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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The name "The Gravedancers" sounds way too much like something coming
out from the 80s low budget b-movie horror era. With its absurd plot
and not so strong characters. But it still succeeds in creating some
nice scenes where the viewer feels at least a bit unease.
The story is about a group of childhood friends who reunite after several years for the funeral of one of their pals. After a night of drinking they return to the cemetery in order to pay proper respect to their dead friend. On his grave they find a weird letter, written to sound as a "celebration of life". Our unlucky heroes while under the effects of alcohol naturally decide to begin chanting and dancing (on the graves) thus unleashing a trio of ghosts that begin terrorizing their lives.
There are several problems with the script. Besides the corny outline. There is the problem regarding the characters, more specifically there are several situations throughout the film that feel underdeveloped and possibly left unexplained. Such as for example, the presence of one of the leads wife. With her being out of danger, why did her husband still kept her around thus putting her at risk of being killed? This lack of providing solid reason is one that becomes very familiar in the movie. The characters themselves are nothing new we haven't seen before, their lines are monotonous and boring but not horribly acted. Indeed the performances are fairly decent and the actors could've done even better had they had a better script to work with.
The one thing this movie does good comes in terms of setting up an atmosphere and creating some nice jumping moments. For once instead of just remaking it, an western director has decided to employ a similar style to that of the more commercial successful Asian horror movies (Ringu, Dark Water etc. etc.). There are some very nice scenes that keep the viewer on the edge. The effects are nothing to brag about but still reasonably well done considering the not so high budget. Keeping to its corny name the ending looks like something out of a cheesy over the top horror movie, but by this point the final conclusions are already made so it doesn't really ruin the experience.
"The Gravedancers" is unlikely to cause any shift on the current direction of American horror movies but it is still a nice change from the never ending wave of remakes and weak teen slashers that over-flood our screens.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Gravedancers 2005 (Theatrical "R", After Dark Horrorfest)
Directed by Mike Mendez
After a solemn funeral, 3 friends, Harris, Kira, and Sid, decide to visit the graveyard, read a curse from a card on a tombstone, and then dance on 3 graves. The 3 ghosts then come back to torture their respective dancers for a month after which they will be "put to rest".
Where to start? This film is an odd mixture of clichéd ghost scares and laugh out loud bizarre scenes, while also supplying one of the scariest images I have seen in years. The plot, characters, and dialogue are wildly uneven and rarely make any sense. The haunting starts off slow and boring with the run of the mill scares such as loud plumbing, strange voices, and a piano that plays by itself. But just when I was about to nod off, they come at me with one of the scariest ghosts I have ever seen. (It was this image in the trailer that made this my must-see pick for the Horrorfest).
The 3 friends decide to meet up with paranormal experts who then figure out that they desecrated burial grounds, unleashed a curse, and must find a way to reverse it. Each of the 3 friends is stalked by their own ghost from the "Condemned" lot of the graveyard. Harris & wife Allison are stalked by the ghost of a woman who axe murdered her lover and his wife. Friend Sid is stalked by a child pyromaniac. And Kira, the unluckiest of the bunch, is stalked by a serial murderer/rapist/torturer.
What really makes this film worthwhile is the final showdown in the house with all 3 ghosts attacking at once. Again, the axe murdering ghost gives a horrific performance that had me pressed hard against my seat and clutching my jacket tight. I recommend seeing the film just for this part alone.
The film then culminates into one of the goofiest resolutions ever put on celluloid. The audience was howling with laughter. A hummer driving through 5 walls in a building? Check. A gigantic head chasing people? Check. Throwing skulls like footballs? Double Check.
Overall, the SFX varied at times. In some spots, the blood and bruises looked realistic, but there were some unbelievable CGI moments. Also, I noticed the wire spots where the ghost was hanging from in some scenes.
Favorite Quote: When a woman gets her throat slit open, squirts blood, and dies, the woman next to her says, "I think she's losing too much blood."
Bottom Line: Great scares, great laughs. Not to be taken too seriously, but you will have a blast.
Molly Celaschi www.HorrorYearbook.com MySpace.com/HorrorYearbook
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Three old college friends -- mature Harris (Dominic Purcell), happy-go-lucky Sid (Marcus Thomas) and sultry Kira (the lovely Josie Maran) -- are reunited at the funeral of a fellow college chum. After the funeral they all sneak into a cemetery at night, get drunk, read a sinister incantation poem, and dance on several graves. The trio unwittingly resurrect the deadly spirits of a lethal axe murderess, a deranged child pyromaniac and a vicious, depraved rapist who proceed to haunt them for an entire month. If the ghosts aren't laid back to rest right away, they will grow increasingly stronger and more dangerous as the month progresses. Director Mike Mendez gradually develops a truly creepy and unnerving atmosphere with great skill and conviction prior to pulling out all the stirring stops in the rousing and hair-raising final third. The three leads all give fine and appealing performances; they receive bang-up support from Clare Kramer as Harris' sweet wife Allison, Tcheky Karyo as eccentric paranormal investigator Vincent and Megahn Perry as Vincent's cute spunky assistant Culpepper. The cadaverous skull-faced ghouls are genuinely freaky and frightening. David A. Armstrong's smooth, gloomy cinematography, the admirably serious and sincere tone, Joseph Bishara's eerie score, the well-drawn and engaging main characters, and the excellent special effects further enhance the overall sound quality of this very solid and satisfying supernatural horror shocker.
Let me first state that this had a amateur feel to it. However, keeping
in mind that it is a horror movie, it much better than 90% of the
direct to video garbage out there.
The movie uses a combo to makeup effects and CGI to create the most out of the obvious limited budget. I appreciated the makeup effects more than the CGI gone mad conclusion of the movie.
The acting was tolerable and the side story about the friends honestly didn't bring much to the table. The fact that the ghost story actually had some creepy moments as well as funny moments.
I gave the movie 6 out of 10 which is high for me for this type of production. The bottom line is while the movie has the drawbacks that I listed above, it is still a entertaining horror flick. If you like horror or supernatural thrillers then you could do much worse.
Well, this film is often regarded as one of the better entries in the
'Eight Films to Die For' sets; but I wasn't very impressed with it.
Sure, it has a handful of good points; but unfortunately the film is
not particularly original or interesting and that ultimately condemns
it. The film does feature a starring role for Dominic Purcell; who
apparently is a star of a TV program called Prison Break, which I've
never watched. So I guess that a lot of Prison Break fans have given
this film a high rating. Anyway, the plot focuses on three people that
used to be friends and have reunited for the funeral of another friend,
who died (obviously). Anyway, the three of them go out and get drunk
and then decide (as you do) to go to a graveyard, where they read an
incantation from one of the gravestones and then proceed to dance on
the graves. This might not have been such a bad idea if it wasn't for
the fact that they were in the 'psycho section'. Anyway, it turns out
that the dead don't appreciate having their graves danced on; and the
three are terrorised by vengeful spirits.
Credit where credit is due; and it's due in the case of whoever designed the ghosts. Like most people, I'm tired of the Japanese style watery black haired ghosts, and the common smoke-like spectres that have featured all too often. For this film, the ghosts look more like something out of The Evil Dead (and possibly took some influence from the final chapter of the Mario Bava masterpiece Black Sabbath) and they really do look horrific. They're mostly well used too, and while the film goes way over the top on many occasions; it does feature a few jump scares that work well. However, the simple fact is that the story and characters just aren't interesting enough and the reason behind what is happening to the central characters lacks imagination. I have to admit that I didn't really care about anything that went on with the plot of this film and things only got less interesting when the whole ghost hunter plot was introduced. It all boils down to a silly ending and overall, while I really did like the special effects, this is a disappointing horror film and I do not recommend it.
Mike Mendez's follow up to his kick butt movie The Convent is a mixed bag of tricks. some work, some don't. Gravedancers tells the creative and original story of a group of friends reunited by a funeral. On the night of the occasion they get drunk and accidentally dance on some graves releasing the evil spirits in the wrong side of the cemetery. The spirits of a rapist/murderer, a pyre maniac and another murderer. The friends are haunted by these ghosts according to the curse for a month. And as the month comes to a close the paranormal attacks become stronger and stronger as the ghosts try to take the people with them. It's an intriguing concept and much fun is to be had with it. The performances are all decent, the story is creative and the movie is a little slow at the start but is wildly inventive and macabre once it gets going. Everything in the film is done with a winking eye so you can appreciate the film without feeling to guilty about it. The makeup is cartooned and freaky while the cgi is a little fake looking but an understandable necessity with a low budget especially in a film of this caliber. My main gripes however don't come with the film, it's more with the way it was released. You know i didn't mind shelling out 9.50 for this movie but I'm mad as heck that the film's sound transfer was messed up and sounded mono, and the film quality was amateur looking. It wasn't even fine tuned or polished by After Dark. what could've been delightfully freakish come across humorously because of the films lighting. It's dreadfully bright which kind of kills the suspense of a horror flick. The film looks like a rough cut and should have been really touched up before getting a theatrical release. Because they had a good product but ruined it with no effort at all. This doesn't bode well for their film company or the continuing success of a festival of this sorts. But in conclusion I would just like to say although not on the par of a worthy theatrical release this is definitely worth a look on DVD.
It was unbelievable how much I enjoyed this movie! As the plot summary
already reveals, it's basically about ghosts, but those ghosts are
about the scariest looking things I've ever seen! Too bad they aren't
shown for longer. That's my one major gripe about this film: the ghosts
needed more scream... oops, sorry... screen time! Another small gripe
is that the filmmakers kind of dropped the ball there at the end with
some sloppy special effects, but the entertainment factor for
Gravedancers is off the charts, which totally made up for that! Don't
miss it! I saw this one at Horrorfest and am already drooling over the
possibilities of being able to purchase a complete 2006 Horrorfest DVD
box set. I don't know how they're planning to market the DVDs, but
anything less than a box set would not do all the awesome entries to
this great event justice, plus I'm sure a lot of us didn't get the
chance to see all of them at our local theaters.
And please keep supporting R-RATED HORROR MOVIES with your patronage! It actually looks like the movie producers and directors out there are listening to us. The year 2006 was a great year for ADULT horror, and I'm sure that this year it'll just keep getting better!
I didn't know what to expect from the so called horror fest this weekend but I liked the trailer for The Grave Dancers so I picked this one to go see at the theater. I liked the way the movies characters both live and ghostly inter acted together and how the story moved and flowed through different characters' personal issue. The film had really good make up and the camera work and shooting was a real eye opener. It was well done. The story at times was predictable at times but the last few scenes really kicks it into high geared as the ghosts let it be known that they are not happy and become completely visible. At times it was a actually funny but I like to be positive and not just trash films because you have to have a level of respect for anyone who creates a film and gets it into a theater of any kind. I did like the fact that the writers didn't feel they needed to be a complete gore slasher type film, so often now blood and guts is king and I don't always need to see all that if it isn't needed to pull off the story. I recommend this film to anyone looking for a good horror type film that doesn't have to have blood coming from all angles to make you feel a little spooked.
I just watched GRAVEDANCERS, and what a film. If like me you are a horror fan (Especially of the 70's and 80's flicks), then you are gonna love this. To me it had everything -great scares and jumps all the way to superb effects from the director who gave us 'KILLERS' and THE COVENANT'!!! - That's what I thought, but this is a whole world away from those naff efforts. We start off with three friends attending the funeral of a buddy who has died in a car accident. Later that night they go to his grave to reminisce, drink booze and listen to music, when one of the friends reads a poem found on a card laying on the tombstone. Little do they realize what they about to read is going to upset some truly evil ghosts, who are going to stop at nothing until they all die a grisly death. This reminded me of a cross between 'THE FRIGHTENERS' and 'THE EVIL DEAD' -A strong cast and an excellent supporting cast give the film a strong backbone. but for me the direction and brilliant storyline did it for me. Take the film for what it is - a throwback to horror films of years gone by (Mendez obviously has a love for the old stuff). Trust me, you will see a lot worse than this - I actually don't think I will see a better horror film this year. A very impressive 9 out of 10.
Okay, I've just watched this and I thought it was amazing. I loved it.
Yeah some of the CG is cheesy, and some of the acting is ham, but
nearly every movie you watch these days is.
This film has an excellent script, with characters that, well I did, you like. The plot of the tale is well executed and the suspense that the director has put into the movie is top notch. This is how horror film should be produced. This is a creepy, atmospheric horror which doesn't feature teens running around screaming. I advise any true horror fan to go out and give it ago, especially any old school horror fans.
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