Oct 4, 2022
I love undead/zombie movies. Everything about them—the blood, the gore, the creatures … the fear they bring. I always have, ever since I laid my eyeballs on 28 Days Later in 2004 and nearly had a heart attack in terror. I loved it!
After visiting George Romero’s collection, followed by 2004’s Dawn of the Dead and Shaun of the Dead, I was obsessed. And just when I didn’t think my obsession could go any deeper, I stumbled across a nugget of zombie horror/comedy cheese that cemented my devotion to the art, despite the fact it’s also a musical.
What? A musical? A horror musical?
Hear me out.
After stumbling across the DVD—it was 2004—and reading the tagline, “It’s like a bad horror film … only worse!”, I couldn’t resist buying and watching it, even though I’m not much a fan by way of musicals; they’re just not my thing. This musical, though, I’d watch every day of the week and twice on Sundays. It’s that funny.
Dead & Breakfast is a 2004 zombie spoof about six friends on a road trip gone very, very wrong. Add in a creepy Texas town, a sinister bed & breakfast (with murder on the menu), and a charming little band between scenes singin’ some good ole’ country folk music to recap what just happened and set up what’s to come, and, well, you’ve got the toe-tapping entertaining makings for one hell of a bloody, funny movie.
Oh yeah, there’s also that pesky army of the undead, who can only be stopped, it seems, by Texas chainsaw (“regular” chainsaws won’t work) or decapitation. The best things about it, in my opinion, are its exploitative use of copious amounts of blood and gore, its very well-placed humor, and (sigh) the fact that it’s a damn musical—the best damn musical I’ve ever seen!
It’s so intentionally bad, it’s that good.
I promise. Rue Morgue Magazine even hailed it as the best independent movie of the year, way back when.
So, here’s what’s up: After a night that leaves both the inn’s owner, played by the late David Carradine, and its chef (Diedrich Bader) slashed to pieces, the group of friends finds themselves the main suspects by the local sheriff, who is played by bat-wielding Walking Dead villain, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
And that’s just the beginning.
Nearly all of the town’s quirky residents become possessed by an evil spirit unveiled from a modern-day Pandora’s Box. The undead soon surround the friends inside the inn, and the group realizes it’s up to them to save any innocents left in town and bring Lovelock to justice.
Rather than attempting simple survival in a world of the undead, those not yet possessed set to their own methods of eradication, Texas style. The result is a hilarious gut-bursting, attention-demanding blood battle between the living and the undead, full of tear-jerkingly funny scenes cut with outstanding musical transitions.
Even though at the time critics initially labeled it as the American response to the British Shaun of the Dead (you’ll see this in the trailer), the actual truth is that Dead & Breakfast was made a year prior to and released six months before SOTD.
It was also made on a teeny tiny budget, which is extremely impressive and worthy of respect simply for its creatively superfluous use of blood, gore, and makeup, which is nothing short of drenching and delightful.
Written and directed by Matthew Leutwyler (The River Why), these undead deliver an excruciatingly funny Americanized demeanor that’s less zombie-like and more like a possessed cult of maniacal savages thirsting for souls instead of blood. It is utterly ridiculous.
It's also a MUST SEE for horror/effects/undead-zombie fans who are equipped with a sense of humor and strong stomach. eFilmCritic called it “the best gorefest since Cabin Fever.” Boom.
In addition to the names listed above, Dead & Breakfast also stars Jeremy Sisto, Erik Palladino, Ever Carradine, Oz Perkins, Bianca Lawson, and Portia de Rossi.
Watch the trailer HERE.