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“You get the machete”
“But I don’t know how to shoot a machete.”
Ah another day another zombie comedy. Dance of the Dead has been on my radar for months having heard all the praise lavished on it following its showing at the South By Southwest festival earlier in the year. So how does it actually stand up against all the hype?
More-or-less set during a single day (which is surprisingly common for zombie films, unlike most mainstream movies) Dance of the Dead follows a bunch of highly cliche schoolkids as they try to survive the unoriginal zombie attack on their school. Having been raised from the dead (presumably due to the nearby nuclear power-station) on the evening of the high-school prom, the zombie plague ravages the little town, finally converging on the school. The Sci-fi club were naturally too nerdy to get dates to this event, but were unfortunately stupid enough to be spending their evening playing Ghostbusters in the nearby cemetery during the zombie uprising. They have to group together to find all their fellow dateless losers and formulate a plan to come to the rescue of the prom guests.
Pure wish-fulfilment fantasy from start to finish, Dance of the Dead might well have been a script John Hughes accidentally misplaced in the 80’s and rediscovered in 2008. Losers talking back to teachers, Nerds rescuing cheerleaders, schools exploding, kids saving the day… all this harks back to the glory-days of teen cinema. The actors here actually are the age they’re playing, the jokes are brilliant and not just tacked on, and the horror is played straight giving the perfect example of how to pitch a horror-comedy.
There are some great scenes here, in particular the grave-rising which reminded me of the motorcycle zombie scene from Dellamorte Dellamore (as did the gravekeeper). Also we have zombies who actually call for “braaaiiins!” (which is strangely a stereotype that is almost never seen in zombie films), and a cheerleader who turns undead at a particularly unfortunate moment for the geek she is about to ‘romance’.
I found this a great addition to the zombie genre. Sure, it’s ludicrously unoriginal as everything in this whole film has been done over-and-over elsewhere, but who cares? It was genuinely funny and brilliantly acted, and the whole package was top class. I hope that one day people look back on this movie with the same fondness we give to Return of the Living Dead.
Gore Score B-
Norks Score F
Originality Score D
Overall Score A-