Everywhere I looked, I saw nothing but high praise for this movie. They called it the next best thing for zombie films since Shaun of the Dead. And since I love zombies, and Shaun of the Dead is one of my all-time favorite movies, I had to check it out. And… well… uh…
Dance of the Dead has a pretty simple concept (and even a good one). On the night of the Prom, the dead rise from the grave and start eating people. And with the giant buffet waiting for them at the Prom, the only people left to stop them are the ones who didn’t go or couldn’t make it to the dance (for whatever reason). And it has the whole Breakfast Club ensemble, from the nerds to the cheerleaders to the punk rockers and the rebels.
Along with Shaun, the other movie that I heard this get compared to a lot was Return of the Living Dead. And that scared me, because I freakin hate Return of the Living Dead. It’s the bottom of the barrel on zombie movies and, to me, a disgrace to the genre. And unfortunately, Dance of the Dead was way more like Return than Shaun.
The best parts of the movie were the parts without the zombies, and for a zombie movie, that’s not a good thing. The opening bits with the character interactions were good and relatable, and all these are what reminded me of Shaun of the Dead. But once the zombies start up, that all seems to dumb down a lot and just get silly. My other favorite part was anything with the Gravedigger.
But with the actual zombies, everything was wrong. Let me just say that the second I heard them moaning for “Brains,” the movie started to go down on my rating scale (zombies cannot talk, nor do they prefer brains over any other part of the body). Then they did the next annoying thing, which is that just because you decapitate a zombie does not mean it is dead. What? Of course it does! Separation of the brain from the body equals zombie death! And this also means that if you cut off a limb or whatever, that said limb (whether it be legs, hands, etc.) should stop moving. Both of those things were two major issues that made me really hate Return of the Living Dead. But then we get to some other dumb stuff in the movie. Apparently these zombies can break down an engine or drive cars, but they can’t open a front door or break through a window. Oh, and punk rock music makes them stop attacking…. Huh?
There are so many things that bugged me about this movie. Even outside the zombie stuff and just under the actions of the characters, it just kept falling further and further into the realm of nonsensical and over-the-top silliness. Even the gore (which was plentiful) was just way too fake and over-the-top for my taste. The movie did get a few tiny chuckles out of me, though that was more toward the beginning. And as much as it set up all the characters and relationships in the first 10 or 15 minutes, I really didn’t care too much about who lived or died, which takes away most of the suspense. Even the awesome set up of a big epic zombie battle was just a set up for an ultimate let down (it’s like the final Twilight book all over again). Not to mention the movie was mostly predictable. So I hate to be against the norm on this movie, but that’s just how it is. This is not the next coming of Shaun of the Dead. This is just a slightly better done version of Return of the Living Dead.
The Zed Word
(P.S. Ironic rating, huh?).