Dead & Breakfast

2005, Movie, NR, 88 mins


A goofball gore picture with aspirations to cult status, writer-director Matthew Leutwyler's self-conscious homage to down-and-dirty horror pictures like THE EVIL DEAD (1983) revolves around six young people who take a very wrong turn en route to bridezilla Kelly's (Portia de Rossi) Galveston, Texas, wedding. Kelly's cousin, the slightly peculiar Johnny (Oz Perkins, son of PSYCHO star Anthony Perkins) has an RV and gives a lift to friends Sara (Ever Carradine), too-cool-for-words Christian (Jeremy Sisto), bitchy Kate (Bianca Lawson), the maid of honor, and her doltish boyfriend David (Erik Palladino). Vegan goody-two-shoes Melody (Gina Philips) rounds out the group. Johnny gets well and truly lost, forcing them to spend the night in tiny Lovelock, where the only accommodations are at a spooky bed-and-breakfast owned by the enigmatic Mr. Wise (David Carradine). Before morning, Wise's snooty chef, Henri (Diedrich Bader), is dead with a knife in his throat, Wise has succumbed to a heart attack and the sheriff (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) orders the friends to stick around even though he already has a suspect, the nameless drifter (Brent David Fraser) Christian bumped into at a gas station the previous evening. There's no cell service, the landlines are out of commission and Kelly is in Galveston seething, but the worst is yet to come. Johnny accidentally breaks the seal of a mysterious box Mr. Wise kept upstairs, unleashing an evil spirit — the "Kuman Thong thing," as the sheriff dubs it — that turns him into a zombified killer. Johnny quickly builds himself a small army of similarly possessed slayers and lays siege to the B&B to which the shell-shocked survivors have retreated with the drifter, who knows an awful lot about Kuman Thong things and the extreme measures required to stop them. Given the difficulty of striking the right balance between humor and horror (dismal failure is the norm), Leutwyler deserves credit for getting it right even part of the time. But optimistic comparisons to SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004) notwithstanding, this scrappy little gross-out horror comedy is extremely uneven — clever bits alternate with dumb ones and the cast's evident enthusiasm is up against threadbare production values. Leutwyler's cleverest conceit, using a combination of black-and-white illustrations (splashed, naturally, with gouts of red) and singer-songwriter Zach Selwyn's snarky musical stylings to transition between sequences, adds a welcome touch of wit to the bloody sight gags. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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