Monday, 24 June 2013

Dance of the Dead - review

2008 (USA)

Contains mild spoilers.

Well, we're back. A bit of a break and a new year can do wonders at reinvigorating an old rotten corpse, or something like that. So what better way to return to the world of undead than with the witty 2008 independent zombie romcom Dance of the Dead.

There's a recognised heritage within the zombie genre and Dance of the Dead wouldn't be the first film to play homage to many of its peers. An opening sequence  sees the cemetery man, yes from Dellamorte Dellamore, and keeper of secrets dealing with the unintended side effects of having dead people buried next to a big green smoking power plant; think Return of the Living Dead meets Springfield.

Lindsey (Greyson Chadwick), girlfriend of pizza delivery guy and all-round loser Jimmy (Jared Kusnitz) dumps him on the eve of the big high school prom choosing instead to go with her more sensitive and grown-up suitor Mitch. With other ideas Mitch first decides to take Lindsey to the cemetery (where else would you go?) for a bit of a kiss and a fumble where the local sci-fi geek club are also out looking for paranormal activities, and presumably because they didn't get dates for the ball. As they fumble around a crypt against the wishes of the cemetery keeper they disturb the dead who start to appear en masse. 

Braaaaiiiiiiinnnnnnnsssssssssss. Things have soon, haven't they always, escalated totally out of control. Mitch is the first casualty; both a victim of the horde as well as his over-reaching ambitions on Lindsey and the undead are exploding out of the ground, literally, with gusto. The gang are forced into a desperate retreat and with the burgeoning zombie horde beginning to swarm into the town, the gang are joined by the resident school bad-ass Kyle (Justin Welborn), cheerleader Gwen (Carissa  Capobianco) and the hero of our film Jared.  As they begin a battle for survival, first taking refuge in the town funeral parlour, they soon realise that  the real problem is the kids at school prom who oblivious to the mortal peril they're in, could easily, if found, provide feeding ground zero for the zombie world apocalypse and realise it's down to them to save the world.

Dance of the Dead is over the top, fun and full of vitality. Despite the comedy angle don't for one minute assume it holds its gore punch. The zombies are nasty, fast and scary as is the various methods used to dispatch them. They're dumb, lumbering and very much in keeping with the traditional western style but when roused they're quick and vicious and certainly have a little  of the more modern 28 Days Later influence.

For an indie title with a small budget it's wonderfully produced and full of style, wit with sequences and action scenes that would easily fit into a film with ten times the resources. The characters and acting is genuinely top notch with stand out performances from Chadwick and Kusnitz and despite being full of cliché it still feels refreshing and light. The youthful cast and kick ass sound track help it retain its high school look and feel though out; as I've said despite oodles of blood it stays fresh and light and fun though to a big climax.

A homage to Return of the Living Dead, Dance of the Dead is a top tier zombie indie title that is well worth an evening with popcorn and a beer, 7/10.



  1. Hi, great to have you back. I can't recall wether you reviewed La Horde - if not, well worth it.

    I watched Warm Bodies yesterday and was rather taken by it, despite the production company heritage (and it being a rom zom com)/

    1. Thanks, it's good to be back. I'll check out both your recommendations, cheers!

  2. Yeah, it's no 'Shaun', but in an age with so much zombie garbage, I loved seeing a competent comedy.

    Nice review.

    1. Thanks, even though I meant homage to Return and not Night OTLD; too many Deads or something. I've checked out your blog and I'm in, good stuff!