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Friday, November 10, 2017

Dance of the Dead (2008)



More zombie fun here at the horror dude blog. Here I check out an independent movie from the late 2000s called Dance of the Dead. It came out in the middle of the glut of zombie movies that have flooded the market for the last fifteen years and sort of got lost in the shuffle. While many of those other movies are terrible I’ve always had a soft spot for Dance of the Dead.

Our main characters are Jimmy and Lindsey. Jimmy is a goofball that doesn’t seem to care about anything except making smart ass remarks, while Lindsey is the vice-president of the student council and is planning the Prom. They have a fight after Jimmy makes yet another crack and she dumps him to go with someone else. But she and her new date end up in the cemetery and he gets fresh with Lindsey. Zombies intervene and the poor guys loses his head.

Also at the cemetery are a group of nerds who are ghost hunting. They run into the zombies and end up with Lindsey and they all escape together. One of the nerds is named Steven and he has a crush on a cheerleader named Gwen. Well Gwen is out for a jog because her Prom date ate some bad Spinach. She ends up running into Jimmy who was out delivering pizzas before the Prom. Before that Jimmy had met up with the local bad boy named Kyle, who is armed and dangerous! Both groups end up together and decide to save the Prom from the zombies.

I realized while writing that the synopsis it sounds confusing. But the story is put together well enough that it makes sense while watching the movie. While Dance of the Dead has many of the flaws that I don’t like in newer zombie movies, more on that later, it does have one of the better scripts. The characters are all likeable, even Kyle who is both a bully but sympathetic as well. Our leads Jimmy and Lindsey have actual character arcs, especially Jimmy who finally takes things seriously and realizes what is important to him. There is also an interesting twist where the nerd with a crush on the cheerleader gets his dreams answered… sort of. Someone wrote a script for a zombie movie with actual characters! As a reviewer who has watched a ton of independent zombie flicks this alone makes Dance of the Dead stand out.

Now this one does have some common flaws. We get a lot of CGI kills with bodies being cut in half with the legs wandering off. And dozens of bullet hits that are clearly digital work. I would have liked to seen more practical effects work when it came to the deaths. Some of the zombies that probably should have stayed in the background are obvious masks that border on Halloween costume quality. This was very disappointing because some of the other zombie designs looked great and that makeup was killer. Why give the bad masks a prominent location on the screen?

In spite of my issues with the gore and makeup I’m going to recommend Dance of the Dead. Someone actually made a zombie movie that cared about character development and made the audience care about what happened to those characters. This is why at least once a year Dance makes its way into the DVD player. I recommend it.



© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer

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