Thursday, October 16, 2008
Dance of the Dead
It’s prom time, the most magical time in a young woman’s life (rolling eyes) and preparations are underway for the special event at a local high school in Georgia. After a prelude homage to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, we’re quickly introduced to the students of generic high, an assemblage of every high school cliché to grace the silver screen including the jock, the sci-fi nerds, the pretty cheerleader, the goofball, the bully, the high achiever, and the rock band wannabees. This is the kind of high school that only exists on film where the students rule with snarky insouciance and the teachers are either jerks or unstable (e.g., Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Rock and Roll High School, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, etc). While the students contend with their stupid problems (e.g., this one likes that one, but that one like someone else), there is a zombie outbreak at the local cemetery, conveniently located near a nuclear power plant that has not been disposing of its waste properly. As the zombies literally burst forth from the ground (a nice sequence, by the way), prom night arrives and it’s up to a Breakfast Club bunch to put aside their differences in order to take on the meat eating menace headed to the big event.
Creating a funny horror movie is a tricky thing given that humor and horror appear to be mutually exclusive. However a few films have demonstrated that the two genres can co-exist orthogonally (e.g., Shaun of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead, etc). Dance of the Dead tries desperately to be in this category and almost succeeds but ultimately fails due to its uneven tone. For every really funny comment or moment, there are equally unfunny, stupid moments. With a little editing I believe Dance of the Dead could be a stronger and funnier film. However, despite this criticism the film is hilarious at times and once the town is taken over by the undead it’s also action packed, violent, and gruesome.