Saturday, May 31, 2008


This one's going to be a lot shorter than usual, boys and girls, because I really don't have much to say about DANCE OF THE DEAD, a 2005 episode of MASTERS OF HORROR directed by Tobe Hooper. It's not that it's a terrible episode--nor should it be, as it's written by Richard Christian Matheson, adapting one of his father's short stories--but for some reason it left me cold.

Matheson stays faithful to the source material, in this post-apocalyptic tale in which a rave-like club (run by Robert Englund as a vaguely effeminate MC) features corpses "dancing" thanks to the injection of a nerve-targeting drug. The story keeps this angle mostly in the background, preferring to focus on the relationship of a young, innocent girl with a tragic past (Jessica Lowndes) with both her overprotective mother (Marilyn Norry) and a drug-dealing gang (led by THE RUINS's Jonathan Tucker).

DANCE OF THE DEAD isn't bad; it's well-acted, and Matheson's teleplay offers a little more depth than the standard post-nuke zombie tale, even if the drama's not exactly fresh. Hooper's direction is simple yet effective, thankfully abandoning the stylistic trickery--distorted picture, editing so rapid-fire it's hard to determine on-screen activity--that mars the story's first act. But it isn't exactly good, either, failing to make a genuine impact on a narrative, visual, or dramatic level. Too often, it feels like something slapped together to fill a slot in the MASTERS OF HORROR line-up.

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