Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Movie Review: Dead and Breakfast, 2004, by G. Adams

When you choose to watch a straight-to-video, indie horror film starring David Carradine’s granddaughter and named called ‘Dead and Breakfast’ with the tag line ‘It’s like a bad horror movie… only worse’ that promises cameos by Carradine and, for some reason, Portia de Rossi, you have certain expectations. At least I did.

And I’m happy to say, Dead and Breakfast fulfilled nearly all of them. Cast of young actors who aren’t very good but are trying hard? Check. Swirling black-and-white comic book illustrations between major scenes? Check. Zombies? Check. Alt-country/rock Greek chorus/ narrator who is also a character in the film who becomes a zombie and leads the undead minions in a ‘Thriller’-inspired two-step hip-hop interlude? Check. And of course, plot, jokes, settings, characters, and chainsaw-fu all borrowed from Rami, Tarrentino, Scorcese, Landis, Rodriguez and more? Double-check.

Look, I won’t lie to you” Dead and Breakfast isn’t very good. It falls far short of the maniacal low-budget wonder of say, the original Evil Dead. The over-the-top horror/comedy/gorefest model has been recycled so many times that there’s precious little originality left and this film falls short of even making the best use of the new ideas it does bring to the table. But you’ll laugh. You’ll be entertained. Not everyone who faces horror in this film is an idiot, which puts it far above many mainstream horror/survival films. And the filmmakers used ten million gallons of fake blood (well, 34 gallons, but still).

Dead and Breakfast is best enjoyed if you are literate in horror but don’t take it too seriously. And you might want to be drunk or maybe even a little stoned. Dead and Breakfast wants to be scary and intense but succeeds best at being fun. It’s a failure, but a gentle, and a sincere one. And honestly, to build a film around a redneck alt-country Greek chorus/troubadour takes the kind of courage that we just don’t see in major studio releases these days.

Me vs. the Onion: Nathin Rabin, whom I look upon as a genius for his ‘Films that Time Forgot’ efforts, can’t seem to find the joke in ‘Dead and Breakfast.’ Or he does but doesn’t think it’s funny. All I can say is, if he’s wading through each year’s indie horror releases hoping for the next Sean of the Dead and dismissing all that fail to meet that very high mark, he’s got a long, lonely wait ahead of him.

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