Thursday, 4 April 2013

A to Z - Dead and Breakfast

April 1st marked the start of the A to Z blogging challenge, and I've chosen a movie theme for my posts (although I'll be skipping Fridays to make room for my Friday Flash stories). So far, I've done American Psycho, Back to the Future and Cars, and while D should theoretically have been Die Hard, I thought I'd use today to shine a light on a little gem of a horror film - Dead and Breakfast.

I came across Dead and Breakfast some years ago when my flatmate found it on sale in Music Zone. It's a comedy horror, telling the story of a group of friends who wind up in a small town on the way to a wedding. A murder is committed during the night, turning the bed and breakfast into a crime scene, and the friends into witnesses, so they're kept in the town. One of them manages to unleash a zombie curse, and one by one, the town falls victim to said curse. Unlike most zombie films in which a bite is enough to pass on the infection, in this case, part of you (be it hair, skin, blood etc.) needs to end up in a small box held by the Head Zombie.

Obviously the film has all the ingredients - town archive keeper who knows the mysterious secret behind the events, the strange owner of the bed and breakfast (played by David Carradine), the search for weapons, the attempt to lay the curse to rest, and the climactic showdown as the bed and breakfast is surrounded. Thing is, the film's strength lies in what it does with them. It adds a comedy twist to everything, providing some sick giggles as well as genuine laughs, and at no point does it take itself too seriously. It clearly loves the zombie genre in the way that it gently twists the narrative pattern, so it becomes an homage as opposed to a parody. My favourite element is the introduction of the narrator, a singing balladeer who commentates on the events of the film through song. The clip at the bottom of the post is one of his finer moments.

I often find that people who like zombie films tend to squabble over what makes them zombies - after all, the 'zombies' in 28 Days Later are simply infected, as opposed to undead, and newer zombies can apparently run, an ability denied to them in earlier films. My own favourite zombie films are the original three - White Zombie (1932) , I Walked With A Zombie (1943) and The Plague of the Zombies (1966), in which voodoo plays a role and a central priest figure becomes the antagonist against which the forces of good must rally, and Dead and Breakfast veers closer to these narratives than later films.

Comedy and horror spring from very similar origins, and commentators have long commented on the close relationship between the desire to laugh and the desire to scream. When mixed together well, the resultant hybrid can excel beyond either genre on its own - after all, moments of tension are punctured either by a joke or a scare, and in Dead and Breakfast's case, the combination is spot on. It's just a shame it never caught on the way that it should have. Still, with the rise of Netflix...


6 comments:

Chris Hewson said...

I first saw this years ago, on tv, but it was on pretty late, so I ended up falling asleep and missing the last half-hour!

As for the music, it was all cool, especially the main theme! That 'dead man's party' song!

David Cranmer said...

Sounds like a fun plot and then you mention Carradine. I'm there.

Tony Noland said...

Another new one for me!

Beverly Fox said...

I've also never heard of this before, I'll have to see if I can find it.

Katherine Hajer said...

Rapping cowboy zombies! I must find this. I have already e-mailed a friend of mine who sometimes has zombie film nights and has made two zombie short films himself.

Thanks for reviewing it!

Chuck Allen said...

This is a new one to me as well. Sounds interesting!

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