Dead & Breakfast (2004)
By: Paul Ryan on August 28, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
IDT (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (Non-anamorphic). English DD 5.1. 84 minutes
The Movie
Director: Matthew Leutwyler
Starring: Ever Carradine, Erik Paladino, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jeremy Sisto, Gina Phillips, Oz Perkins, David Carradine, Portia DiRossi, Bianca Lawson
Screenplay: Matthew Leutwyler
Music: Brian Vander Ark
Tagline: It's Like a Bad Horror Movie…. Only Worse!
Country: USA
Try as you might, you just can't manufacture a cult film. Cult movies just happen. That's a truism that writer/director Matthew Leutwyler unfortunately hasn't considered. Dead and Breakfast tries very hard to be another comic splatter classic in the vein of Braindead and Shaun of the Dead (and apparently there are some who think it is, as the hopeful critical quotes on the DVD cover try to tell us) but falls utterly flat, mainly because it comes across as too nakedly desperate to grab the cult movie brass ring.

Whilst traveling in an RV en route to the wedding of a friend (Geelong's finest, Portia Di Rossi in a 30-second cameo), a group of friends stop over in the peculiar rural hamlet of Lovelock. Lovelock is home to a strange assortment of characters (singing gas station attendant, cowboy-hatted macho sherrif, super-zealous town offical, David Carradine, etc…) and – just as you'd expect in a redneck American burg - a mysterious little box which houses a demon known as the Kumon Thong (yes, Thong). Before long the mildest of the friends, Johnny (Oz Perkins) has unwittingly unleashed the fearsome power of the um, Thong, becoming possessed by it and transforming the townsfolk into flesh-ripping zombies.

In-jokes fly fast and furious, especially given the casting of Anthony Perkins' son Oz, (as the possessed leader of the Kumon Thong, erm, throng) who makes a Bates Motel reference and later performs a ventriloquist act with a severed head. An Evil Dead poster makes a welcome appearance, whilst David Carradine (uncle of lead actress Ever Carradine) and Diedrich Bader turn up in forgettable cameos, and Six Feet Under's excellent Jeremy Sisto is completely wasted as one of the travelers. There's enthusiasm to spare, but not a lot of wit. Aside from the amusing inclusion of some CGI-animated scene transitions and a genuinely enjoyable Greek Chorus (in the form of Zach Selwyn's Randall Keith Randall), Leutwyler's direction feels oddly lifeless, especially in the moments that the film should really be cutting loose. What's more, the gore effects sit on the wrong side of cheesy, looking rubbery and fake instead of bracingly gross.

A missed opportunity then, but at least everyone looks like they had fun at the time…
For a film made only two years ago, there are some noticeable flaws in the picture. Instances of dirt and print damage dot the film, while night scenes are littered with ghosting, blurring and murky detail. The commentary indicates some technical problems were encountered with the cameras during filming, so this may explain some of the visual flaws. The picture is in its original ratio of 1.85:1.
A 5.1 Dolby Surround mix is on offer, and it does a bang-up job. Sound effects and music come through with a nice sense of direction and Zach Selwyn's songs are preserved for digital posterity. Commentary is in 2.0.
Extra Features
Audio Commentary: Joining Leutwyler on the commentary track are Ever Carradine (Sara), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Sherrif), Oz Perkins (Johnny) and Erik Palladino (David). An enjoyable listen, and actually more engaging than the film itself as the participants swap stories, trade trivia (David Carradine is wearing his shoes from Kill Bill in one scene. So now you know.), and generally pick on each other.

Six Imagine Entertainment trailers are also included, though to get to them, you are first rewarded with that bloody anti-piracy trailer you've seen a million times before. Along with one for this film, you get trailers for Three, Cruel World, Knots, Blood Angels and Game Six. All of them went straight to DVD over here, and not that there's anything wrong with that, but you will certainly see why….
The Verdict
An eager (not to mention attractive) cast and some amusing touches fail to redeem this weak horror comedy. A shame, as Leutwyler does show some promise. The commentary is more entertaining than the film itself, so this may be worth a rental if you're curious.
Movie Score
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