DEAD & BREAKFAST
Directed by Matthew Leutwyler
Produced by Jun Tan and EJ Eiser
Written by Matthew Leutwyler
Director of Photograpy David Scardina
Music by Brian Vander Ark
Cast: Jeremy Sisto, Erik Palladino, Ever Carradine, Brent David Fraser & Gina Philips
2004/88 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD
When discussing film theory, many have found similarities between horror films and comedies, as they both elicit such immediate and strong responses from the audience. And while these two genres have a similar physical effect on the audience, creating that response usually takes completely different approaches. Thus, a filmmaker would have to be crazy to try and combine the two. Yet, there have been several successful horror-comedies over the years, some of which were known for their black humor and over-the-top use of gore. The independent film DEAD & BREAKFAST attempts to join this short list of winning horror-comedy hybrids, but it fails miserably.
DEAD & BREAKFAST tells the story of a group of friends -- Sara (Ever Carradine), Dave (Erik Palladino), Kate (Bianca Lawson), Johnny (Oz Perkins), Melody (Gina Philips), and Christian (Jeremey Sisto) -- who are traveling to a wedding. After falling behind schedule, they decide to stop for the night in the small town of Love Lock and are directed to the local bed & breakfast, which is run by Mr. Wise (David Carradine). Following an odd confrontation with Mr. Wise's chef, Henri (Diedrich Bader), the kids settle in for the night.
However, their slumber is disturbed when both Mr. Wise and Henri are found dead. Because of this, the Sheriff (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) orders the group to stay in town. As if two deaths weren't bad enough, one of Mr. Wise's artifacts is disturbed, releasing an evil force into the town. This force turns many of the locals and some of our main characters into zombies, and soon the survivors, along with a mysterious drifter (Brent David Fraser), find themselves trapped in the B&B fighting for their lives.
On paper, DEAD & BREAKFAST sounds close to EVIL DEAD in spirit, as a group of city kids come to a rural community, unleash an ancient evil, and mayhem ensues. If the film had stuck to this formula, it would have probably been a derivative, but watcahble film. However, writer/director Matthew Leutwyler has decided to add a dash of humor to the film, making DEAD & BREAKFAST more of a splat-comedy, similar to Peter Jackson's DEAD/ALIVE (AKA BRAINDEAD). The problem with DEAD & BREAKFAST is that it doesn't succeed as either a horror film or a comedy.
From the outset, Leutwyler is liberal with the jokes, and it doesn't seem that unusual at first, as many horror films will open with a light mood so that the horrific aspects of the story seem even more gruesome. But, as the zombies begin to attack, DEAD & BREAKFAST throws in more and more jokes...and none of them are funny. The first really big, splat-stick joke comes in Chapter 4 when a character spends several seconds slipping around in the blood of a murder victim. From this unfunny cartoonish moment, the film heads downhill and the subsequent attempts at humor fail to bring forth any laughter. (Seriously, I sat stone-faced throughout this film wondering when it would end.) Leutwyler tries both broad physical jokes and one-liners, but nothing funny happens. The film reaches its nadir during the big musical number, which is supposedly meant to be quirky, but feels like a desperate cry for help. The film also features musical interludes from Zach Selwyn, who serves as a balladeer of sorts. These moments are annoying and only make this 88-minute film seem longer.
As for the horror elements of DEAD & BREAKFAST, they are rather hit or miss. The film does contain some good gore effects, once again, similar to DEAD/ALIVE, especially one moment in which the top of a zombie's head is blown off. As for the "zombies" themselves, these are actually people who are possessed, therefore their makeup consists solely of darkened, sunken eyes. The survivors make some clever choices in their weapons to fend off their attackers, and there is one suspenseful scene Sara is left alone in the house. If DEAD & BREAKFAST had stuck mainly to the horror elements of its story, it wouldn't have been anything special, but at least it wouldn't have been cringe-inducing. The film features a fantastic cast of familiar faces, but the DOA comedy aspects drag the film down, keeping me from recommending it.
DEAD & BREAKFAST checks in on DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks fairly good, as the image is sharp. The picture is somewhat blurred at times though, and there is a mild amount of grain on the image. The image is well-balanced for the most part, but it is slightly dark at times and there are trace elements of artifacting. The DVD features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The music in the film sounds particularly good on this track. The surround sound is spotty at times, but sounds nice during the zombie attack scenes. This is also when the subwoofer kicks in.
The DVD contains several extra features. We start with two audio commentaries. The first features writer/director Matthew Leutwyler, special effects supervisor Michael Mosher, and actors Erik Palladino and Zach Selwyn. The second offers Leutwyler, and actors Ever Carradine, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Erik Palladino, and Oz Perkins. Both commentaries are very similar, as the groups share many memories from the making of the film, while Leutwyler describes the technical aspects of the scenes. On both chats, the groups do a lot of laughing and share in-jokes, so we the viewer feel left out at times. The DVD contains 6 "Deleted & Extended Scenes", plus an alternate version of the end credits. All totaled, these run nearly 10 minutes and don't offer anything new. There are also 2 additional songs from Zach Selwyn. The extras are rounded out by a "Blooper Reel" (3 minutes), a "Poster & Still Gallery", and a "Trailer", which is letterboxed and is 16 x 9. The one highlight to this DVD is the very cool 3-D lenticular motion slip-cover which comes with the DVD. This features a very creative use of the word "Dead" in DEAD & BREAKFAST, which looks as if it's been written in blood over the word "bed". Good stuff.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©
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