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Saw the premiere at Tribeca. Was really hoping to love it. Forgave the first onslaught of horror clichés, writing them off as elements of horror movie tradition, but as they wore endlessly on, so did my patience. The director (Mike Mendez) should be praised for doing what he could with an abominable script, mediocre actors, and laughable makeup & effects. The atmosphere was genuinely creepy and the photography very good. However, Mendez overused the clichéd "Creepy music building to a benign startle" and "Eerie silence punctuated by loud startling noise" ad nauseum. Get a new gimmick. Overall, I would be excited to see what Mendez would do with a better script and cast, a larger budget, and the confidence to rely on atmosphere and story rather than cheap scares.
Old college friends drunkenly reunite at a funeral and end up dancing
on the graves of weird killers. But they must pay a price ...
Let's reclassify the idea of cheese. Some things stink, in that they're repulsive to the senses. Movies rely on the senses, so they do sometimes stink. Some cheeses stink, but strangely they are pleasing, delicious. The cheese that repulses the body is the processed stuff, the nontritional crap that kills us, the mid-western, low-fat feast of obesity. In that sense, this movie stinks.
The writing, direction, editing, music and acting stink. Gold standard soap opera, heavy with worthless dialogue. Childish, conservative rubbish.
Best line: "Someone's coming! Let's get out of here!" OR "Wait - do you guys smell smoke?" OR "I think she's gone .... AAARRRGGH!" OR just, "AAARRRGGGH!"
Some review comments say, "But the ghouls are great, wait for it, wait for it!" No. Everything stinks.
Damn you, BA-Harrison! IMDb's best reviewer in epic fail. You gave it an 8/10 - eight out of ****** ten! And it's 95 ****** minutes long.
Mike Mendez directs this supernatural horror that manages to be a great
mix of the darkly humorous with the deadly serious and the clichéd with
The story is a pretty simple one; three friends (Dominic Purcell, Josie Maran and Marcus Thomas) let their hair down after the funeral of another friend of theirs. The night ends with them dancing on some graves and making themselves the focus of attention for some very angry spirits. Some mildly spooky behaviour soon escalates and the trio find out that they only have a limited timeframe in which to fix things before they are dragged off by the angry spirits. Can a couple of paranormal investigators (played by Tchéky Karyo and Megahn Perry) help? Is there anything that can undo the damage that has been done?
Providing a great mix of low-key spookiness with some nice jump scares and creepy imagery, The Gravedancers is one of the better "little" horror movies you could treat yourself to watching. The acting is all okay, if nothing special, and the effects are very well done, for the most part. There are a few twists and turns here and there but, by and large, this is a straightforward thrill-ride. Yes, there are moments when it comes very close to being impossible to swallow but it just, somehow, manages to keep you onside and involved with the plight of the characters so that you're too busy wanting to see someone get saved than wondering just how far-fetched it's all getting.
I'd like to see more from Mike Mendez. On the basis of this movie, he knows how the genre works and makes the most out of the little moments of unease in between the big scares. Which is a major asset for anyone making horror, in my book.
See this if you like: Flatliners, Night Of The Demon, Drag Me To Hell.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mike Mendez has the talent to direct a really great horror film. However, Gravedancers is not it. Gravedancers is not a bad flick. Actually, it's one of the better films from the first After Dark Horrorfest. But it's just silly enough to keep it from reaching the "classic" echelon. The plot follows a group of old college friends who gather to attend a funeral for one of their own. They drink a little alcohol to celebrate their fallen compadre and pretty soon are dancing on graves; hence the title. The ghosts of said graves aren't particularly impressed with their dance skills and decide to haunt them and make their lives a living hell until the next full moon. It sounds a little wacky, no? It is, and it hurts the film. It straddles the line between cheesy and terrifying a little too much often tipping the scales into the cheesy territory. But when's it's terrifying, MAN! Mendez packs a genuine thrill into the scares. There are a couple of scenes that rivaled Exorcist III on the jump scale. For that alone I have to recommend you give this a look. Just remember I warned you about the goofy parts and you will probably enjoy Gravedancers. For the next, drop the comedy Mendez.
Wow! I get to see Tchéky Karyo (The Patriot) two days in a row. I just
watched him with Nick Nolte in The Good Thief, and now here he is as a
ghost hunter (yeah, right) with a beautiful assistant Megahn Perry.
But, they come in later.
First, there is the grave dancing - and grave pissing. I am sure everyone has at least thought about pissing or dancing on someone's grave. Well, you might want to rethink that after seeing this film, especially if you are the type that watches "Ghost Hunters" on TV. Hee Hee.
After doing the drunken deeds, our heroes: Dominic Purcell (Primeval, Equilibrium), Josie Maran (Van Helsing) and Marcus Thomas (Edmond), are getting their reward - crazed spirits after them.
This spooky film has it all: creaky sound, apparitions, super special effects, blood and gore, and perversion in what i would call a traditional horror film. There is enough to keep your interest throughout, and certainly enough to keep you jumping out of your seat.
And, hey, I wonder who did the casting here as I see a couple of more people from The Patriot?
Gravedancers is one of those films that just plays fun. While watching it you think how much fun the makers must have had cause the gleeful way in which it plays out suggests that. essentially, three friends dance on some graves during a drunken night of mourning a recently deceased friend. Of course, this being a horror film they get more than they bargained for since a curse is laid on them and the spirits of the occupants of the three graves come back for revenge. The cast is uniformly strong, especially Tcheky Karyo and Clare Kramer. The FX are strong, although they are used sparingly and effectively. The climax is a nod to Evil Dead II and cements the old school style of the film. All in all, a fun fright flick.
Dominic 'Prison Break' Purcell gets drunk with two of his friends and
they all dance on graves which doesn't sit well while the insane dead
people who's graves they're dancing on and the ghosts decide to haunt
these fools. OK, granted the plot is not the most stable, but I found
myself enjoying this throwback to '80's horror film none the less. If
you forgive the opening sequence that has jack all to do with the rest
of the film and the mind baffling climax that turns a pretty cool
little horror flick into a borderline comedy, you'll find yourself with
a decent film. One capable of providing a few thrills and chills.
Purcell was good as the main lead. Almost made me forgive Mike Mandez
for "Bimbo Movie Bash"... ALMOST.
My Grade: B
Lionsgate's DVD Extras (R1): Commentary by director Mike Mendez and composer Joe Bashara; 13 minute Making of featurette; deleted scenes; 12 minute look at the making of the ghosts(all of the aforementioned extras have optional commentary) ; storyboard gallery ;3 minute promo trailer; an After Dark compilation trailer; and trailers for Unrest, Reincarnation, the Hamiltons, Dark Ride, & Penny Dreadful
Easter Egg: In the special features menu, highlight the "Also from Lion's Gate" icon and press right for a grave marker icon, click it for a short scene of how a certain effect was done
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am a horror buff and have seen quite a few horror movies. I really liked this movie. I gave this movie high ranks for the really well done makeup and the interesting characterizations, but mainly for the intense feel to the plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. The first third of the movie is a bit of a bump-in-the-night portion, that elegantly sets up the latter two-thirds of the movie, as the action builds and the three friends attempt to survive the haunting. The creature affects were some of the most horrifying that I have ever seen (it is the sort of work that gives one nightmares).
You had Dominic Purcell from TV's "Prison Break". He was also in
"Blade:Trinity". Josie Moran is from "Van Helsing" which had Hugh
Jackman and Kate Beckinsale. Moran played one of the vampire brides.
Tchecky Karyo (sp?) is known for "Taking Lives" with Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke. He was also in the James Band flick, "GoldenEye". I first saw him in the original "La Femme Nikita" (the French 1990 version). He is an excellent actor.
By the way, the movie was actually pretty good. The ending was kind of cheesy, but it was still entertaining. It was the least bloody, and gory, of all of the Horrorfest flicks. It is currently out on DVD. Check it out. You'll like it.
I have been eagerly awaiting Mendez's next film, since the The Convent, which was one of my favorite horror films' that year. While Gravdancers is a much more serious, and different film from Convent, I still had a blast.I have one minor complaint, but first I'll start with the good. Number one as several others have mentioned, it's refreshing to see a genre film with actual adult actors, who are reasonably intelligent, although dancing on graves isn't to bright, and not the usual stereotypes. The production values are top notch, and it's just amazing how superior Gravedancers is to virtually every other tired Hollywood supernatural snooze fest to come out over the last several years'. Buffy fans will take delight in Carol Kramer's performance as Purcell's wife. Now my one minor complaint. Dominic Purcell seems like a wooden, and uninteresting actor to me. I didn't mind him so much, as I just was thinking about a hundred other guys who would have been better in the role. I'm probably alone on that, as Prison Break is so popular, but just a minor observation. I highly recommend this movie.
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