Title: Dance of the Dead (2007)

Starring Jared Kusnitz, Grayson Chadwick, Chandler Darby, Carissa Capobianco, Randy McDowell, Justin Welborn and Mark Oliver

Produced by Bleiberg Entertainment, Bishop Entertainment and Compound B

Written by Joe Ballarini

Directed by Gregg Bishop

Score: Technical: 100, Story: 97, Acting: 99, Overall: 99

When I first found out about Dance of the Dead, I said to myself, “Oh great, another zombie movie.” But once I watched the trailer for it, I actually thought it looked pretty good. When it came to DVD Tuesday, my suspicion and anticipation had grown to a ridiculous level, so I went out and purchased it. Honestly, I’m not horribly upset I did, but I was a tad let down.

It’s the night of Coosa High School’s prom, and everyone, for the most part anyway, is excited. High school sweethearts Jimmy (Jared Kusnitz) and Lindsey (Grayson Chadwick) are supposed to go to the dance together, but after getting trouble in science class, Lindsey tells Jimmy she’s not going with him. Head cheerleader, Gwen (Carissa Capobianco), finds out her date got food poisoning the night before and video geek, Steven (Chandler Darby), wants to ask her to the prom but she’d rather go with rocker Nash Rambler(Blair Redford). The school’s sci-fi club decides to go to the cemetary the night of prom, rather than going to the dance, to investigate the paranormal when suddenly the dead come back to life and attack the living. As it turns out, the town’s nuclear power plant has been dumping an unknown substance into the sewers, creating a gas that reanimates the dead. Can the underdogs of the school team up and defeat the living dead before they become one of them? You could probably figure it out a few minutes into the movie like I did.

Okay, to be fair, the movie, although predictable, is actually really great. For horror fans, there are references almost constantly varying from Dead Alive to Return of the Living Dead to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and George Romero’s Dead series. Of course, being the nerd I am, got a huge kick out of every single reference. However, I didn’t think the film was as funny as I thought it’d be, but it was great to watch anyway.

The special effects were phenomenal, especially for being an independent film. Towards the end of the film, there’s a graphic dismemberment of one of the characters which looked entirely realistic and even made me cringe a bit. There was a good mix of actual prosthetic special effects and CGI, and the CGI was good and not entirely cheesy. In fact, there’s a special feature on the DVD where it shows exactly what went into the process of making the CGI effects.

The actors, all of who were actually young kids (with the exception of the guy who played Kyle, Justin Welborn), made the film that much more believable. Nothing makes me more angry than watching a high school period movie with actors who are in their 20s. Even in the case of Kyle, I sort of got the impression that he could’ve failed a few grades the way his character was set up, in which case it was mildly believable.

The writing was great, although I do wish there were a few more laugh-out-loud moments. It was a nice mix of seriousness (i.e. sharing perhaps the characters’ last dance together) and hilarious high school drama (i.e. “Oh, tell her I said hi” as the kids are ducking away from flesh-eating zombies). And again, the references to other films made it even more enjoyable.

All in all, Dance of the Dead is a great film for fans of the genre. It’s sort of like Buffy meets Shaun of the Dead, in which case, it really worked. You should definitely pick this one up for some old nostalgia and good horror.

DVD Special Features

– Making of Dance of the Dead
Talks about the director’s first film, The Other Side, the town the movie was shot in, Rome, Georgia, casting, the film’s production designer, James Jarrett, stunt work and special effects.

-Deleted/Extended Scenes

Overall, none of them really needed to be in the film, hence the deleted scene section, but the scenes where Jimmy is trying to get a date are pretty funny

-Blood, Guts and Rock ‘n’ Roll: Effects and Stunts of Dance of the Dead
The director talking about using After Effects editing software and his decision for launching zombies out of their graves.

Short film from director Gregg Bishop. Overall pretty amusing.

-Trailer Gallery

-Also from Lionsgate

Dance of The Dead Movie Poster

By Tessa Petrocco

Tessa Petrocco is a freelance graphic designer and media professional. She graduated magna cum laude from Kent State University in 2007, earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Media Production. She moved to New York City that same year, where she worked as the Editorial Assistant and Content Coordinator for a popular film review website. Tessa enjoys spending time with her dog and boyfriend, knitting, volunteering and being a one-woman film reviewer.

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