I know you. You’ve been saying, “I wish there were MORE zombie movies being released.” You feel the current rate of one per week is not enough. You are glad the genre has seen a resurgence in recent years because it means more zombie movies are being made than ever before.
Well, you’re in luck, because “Dead & Breakfast” is here, and it is a zombie movie. It is, in fact, the new post-Romero kind of zombie movie, where characters acknowledge the existence of other zombie movies and actually call the creatures “zombies.” (“This is like a bad horror movie!” exclaims one character, all too truthfully.)
Written and directed on an indie budget by Matthew Leutwyler, “Dead & Breakfast” is not without its gruesome pleasures, and it does something most flesh-eater flicks don’t: It presents an actual SOLUTION to the zombie infestation, rather than the usual plan of destroying them and just hoping whatever produced them in the first place doesn’t make any more.
But first things first. Six friends in an RV headed to Texas for a wedding get lost and must stay overnight in a tiny town called Lovelock, where the only hotel is a bed-and-breakfast called, um, Bed & Breakfast. The place is run by old Mr. Wise (David Carradine), who is hospitable but strange and who seems to dabble in some kind of mysticism, a fact that will prove useful later.
An ancillary character is killed in the night, leading to an investigation by the suspicious small-town sheriff (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his bumbling small-town deputy (Mark Kelly). No one knows who did it or why, and before you know it the townspeople have become possessed. Still conscious and talking (unlike most zombies), they are overtaken by an impulse to kill and eat their fellow man. Johnny (Oz Perkins), the oddball of the out-of-town sextet, becomes leader of the zombies, taking them on a mission to destroy the remaining five, who are holed up back at Bed & Breakfast and making ad-hoc shotguns out of lead pipes.
The heroes, all young and pretty, are played by Jeremy Sisto, Erik Palladino, Bianca Lawson, Gina Philips and Ever Carradine (niece of David), though it is only the latter who gets any real attention paid to her. Her character, Sara, emerges in the last act as a tank-topped Uma Thurman “Kill Bill” type, taking the zombies on single-handedly … for about 30 seconds, before the movie shifts its focus to two other characters, rooting through a cemetery to locate the items necessary to stop the zombie-making curse. Both ideas, the kick-butt girl and the curse-reversing, are excellent; Leutwyler just doesn’t develop either of them far enough to matter.
The film is often hampered by ham-fisted comedy attempts, but it has some breezy, witty moments too. I like that it’s narrated by a country-rock troubadour named Randall Keith Randall (Zach Selwyn), who appears frequently to sing about what’s afoot. The tongue-in-cheek attitude is fun for a movie like this, but it takes more than a singing narrator and an unusual finale to set you apart from the dozens of other zombie flicks being released every week in this country.
C+ (1 hr., 28 min.; )