Welcome to the “Z B & B” – aka the Zombie Bed & Breakfast – where guests pay for the unique experience of pretending to be honeymooning couples at a remote Bed & Breakfast that is besieged by zombies.
But despite the Honeymoon Husband’s concern that the cast will try too hard to scare them, initially it’s kind of difficult to imagine the employees of “Z B & B” being motivated enough to scare anyone.
Indeed, the cast members are much more inclined to sit around smoking, snacking, and discussing the merits and flaws of zombie films than they are to put any real effort into terrifying the paying customers.
Known to the reader and each other by their particular zombie ensemble – Baseball Zombie, Cowboy Zombie, Cigarette Zombie, Lumberjack Zombie, etc. – the employees of “Z B & B” spend the majority of the first three quarters of the book having discussions that read more like a cross between Slacker and Clerks than it does a zombie story, which is actually the brilliance of Zee Bee & Bee.
By having the ‘victims’ in on the joke and the ‘zombies’ less than dedicated to their designated task of pursuing the flesh and brains of the guests, author David James Keaton has actually come up with a pretty fresh take on the old zombie yarn. Relying heavily on comedy and irony instead of tension and terror, Keaton has his zombies engage in some literally laugh out loud conversations as they not only discuss zombies in pop culture, but also brainstorm various schemes to improve the ‘zombie experience’ offered at “Z B & B.” The owner’s attempt to explain “The Executioner and the Four Hats” scenario to his cast by acting it out with saltshakers and Halfway Homeys (a takeoff on Homies), for example, made me laugh harder than anything I’ve read in recent memory, and for that scene alone Zee Bee & Bee needs to be made into a movie.
Just when the reader and guests have gotten comfortable with the apparent lack of threat posed by the staff, however, things begin to take on a more sinister tone. As night falls the staff gets more and more frustrated with each other, their playful verbal antagonism degenerating into very real physical confrontations. Meanwhile, things inside the house are also less than rosy, as the guests have found a working television and stumble across a very disturbing newscast which causes them to kick their defense of the property into a deadly high gear. As things quickly and violently spiral downward it becomes clear that nothing is as it initially appeared, and that David James Keaton has pulled off one hell of a “Gotcha!”
Zee Bee & Bee is available at Amazon.