While all the cool, popular teens are donning their tuxes and gowns and making their way to the school Prom, the Science Club are in the graveyard next to the town's nuclear power station. And when the dead unexpectedly start rising from their graves, it's the nerds and the kids without prom dates who have to battle the zombies and save the day.
During the opening part of the movie, where we are introduced to the characters, I wasn't optimistic. It felt like this was going to be another teen comedy with annoying characters that tries too hard to be funny. That was until the graveyard resurrection scene! That's when the special effects, humour and fun performances really take off. The gore is handled well, with a combination of practical effects and CGI, and while not all the results are as effective as films with much bigger budgets, this actually works in its favour. The occasional cheesiness is what brings the comedy and horror elements together so well. That's not to say the gore is bad - there are amazingly well created set pieces. And extra points go to any movie that includes a passionate but cannibalistic inter-zombie snog!
The performances are uniformly great, and as the characters are developed, they were revealed as being very likeable and I found myself caring about what happens to them. There is wonderfully amusing fight choreography, and surprisingly good soundtrack. The background music overall was pretty effective I thought. Between the moments of bloodshed are little gems of silliness. I particularly liked the face-hugging zombie frog, and the 'hero' driving around in a car with a giant fake pizza fixed to the roof.
The creators are clearly fans of classic zombie movies. There are references to The Return Of The Living Dead (1985) - It's hard not to smile at the undead crying out for "brains!!" or the survivors unwittingly barricading themselves in a funeral home. It's also fun spotting nods to other similar movies from the 1970s and 80s,
Dance Of The Dead might not be especially frightening, but it is violent, gruesome, and full of action. It's a classic tale of the underdog finding their inner strength (and a lot of sharp garden implements) and surviving against the odds. It isn't the goriest, scariest or funniest movie out there, but it makes great use of what it has, and brings those different elements together well. It kept me fully entertained and it even made me laugh, and that makes it a good film in my book! 4/5