Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review Of DANCE OF THE DEAD By Bethany Ruthven

Good evening, darlings, and welcome to The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween. I do apologize for my tardiness to this year's Halloween soiree, but it's always better to be fashionably late so that one can make a proper entrance, especially during the Ghost Wonderful Time Of The Year. As usual, we are always looking for something better than usual in horror movies during Halloween, and today I bring you an interesting little zombie film called Dance Of The Dead, which caused quite a buzz when it premiered at the South By Southwest Film Conference back in 2008.

As we have stated before in our previous post, we are not so keen on
zombie films despite having some favorites, but we can add this one to that meager number. Dance Of The Dead is a film about a high school attacked by zombies on prom night. While that may not seem like exemplary filmmaking at first glance (if at all), the twist occurs when the only ones able to save the school are a motley crew of various individuals who, for one reason or another, have no dates for the prom, such as Jimmy (Jared Kustniz) who has been unexpectedly dumped by his girlfriend Lindsey (Greyson Chadwick) who herself turns out to have no date as well, as he is transformed into a zombie himself. Teaming with school Sci-Fi Club devotees Stephen (Chandler Darby) and Jules (Randy McDowell), good-natured cheerleader Gewn (Carissa Capobianco), and unpleasant bully Kyle (Justin Welborn), Jimmy and Lindsey race to the school in an attempt to save the promgoers from the zombies, who are returning to unlife due to their cemetery being inconveniently located next to a power plant. (You may insert the foam-mouthed environmental diatribe of your choice here.)

The cast, who are all mostly unknowns, are quite fresh-faced and actually believable as teenagers, unlike most other actors in movies of this ilk, who behave mostly as if they are reality-show leftovers "slumming" in low-budget horror films (ha ha ha). The script, written by Joe Ballarini and directed by Gregg Bishop, has moments of comedy (such as the local rock band's heroic effort to hold off the zombies by providing an impromptu concert in their garage), irony (Kyle, who has terrorized the student body for years, is bitten by a zombie and must be beaten to death by the losers) and pathos (Stephen and Gwen's blossoming romance is finally fulfilled after both of them become zombies, with gory results). It also treats its characters as real people rather than as zombie fodder, which is quite unusual for this sort of movie. Dance Of The Dead has been remarked upon as "a John Hughes movie with zombies" and the appellation is accurate; the viewer winds up rooting for the characters and hoping they survive. It's not a film for those who like their zombie movies hyperviolent or filled with gloomy metaphor; rather, it's a sweet, funny and ultimately good-hearted black comedy that would be perfect for a Halloween film-fest (though I do not recommend it for young children). Four stars all round.

Dance Of The Dead is available on DVD from Amazon (click our title link above to order) or may be obtained through your favorite rental outlet. Do give this one a spin, darlings--horror films that are not remakes or sequels sometimes bring unexpected pleasures. As always, do join us later this month for other seasonal surprises in The
MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween,
and cheers to all our readers!

Bethany Ruthven