1981-1990HorrorKatt SheaUSAWomen Make Horror

Katt Shea – Dance of the Damned (1989)

Very low-budget BUT very well done.
Author: capkronos from Ohio, USA
29 January 2002

This is a wonderful low-budget sleeper, proving that not all contemporary Roger Corman-produced films are trash. And all it really is is a night long conversation between a self-destructive, suicidal stripper and a brooding, world weary vampire. Go figure. But it also would probably take a more mature, patient viewer to sit through this one, because if you’re looking for gore, action and special effects, you’ll find little of that here. Expect a low key character study similar to a stage play, with lots of dialogue and few location changes. This film itself proves you don’t have to be a slave to FX work when working inside the realm of horror. There can be so much more to the genre than just cheap shocks when a common horror theme is put into the hands of someone with talent and imagination. I have no doubt when this was green lit the director was expected to make a vampire movie with nudity that could be sold off as direct-to-video exploitation. In this case, she actually managed to make something of it and that, my friends, does not happen too often.

The script by Katt Shea and Andy Ruben (who were married at the time this was made) not only has some great insight into the outcast condition and very good character development but also some wonderfully poetic passages. One highlight is a beautifully written scene on a beach where the leading lady has to explain to the Vampire what sunlight feels like. It’s in her description of this simple feeling that gives her back her will to live. In scenes where the two characters describe their troubled pasts, the monologues are so well written and detailed you can visualize them without having to actually see them on screen. Any movie with a budget would have predictably went into flashback mode but here we’re asked to use our imaginations. Clever parallels are drawn between two different lost souls (not to mention two different species); one of whom is forced to live in the night and the other so wounded she’s compelled to. Both leads (Starr Andreeff and Cyril O’Reilly) are very good and do their roles justice, and this film manages to be thought-provoking, sometimes very funny and ultimately moving. While a million fx-driven blockbuster type movies involving vampires come and go and entertain while they’re around, this one has actually has resonated with me more over time than films like BRAM STOKER’S Dracula, INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, etc. It’s a shame not many people know anything about it.

I not only recommend this, but also the director’s excellent STREETS (starring a young Christina Applegate), and even her more exploitative serial-killer-in-a-strip-club flick STRIPPED TO KILL. They’re all well above average for the genre, humorous at times, well written and with a heavy concentration on character. Shea shows the same kind of early talent as the best directors to come from Roger Corman U… including Francis Ford Coppola and Jonathan Demme. In fact, I’d probably place her near the top of the list of the countless directors Corman has supported over the years. And she’s certainly one of the most promising female director’s I’ve ever come across viewing countless low budget films.

Amazingly, DANCE was remade in 1993 as TO SLEEP WITH A VAMPIRE. That version, which was also produced by Corman and reused much of the same storyline and dialogue, does not come close to this version. Guess which one has been released on DVD? I wish I could say it was this, but unfortunately some boneheads decided to release the remake instead while this worthy film languishes in VHS obscurity. Hopefully someone, some day will get this out to the masses so it can find an audience.


Container: Matroska
Runtime: 1 h 22 min
Size: 2.37 GiB
Codec: x264
Resolution: 1024x552 
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Frame rate: 24.000 fps
Bit rate: 3 908 kb/s
BPP: 0.288
#1: English 2.0ch AAC LC @ 184 kb/s




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