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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.
A rather good offering of horror and the supernatural to behold. Think a better version of the remake of "The Haunting" with a bit of "The Entity" thrown in as well. The movie revolves around a group of three friends who are in mourning for the recent loss of a friend. One of the group wants to go to the cemetery at night to mourn the friend by drinking and talking with his other two college buds. Of course, you know in a movie of this type that is a mistake and is going to lead to the cause of the problem. Well not entirely, the one friend finds a type of card on their friend's grave, with a bit of a poem celebrating life on it, one of course does this by dancing on graves and yes this is the start of the spooky stuff as the title does imply. So what we have is our three friends seemingly being haunted, minimally at first and it progresses worse and worse as the movie goes on. Paranormal investigators are brought in to try and help and one of them is really helpful, the other not so much. I won't tell you which one is which, but I will tell the female one is really cute. I love a girl with black hair and kind of a bookish look to her. You will have to wait a bit for some kills, but that is okay as the movie has a good enough story to overcome this. It isn't all perfect as there is a bit of confusion as to why the letter is set on the grave in the first place though I do suppose it adds a hint of mystery to the flick. Just like the poor unfortunate girl who is shown at the beginning. Some of the effects at the end were a bit cheesy as well, however, this can be forgiven too because I doubt this movie had a very big budget. I can say though that the spooks looked rather good.
First of all, I'm one of those people who go into horror movies and
ending up laughing at every little thing in it. This movie is probably
on the same level of SNAKES ON A PLANE. So if you liked that movie, I'd
say you'd like this. It has the same sense of the movie SEEMS serious,
but it can't possibly be serious because of the ridiculousness.
The last few minutes of the movie made me laugh till I cried my brains out. It really was a great time.
The photography in the movie was brilliant. There were beautifully put-together scenes.
The plot line, eh, it was okay at best.
But you can't go into movies like these being pretentious or demanding that your expectations be met.
In order to truly enjoy a movie, you have to take it for what it is, not for what you want it to be. Different people are scared by different things.
And as for me, I just laugh at everything.
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