Coming to DVD Tuesday, October 14th
Jared Kusnitz as Jimmy
Greyson Chadwick as Lindsey
Chandler Darby as Steven
Carissa Capobianco as Gwen
Randy McDowell as Jules
Michael V. Mammoliti as George
Mark Lynch as Rod
Justin Welborn as Kyle Grubbin
Directed by Gregg Bishop
Prom night is a hard time for any high school student: Hiring a tux, trying to find a date – it’s a complicated and frustrating period for anyone. It’s difficult enough to deal with without a zombie invasion, something which the makers of Dance of the Dead have decided to explore.
Dance of the Dead is an extremely fun little horror film, and any flaw that may be found can surely be overlooked due to its sheer enthusiasm and manic energy. For a low budget film, it looks slick, polished and professional, the special effects are outstanding and the acting is great throughout; and to be perfectly honest it’s not clear how a bigger budget would have benefited this picture.
Maybe it’s because this kind of film is suited to being low budget, with many of the most effective films of this ilk being low budget themselves. It is also of note to mention that whereas it doesn’t officially style itself as an ’80s throwback per se, it certainly reminded me of films such as Return of the Living Dead in that it carries the same kind of out-there attitude. Many will compare it to recent films such as Shaun of the Dead and Boy Eats Girl but to do so would be unfair as their connection is merely limited to zombies and comedy (and school, in Boy Eats Girl‘s case), and whereas the comedy in Shaun is more refined and effective, the gross-out humor and sense of fun in Dance is far more apparent.
For a low budget film it’s packed full of original ideas, one particular scene standing out in which fleeing teenagers are chased by zombies while fresh ones fire into the air from the ground in puffs of dust. The gore is also extremely inventive and certain fight scenes make use of a splatstick abandon that is both exhilarating and hilarious. A problem usually related with low budget films is a lack of acting talent on display, this is not the case with Dance, each and every character holds their own up on the screen and many display a sense of comic timing to match many big name comedians. Jared Kusnitz manages to hold the film as the central protagonist even though to begin with he is quite annoying, however as the film progresses he emerges as a firm and amusing comic player, as well as a proficient actor around which to carry the story. The rest of the cast do well, with particular note of Justin Welborn who plays Kyle, the standard bad boy of the piece.
Taken as a teen movie, Dance of the Dead certainly holds all the genre’s clichÃ©s and stereotypes such as the standard jock characters, lovable geeks being center stage, the dumb prom queen character, etc. Take away the zombies and the film is an archetypal teen film from the American Pie stable. The dialogue is similar, as are some of the jokes, but the addition of the zombies allows for a large number of imaginative situations and events to occur and thus masks the clichÃ©d nature of the rest of the film. Dance combines stock characters and predictable ideas with a great script, good direction, good actors and a handful of new ideas to form a totally fresh little horror gem.
Overall, it’s a total surprise – not this year’s Shaun of the Dead, as I’m sure many reviews will state (the two are completely different) – instead, it’s a totally over-the-top, hilarious and just plain fun entry into the zombie genre. This is definitely a must-see for fans of comedy/horror, or fans of the individual respective genres as it is sure to please most moviegoers. Dance of the Dead doesn’t kid itself into being anything other than an entertaining, laugh-out-loud fun-packed ride.