Director – Tobe Hooper
Cast – Jonathan Tucker, Jessica Lowndes, Ryan McDonald, Marilyn Norry, Lucie Guest, Robert Englund
Release Year – 2005
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Tobe Hooper was an obvious choice for inclusion in the “Masters of Horror” series, mainly because of his amazing debut horror effort, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I truly believe that he could have never directed Poltergeist and The Funhouse and still be an immediate name mentioned in the likes of great horror directors. This Texas-bred Austinite’s first entry into the “Masters of Horror” series, Dance of the Dead, was an interesting watch showed great Hooper direction, with a unfortunate mediocre script.
Dance of the Dead takes place in a post-apocalyptic society run by an underworld of punks and ingrates. One day a group of 4 young punks make trouble at 17 year old Peggy’s family diner. Before her over-protective mother manages to shoo the punks away, the sweetest of the group, Jak, manages to convince her to go out with him later that night. Jak takes sweet little Peggy to the Doom Room, a hangout for him and his cohorts run by a ringmaster known as The M.C.(Robert Englund, hah!). The object of the Doom Room? To watch The M.C. bring his dancers, the living dead, on stage for a night of fun and shock(literally). It is then that Peggy discovers the answer to a question that has plagued her for years, an answer that drives her to someone she never thought she would become.
I never could find myself getting into this film very much. Story-wise I was interested in this film due to it’s use of the “undead”, something not shown very much in the “Masters of Horror” series, but unfortunately the “undead” really was not the focus of the film. In fact, I could not really find any focus at all regarding this flick. None of the characters were likeable, including our lead Peggy, whom we are SUPPOSED to care for. I blame bad writing and development for that. While Tobe Hooper’s direction was shot well and edited nicely, it seemed for the longest time this film was just about a group of punk kids driving around getting wasted and laughing. It is not until the latter half of the film that we get any sense of horror at all. Even then, the horror is never really there, and this just winds up being a cool film to watch if you are into the underground rough-and-tough type places, particularly run down strip clubs. While I am not the biggest fan of such places, it was nice to watch such a place where people can get downright rowdy and nasty while watching some undead action on stage. No, the undead were not killing nor eating anything, but were instead injected with human blood to turn them into raving savages who were then constantly shocked with cattle rods for fun. Sound f*cked up, well…it is, and I liked that.
The big development during the final act of the film was an interesting one and provided the only real conflict we got. From the on out the rest of the film is well written and ends with an awesome and dreadful climax. Of course, absolutely nothing in this flick beats the scene of Robert England (as The M.C.) kicking back onstage while getting a blowjob from one of the non-undead girls. Yes, you read right.
Overall, this was an OK film that I would only recommend if you want to see a bunch of kids mess around in a counterculture-esque atmosphere with some cool scenes toward the end. I find it hard to really recommend this film, but Hooper’s direction was good and it seems he made the best out of this mediocre script.
– I ranked this film #25 of 26 entries in my Ranking the “Masters of Horror” Entries post.