VideoVista logo
MONTHLY WEB-ZINE OF  
DVD & BLU-RAY REVIEWS
 
action | adventure | art | cartoon | comedy | cult | disaster | docu | drama | fantasy | horror | kung fu | monster | musical | parody | romance | satire | sequel | SF | sport | spy | surreal | 3D | thriller | TV | war | western
VideoVista covers rental and retail titles in all genres and movie or TV categories, with filmmaker interviews, auteur profiles, top 10 lists, plus regular prize draws.

HOME PAGE
INDEX OF ALL REVIEWS
SEARCH THIS SITE
COMPETITIONS
FORTHCOMING REVIEWS
TOP 10 LISTS
INTERVIEWS & PROFILES
RETRO REVIEWS SECTION
ABOUT OUR CONTRIBUTORS
READERS' COMMENTS
SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER
SITE MAP
LINKS


SUPPORT THIS SITE -
SHOP USING THESE LINKS

In Association with Amazon.com


visit other Pigasus Press sites...
The ZONE - genre nonfiction
Soundchecks - music reviews
Rotary Action - helicopter movies

July 2010

Dance of the Dead

cast: Jared Kusnitz, Greyson Chadwick, Chandler Darby, and Carissa Capobianco

director: Gregg Bishop

84 minutes (15) 2008
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Lions Gate DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
review by Mark West

Dance Of The Dead

Focusing on the prom night of the local high school, this is kind of film I imagine Night Of The Living Dead would have been like, had John Hughes remade it in the 1980s. Opening in a cemetery, flanked by ominous looking cooling towers, the groundskeeper makes his way around the graves and appears to be collecting disembodied - moving - body parts.

At the prom, Lindsey (Greyson Chadwick) is busy making plans whilst her erstwhile boyfriend Jimmy (Jared Kusnitz) is getting himself into trouble, along with his friend Steven (Chandler Darby), who fancies cheerleader Gwen (Carissa Capobianco). Steven's friends from the sci-fi club - including Jules (Randy McDowell) and George (Michael V. Mammoliti) - have their own plans for prom night, taking some ghost-busting equipment to the cemetery from the opening scene. As night falls, all hell literally breaks loose and the teens band together to try and stop the zombie plague from taking over the town.

Watched in the right frame of mind (which is going to be depend heavily on whether you like films about teenagers in high school or if you prefer your zombie films to be gore-fests), this isn't a bad little film at all. Never quite descending into all-out horror - there are some nice effects, but most are very quickly done - this keeps things moving at a lively pace and has a few laugh-out-loud moments.

The cast do well, with all of them actually looking like teenagers, which makes a change, and all of the characters act as you'd expect, within their stereotype (nerd, jock, cheerleader, rebel etc), there's even a bullying redneck, who comes good in the end.

Ably directed, there are a few stand-out set pieces, especially the mortuary sequence where the gang gets attacked by various cadavers (including a couple in bags) and there's a sequence in the cemetery once the dead start to rise, showing the corpses literally bursting out of the graves, which is both frightening and original. The climax, at the prom itself, features less zombies than we've seen before - which is a bit of an anti-climax - but there's a wonderful moment when Jimmy and Lindsey re-connect and have a little dance.

Also, as a nice touch, it appears that zombies are calmed to the point of inertia by rock music, which is always useful to know! As for the zombies, they are very much of the new school - very, very fast at times (one, in the funeral home, even has her own jump-cuts, which is quite startling when you see it the first time) - and owe quite a debt to Dan O'Bannon's ghouls, even saying "brains!" at one point. Two also steal a car at one point, which is a new one on me.

The special effects' make-up is generally good and there didn't appear to be any repetition of make-up (unlike the later Romero films), which was nice - the CGI visual effects are also well handled and apart from an obvious matte of the power station, don't hog the screen too much.

Obviously a labour of love from the writer and director (witness the scores of people individually credited as zombies/ extras and the 'special thanks' which must run close to 100 names) and made on a low budget, this is smart and ambitious, knowing its limits but willing to push them and it quite nicely sets up for a sequel too.

If you like your zombie horror gory and dark, Dance Of The Dead isn't the film for you. If you like a zombie romp (think of this as a kind of younger sibling to Zombieland), then you'll be in for a treat.

The only extra on my screener copy was a set of deleted or extended scenes.



Premonitions in paperback - click to order

VideoVista copyright © 2001 - is published by PIGASUS Press