Dead And Breakfast

Dead And Breakfast (2004)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Jeremy Sisto, Erik Palladino
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Blooper Reel

In the comedy horror spirit inspired by the likes of "Evil Dead" and more recently "Shaun Of The Dead", "Dead And Breakfast" has an uphill battle to achieve the notoriety of those two films. The plot is pretty simple. While traveling through the town of Lovelock, six friends decide to stay overnight in a Bed and Breakfast. Of course, murder and mayhem seem to be around every corner as the group tries to survive some small town terror. The familiar plot is peppered with enough zeal to keep indie enthusiasts interested for the duration of the film. The true struggle in the movie is the movie itself. It is a showcase of how a movie fights to develop an identity, never really committing to any genre.

I remember seeing the trailer for "Dead And Breakfast" and being genuinely interested in seeing it. The film has the look and feel of a cheesy 80's horror flick, which is always a plus in my book. Instead of opting for the typical slasher formula, Writer/Director Matthew Leutwyler changes things up a bit by adding the undead and advancing the plot with quirky musical numbers by Zach Selwyn. The music may be what gives this movie its pulse. It seemed that every time things started to slow to a crawl, Selwyn's character Randall Keith Randall would change things up enough to pull viewers back into the movie. This aspect of the movie is similar to "Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical", for those who have seen the musical retelling of the 1936 fact skewed drama. The humorous songs are what most will remember after the credits roll.

While I feel "Shaun Of The Dead" had a perfect blend of horror and comedy, "Dead And Breakfast" is part comedy, part horror, part musical. There is a decent amount of gore, but the scares are minimal. After seeing "Feast", it is a little harder to accept "Dead And Breakfast" for what it offers. "Feast" is a horror movie with a comedy backdrop, while "Dead And Breakfast" isn't quite sure what type of genre it belongs in. The marketing tries to portray the best of both genres, but it is a shade misleading. Rather than being labeled the American equivalent of "Shaun Of The Dead", it should be considered the American equivalent of Takashi Miike's "The Happiness Of The Katakuris". Both combine comedy, music, and horror, bending genre rules to whittle a basic story into a unique piece of art.

Anchor Bay has given the "Dead And Breakfast" DVD a 16:9 enhanced 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. As with a lot of horror movies, the majority of the action takes place at night. These dark scenes do show some grain and minor wear, primarily from low budget filmmaking. Some scenes are a shade darker than they probably should be, but the action is rarely effected by the lack of lighting. The flaws add to the 80's inspired look and feel of the movie, working to the favor of the film rather than bringing it down. From a technical standpoint, the imperfections are noticeable, but fairly minor. All in all the look of the movie is probably as good as it will get.

From an audio standpoint, we have a choice between Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0. As with most DVD's, the differences are obvious on a multitude of levels. The 5.1 mix excels with a rich, full sound that boasts deep bass and great dialogue level. The surrounds are used primarily in the latter half of the movie and the music, which is a highlight of the movie, comes to life on the stronger soundstage. The 2.0 track comes across as flat and overwhelmed after hearing "Dead And Breakfast" with additional channels of sound. While most 80's horror has to be upgraded to a 5.1 mix, this title may have been downgraded to a 2.0 for its DVD release. Stick with the 5.1 mix on this one.

Kicking off the extra features are two commentary tracks. Writer/Director Matthew Leutwyler and Actor Erik Palladino are involved with both tracks. In the first commentary, Special Effects Supervisor Michael Mosher and Actor/Songwriter Zach Selwyn join them. This is a 'guys' commentary as the foursome's chatter revolves around memories shared from the film and how hot the girls are. The second track has Actors Ever Carradine, Jeffery Dean Morgan, and Oz Perkins with Leutwyler and Palladino. The track is similar in tone to the first commentary, if not more laid back. If I remember correctly, it was one of the "American Pie" commentary tracks that gave listeners the 'fly on the wall' feeling. The commentary is more like a group of friends reminiscing with one another, rather than an informative track for a DVD. The commentary does give some insight into "Dead And Breakfast", but it does leave commentary fans feeling like they are eavesdropping on rather than invited in the conversation. Audio voyeurs should be in heaven. Ten minutes of deleted and extended scenes are more plot centered than gore and effects. Leaving them trimmed or out of the film certainly helped give "Dead And Breakfast" a better pace. One of my guilty pleasures on DVD's is a blooper reel. The three-minute reel is similar to bloopers found on other DVD's, some laughs and flaws that were worked out over the course of production. Lastly, the DVD has a still gallery and some trailers for other Anchor Bay releases.

"Dead And Breakfast" is a great midnight movie. It is a film with few rules and is great entertainment. Fans looking for a comedy may be left feeling a bit empty and fans of horror will have a similar reaction. The DVD has good audio and video, as well as some of the more common extra features. The key to enjoying "Dead And Breakfast" is keeping your expectations low, your mind open, and celebrating the enthusiasm and thrills of an independent look at a classic genre.