Dance of the Dead (2008) [REVIEW]

 

I heard quite a few negative reviews about this film, and then I remember hearing one positive review, so I gave it a shot. I hope that one person who gave it a positive review is currently in Hell getting raped by Satan. I held off for quite some time when it came to adding this film to my queue, getting it confused with the Masters of Horror episode of the same name. In retrospect, I wish that I had either watched that episode multiple times, or that I had stabbed myself in the eyes, ears, and dick (for good measure) rather than watch this steaming pile of shit.

 

Oh, I get it, the bloody axe and bat are juxtaposed by the nice clothing. That is so original! Good job everyone!

Remember being in high school? Man, that shit was tough. Girls not liking you, teachers making fun of you, your band not being able to play the school dance, and nobody coming to the Sci Fi club meetings. Imagine if you also had zombies showing up! Oh no! That would suck! I gotta be honest…I feel like I blacked out from stupidity while watching this film. I know that there were zombies, and high schoolers, and a gym teacher, and at one point a band plays music that distracts the zombies. Some characters lived, some died, some didn’t die that you wish had, and then the credits roll. MAGNIFICENT!

 

Two characters had a crush on each other, but didn’t embrace that crush until they both became zombies and made out in a bathroom stall. It’s like this movie was made for Twilight fans that wanted to feel edgy.

Awful. Just awful. Imagine Degrassi, but with zombies. I’m sure some of you secretly like Degrassi, which makes you an idiot, but still, it was even dumber than that show. Have you guys seen the movie Brick? A great noir film set in high school, without a bunch of whiney stupid bitches. Or even the TV show Veronica Mars, once again set in high school, but didn’t succumb to typical melodramatic bullshit. Also, Veronica Mars stars Kristen Bell, which puts it high above anything else ever, but that’s besides the point. The characters in Dance of the Dead were all stereotypical characters, nothing exciting happened at any point, and it makes you hate your life and destroys your soul. Don’t watch it. Ever.

 

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17 responses to “Dance of the Dead (2008) [REVIEW]

  1. Actually it’s the other way around. This movie mostly got positive reviews from all the major critics (Aint It Cool, Bloody-Disgusting, Variety, FearNet, etc). It’s actually rare to find a negative review for this film.

    Sam Raimi (Spiderman, Evil Dead) seemed to like it. He bought the movie for millions of dollars to distribute the film under his Ghost House Pictures studio. And most would say Raimi has good taste. :)

    I thought the movie was quite brilliant myself. I do remember my friends and I cheering at the screen when the zombies exploded from the ground. Which you have to admit was pretty damn awesome. lol

  2. Jane – thanks for the input! I agree, most MAJOR critics seem to enjoy the film, however, I typically don’t take the advice of major critics. You’re right, most of them look at this movie positively, but most people I know or have talked to firsthand haven’t seemed to enjoy it, so I apologize for that confusion.

    And yes, I did know that Sam Raimi was involved in the distribution of this film, and I love me some Sam Raimi. However, if you check some of the films he has produced…they are terrible. Or even having more direct involvement…he was responsible for Spider-Man 3. So yes, it’s possible for someone with great taste to make decisions I don’t agree with.

    I just feel this movie wasn’t for me. Mixing horror and comedy is always tricky, because you’re going to get too much of one, not enough of the other. So considering this ended up as more of a comedy, I just thought it was a little too corny for my taste.

  3. OMG! I LOVE Dance of the Dead! Why the hate?

    “I don’t know how to shoot a machete!” hahahahah

    Prom + zombies = pure bliss. I wish my prom was like this.

    • To be honest, I don’t think this movie was aimed at me. I don’t think the mid-20’s nerd was exactly the demographic they were going for. I mean, sure, I could watch Twilight and say it sucks, but I don’t think anyone would care.

      Also, I would much rather have had my prom be like the Enchantment Under the Sea dance from Back to the Future. Marty McFly jumping around with his electric guitar sounds awesome!

  4. I wish my prom wasn’t spent in my basement passing gas in front of my dog while eating potato chips and drinking a 2 liter bottle of Pepsi. While watching Austin Powers.

    I wish finger banged someone instead!

  5. lol. That’s understandable. Here’s the Bloody-Disgusting review for comparison of opinions about making the horror comedy work. PS- I love Back to the Future as well.

    By: Tex Massacre

    http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/review/2035

    Fast Zombies? Slow Zombies? How about zombies that burst out of their graves in a cloud of torn earth and hit the ground running in a frenzy of fury? That’s how it happens here and it’s also how I would describe Director Gregg Bishop’s horror hybrid DANCE OF THE DEAD. It explodes like a shotgun blast of pure teen comedy and devastates everything in its path with a battery of torn off limbs, bashed in brains, severed spinal cords and a night at the prom that makes CARRIE look like PRETTY IN PINK.

    Cosa High School is pretty much like every other High School in America. The teens that attend Cosa are all preoccupied with the usuals—getting laid and getting ready for the big dance…The Prom. Jimmy (Jared Kusnitz, OTIS) and Lindsey (Greyson Chadwick) aren’t your typical high school couple. He’s jaded and chill about the whole affair; she’s indulging in the entire archetypal hullabaloo surrounding the annual rituals of teendom. The rest of the school is occupied by an assorted cast of stereotypes, ripped right out of the John Hughes universe—The Science Club, The Cheerleaders, The Prom Queen, The Rock Star and the Charlie Sheen delinquent that looks like he should have graduated about a decade earlier. Together these polar opposites must unite to save their special night from an all out undead assault of the most outrageous, most sanguine and most irrepressibly hilarious horror comedy since SHAUN OF THE DEAD.

    I’ve said it before, it’s difficult if not damn near impossible to really pull off homage. You have to forgo the obvious and create a living breathing entity that can stand wholly on its own. If you don’t do that, you’ve cut off half of your audience before they ever see the first five minutes of your magnum opus. What writer Joe Ballarini and Director Gregg Bishop (THE OTHER SIDE) accomplish is the very nearly impossible—a fully functional film that delivers the laugh-a-minute but heartfelt humor of AMERICAN PIE with the furious gore of 28 DAYS LATER. The film never gives up it’s horror to service its comedy and in the same respect it waters down the laughs in order to up the tension. I struggle to remember the last time I was instantly blown away by a film—especially a horror comedy.

    The script is tight as a noose. All of the characters are enjoyable and well acted, lead by Jared Kusnitz who delivers a hilariously matter of fact character—totally annoyed at the situation but forced to take a stand and save his friends—there’s no great dramatic arc for Kusnitz to play, but his teenage-Rambo one-liners and genuinely organic screen presence make it impossible not to like the dude. Greyson Chadwick lends a heightened level of sing-song-reality to her performance—her Lindsey never utters filmdom’s favorite four letter word. Instead she simple wonders what the “F” is going on! It’s endearing and once again, it differentiates her character from the rest of the pack. Joe Ballarini’s script carefully fleshes out each of these kids not by providing excesses of discourse or long-winded pages of backstory. The film flies too fast for any of that. No, instead these kids are defined and differentiated by what they accomplish in the film and with each other. If any actor steals the show it’s Justin Welborn (THE SIGNAL) who plays the student delinquent Kyle. As I mentioned before Welborn look a decade—at minimum—too old to be playing a high school student but that matters little because as insane as he is, his performance is so well executed that it virtually explodes off the screen—you buy every second.

    Speaking of buying every second, that incredibly difficult tenet is where most horror films and most comedies fail. When you blend the pair together you can throw all logic right out the window—unless you can make that world exist in celluloid as an absolute reality. Gregg Bishop, his cast and his crew deliver that promise as swiftly and with as much deadly precision as a machete to the neck—severing DANCE OF THE DEAD from the legions of “zomedy’s” that have shuffled DOA on to DVD and into theaters over the past several years.

    Slow Zombies vs. Fast Zombies? Straight Horror? Satirical Horror? When it’s this much fun who gives a fuck! DANCE OF THE DEAD is the best horror comedy of this or any other year. Now bring it on…

    Score: 10 / 10

  6. Thanks for the link. I contributed my own review to the User Review section, but if you liked the film, you probably won’t like what I said on BD. I summed it up in a few sentences though, so at least it’s short!

  7. Here’s the Ain’t It Cool News review. I wish I was at that screening! “effortlessly fun” and “cult classic” says it all!

    http://aintitcool.com/node/35930

    Quint loves up on midnight zombie flick DANCE OF THE DEAD at SXSW!!!

    Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Yay, a really good midnight movie has played at SXSW! I’ve actually heard some good things about a few of the midnights playing, like SHUTTLE, but DANCE OF THE DEAD is the first one I saw that I thoroughly enjoyed.

    DANCE OF THE DEAD is not an original film. Not at all. In fact there are shots lifted from (or homaging if you like that term better) NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, FROM DUSK ‘TILL DAWN and a ton of other genre highlights.

    The story is simple: Zombies take over a town on prom night. The kids react. Guts fly everywhere.

    What this movie does extremely well, though, is strike that really difficult balance of horror, action and comedy. This film is definitely in the style of RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and that’s why I loved it. There’s an inventiveness to it that’s appealing as well… it’s not just thrown together, it’s actually crafted. Care and thought towards the actual filmmaking went into the movie, which is more than I can say for 80% of the low budget horror I see at fests or on screeners.

    It’s goofy, the splatter is ridiculous, the characters are all shades of cartoony, but there’s still a sense of seriousness. It’s hard to explain… I don’t know if any of you saw a movie called DEAD & BREAKFAST… I didn’t care much for that movie, but I recognize the fun elements of it. That’s a film that was trying really, really hard to be fun and it showed. DANCE OF THE DEAD is just effortlessly fun.

    Let me go over the opening scene and some of the characters to give you folks an inkling of what this film is.

    The flick opens with a gravedigger at a cemetery. He’s digging a fresh one when he hears a moaning. He pops out of the grave and looks around. A nice vase full of flowers resting at the foot of a tombstone falls over. The gravedigger gets down on his knees, leaning a little too close to the fresh grass of the grave as he resets the flowers.

    They fall over again and he hears the moaning again, but it’s coming from beneath him. He puts his ear to the ground, hears it again… after a beat he raises up a little just in time for a hand to reach out and grab him. He grabs for his pair of garden shears and lobs the hand off. The arm jerks back into the ground and the hand stands up, like Thing in Addams Family, and runs at him.

    He grabs it and walks it over to his wheelbarrow and tosses it in. It lands on top of a dozen limbs moving around… Arms, legs, a head. We pan up and see a series of Nuclear power plants spilling pollution into the air and then we dive into our story.

    This film comes from the ever growing Atlanta film community, which brought us the awesome SIGNAL. In fact, one of the stars of THE SIGNAL, Justin Welborn (far right in the pic below), shows up in the movie as the “much too old to still be at school delinquent badass” character. All the rest of the kids are between 18 and 20, as close to High School age as they could get away with, with the exception of Wilborn. But it fits his character.

    And as much fun as he looks to have had in THE SIGNAL, it looks like he had even more fun here, really going whole hog.

    The kids are all smartly written… not exactly retreads, but not exactly spoofing teen movies either. They exist in a kind of middle-ground of familiarity. The adults all written to be fucking crazy. The gravedigger is a loon, the principal is a douche, the science teacher is crazy and the hardass gym teacher turns out to be a badass survivalist type that relishes the opportunity to use his automatic weapons, army hand-to-hand fighting techniques and C4 explosives.

    The kids are all fun, with Welborn being a big audience favorite. The lead, young Jared Kusnitz, also had a major role in OTIS which I didn’t like nearly as much. He was good in OTIS but had very little to do. In this one he’s naturally likable and makes for a good unlikely hero.

    There is spine-ripping, zombie make-outs (in what I’ll assume is a nod to Peter Jackson’s BRAINDEAD), zombie frogs, undead flying out of their graves in a puff of dirt and the power of rock being used to quell the zombie hordes.

    This is an indie flick and the budget does show through a little at times, but I was really impressed with it. It’s pretty epic for a small movie and the directing by Gregg Bishop (THE OTHER SIDE) is inventive and smart.

    It is currently looking for a distributor, but I don’t think they’ll have much trouble finding one. I just hope whoever picks it up treats the movie right. With a well-planned supportive release, this one has cult classic written all over it.

    I’ll keep my ear to the ground on this one. It’s a must see for fans of horror, especially outlandish low budget craziness.

    -Quint

    • Jane B – I appreciate your effort in defending a film that you clearly like so much. However, I have read these reviews, and I still feel the same way about it. I just don’t want you to take it personally the amount of disdain I have for this film. Unless, of course, you were involved in the making of it, in which case I would understand why you want to defend it.

    • Take THAT Kathy! I can’t help but wonder why so many females have commented in the defense of this film. Does it stem from some sort of estrogen driven Bieber Fever that I just didn’t understand about the film? I hope that using the term “Bieber Fever” brings me more traffic.

  8. LOL. I’m only pointing out that your taste in this particular film is in the minority. No hard feelings. :)

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