a pair of engaging commentaries, both featuring writer-director Matthew Leutwyler and chum Palladino, on one joined by makeup guy Michael Mosher and actor-musician Zach Selwyn while the better of the tracks has Perkins, Ever Carradine and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The widescreen transfer looks as good as possible (the movie isn’t what I’d consider particularly well shot), and the 5.1 Dolby audio is clear in regards to music and dialogue, and nice and raucous when the necessary slaughter occurs.

Karla was thrilled. She only needed Geoffrey Lewis and Billy Mumy, and her Creepy Head collection would be complete.

The Lowdown

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of zombie movies and tend to be forgiving with low-budget schlock, but the blurb from Ain’t It Cool News splashed across the cover of Dead & Breakfast, proclaiming it “The U.S. answer to Shaun of the Dead”, automatically puts the movie at an unfair disadvantage.

Because while that Brit rom-zom-com had perfect equilibrium, the tone of Dead & Breakfast never commits to double-barrel horror or blatant Scary Movie-style parody, instead settling into a clunky splatstick vein desperately trying to emulate early Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi (even going so far as to employ that now-overused view-through-the-fresh-hole-in-the-head shot). The bobbled balance of arterial spray and feeble comedy reminded me more of Return of the Living Dead Part II than other classic no-budget undead flicks, and attempts at black humor or clever references end up thudding or just coming across as puerile — poking fun at the French, finding a chainsaw in a room with an Evil Dead poster on the wall, a dimwit deputy named Enus (sic), someone saying “This is like a bad horror movie”, etc.

There’s also a rockabilly Greek chorus, a strummer providing ditties about the film’s events, which at first seems like one of the few novel ideas the movie has to offer (much like the crafty black-and-white Creepshow-esque comic book transitions). But the musical interludes eventually just become unwelcome intrusions, especially when the zombies break into an impromptu country-rap line dance number (an apparent homage to Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, which unfortunately is fairly indicative of the level of dated and juvenile humor).

This kind of sight really upsets me. Such a waste… of delicious cherry pie… mmmm…

In addition to a rather standard siege setup (a zombie flick staple), none of the characters are particularly likeable, nor do they even seem to like each other (including the bride), and there’s no sense of history between them. The plucky cast does what they can with the single trait assigned to each (Palladino, the best thing about the FX Iraq War series Over There, embraces the braying jackass role he’s saddled with), but the most pleasant surprise for me was the unconventionally attractive Ever Carradine (daughter of ex-nerd Robert), who makes for a convincing kickass chick. On the opposite end of that spectrum is Perkins, who imbues the villain with all the menace of Jim J. Bullock in white facepaint.

Despite that pile of complaints, the film has plenty of energy and manages to provide some entertaining moments and delightfully gruesome carnage, especially in the frenzied third act (the movie gets plenty of mileage out of a decapitated Sisto head, obviously the most expensive prop). What the movie lacks in originality and genuine laughs, it makes up for in chunky viscera.

6.5 out of 10