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Overall Rating
4.25

Awesome75%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 25%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 6 user ratings


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Dance of the Dead
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by brianorndorf

"A review without the benefit of confetti guns"
2 stars

The strained “Dance of the Dead” makes it easier to appreciate what “Shaun of the Dead” effortlessly achieved years back. A clunky, low-budget zombie send-up, “Dance” has heart and a few surprises, but it swallows patience by the pound, reheating screenplay leftovers and trying to disguise the results under the forgiving blanket of the horror genre.

As Cosa High prepares for its prom, the students are getting ready for the party of their lives. Unfortunately, pollution from a nearby nuclear power plant has reanimated the dead, bringing about a zombie apocalypse. For a small band of teens, including detached Jimmy (Jared Kusnitz), sci-fi nerd Steven (Chandler Darby), cheerleader Gwen (Carissa Capobianco), bully Kyle (Justin Welborn, “The Signal”), and booster Lindsey (Greyson Chadwick), the night becomes a combat zone as the dead try to eat the living. Fending off the zombie army, the kids sort out their social differences, learn to appreciate their teachers, and try to blow up the prom before the deadly plague spreads out of their town.

“Dance of the Dead” is tone-deaf, attempting to be everything to everyone, but leaving itself shortchanged at nearly every turn. Director Gregg Bishop and writer Joe Ballarini clearly have affection for the dog-eared zombie genre, and “Dance” has numerous moments of striking invention, including my favorite: zombies who literally launch from their graves and hit the ground running. Heavens, I could watch that all day.

What “Dance” doesn’t have is a nice, steady focus. It’s horror, teen melodrama, winky comedy, and sci-fi all rolled up into one movie, covering material other genre riffs have already claimed. While watching the feature, the queasy feeling that Bishop is haphazardly piecing the film together as he goes becomes a little too real, leaving the critical sense of fun the movie craves dangling in the wind. The ambition is there (along with plenty of gruesome effects), but the filmmakers take on too much with very little money, having a ball dreaming up ideas, but little in the way of resources to pull them off with flair.

I know, I know, “Dance” is one of the million or so DTV “little films that could” that deserve a kinder appreciation simply because of their independent origin. That mindset only gets the picture halfway, with goofy ideas such as zombies who are hypnotized by rock music (they prefer Pat Benatar) and a bathroom make-out session between a few of the newly-minted undead being the few shards of cleverness to make it out alive. The rest of “Dance” buries itself in formula, including: a hard-ass gym teacher who turns out to be a militaristic saving grace, characters who hide their death-sentence bites, and a backyard weapon-building montage. “Dance” isn’t sharp enough to reignite such displays of tiresome familiarity, and while the cast is game, their performance limitations are felt.

Prom-fueled teen angst during a zombie war? That’s gold. So why isn’t “Dance” more engaging, innovative, or funnier? It’s all done in the name of tribute, and the shadowing grows wearisome long before this stunningly short picture (78 minutes) is over. “Dance of the Dead” is harmless candy for horror fans, but it remains disappointingly stale candy.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=17154&reviewer=404
originally posted: 10/18/08 03:18:17
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Fantasia Film Festiva For more in the 2008 Fantasia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/03/10 SS <3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/07/08 Blake This movie is great! Gwen could eat my tongue anyday! Sexy!!! 5 stars
11/03/08 Dan F Engaging, innovative and very funny!! More fun than Shaun! 87 minutes, not 78. 5 stars
10/11/08 Matt C Saw this on ninjavideo and it was AWESOME!! Funny, scary, exciting, funny. So, so good! 5 stars
5/11/08 Tina Loved it! art, see the movie before you rate it! 5 stars
4/05/08 tareq want to see 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
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  DVD: 14-Oct-2008

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Directed by
  Gregg Bishop

Written by
  Joe Ballarini

Cast
  Jared Kusnitz
  Greyson Chadwick
  Justin Welborn
  Chandler Darby



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