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" UMD a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. I thought the DVD would be the best "Dead And Breakfast" would look, but I was proved wrong. The detail level on the tiny PSP screen is superb. Even the night scenes, which had some issues on DVD, look amazing. The only unfortunate effect of the wonderful presentation is it now feels less like a B-movie. While this may be fine for some, I felt the low budget feel was a positive for "Dead And Breakfast". It brought back memories of late night cable TV horror movies, which was a plus in my book. It is hard to talk bad about a great video presentation though.
The DVD had a hard time balancing the sound on the 2.0 mix. With that being the only option on UMD, I was a bit skeptical. While the UMD maintains the low budget sound, I found the ear buds were the best choice for "Dead And Breakfast". They engulf you in the movie, providing a greater viewing and listening experience. The musical numbers do seem a bit faded, but death scenes have an unbelievable level of detail. Amplified speakers are another good choice as they enhance the bass and sound effects during the latter half of the film. The faceplate speakers lack depth and had trouble balancing dialogue during heavy action/music numbers.
While the DVD release had quite a few extra features, none were ported over to the UMD.
"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 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. A lack of extra features does make it tough to recommend this UMD, but the video presentation is excellent. I wouldn't suggest a blind buy, but fans of the film will be pleased with the presentation.