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*** 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
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.
*** 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.
I saw this based on some positive reviews just in case it really was a
more serious movie that wasn't based on blood and gore like most
"horror" today. Well, there wasn't much blood. The "impressive" ghosts
were roughly leftover props and effects from "Ghostbusters", the plot
was barely noticeable and they found the most annoying actor available
for the male lead. Well, maybe it did match the character. And the
"twist" wasn't too overplayed. Barely competent work but pointless and
It does deserve some kind of award for the most ludicrous title ever, though.
Even the director himself admits that his movie wasn't that
greatsometimes he even compares it to a joke. I'm here to say it
outright sucked, even for an indie film.
The opening scene was solid and probably the best scene in the movie. After that, you're thrust into cliché after cliché. It reminded me of those old kid's books/mini-movies, Goosebumps, but without the solid plot structure. Honestly, some of them have better plotting and stories than this. This is nothing but pure traditional horror than your grandparents enjoyed, but it isn't scary or have any true horror to it.
I respect and like the director after hearing his commentary. And it would be a lie to say there aren't some nifty death/scare scenes. But the story and the flow suck, even for amateur filmmakers. Look up Mike Mendez when he makes his next movieavoid this one with your life unless it's free to watch on TV.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Gravedancers starts as three close friends Harris McKay (Dominic
Purcell), Kira Hayden (Josie Maran) & Sid Vance (Marcus Thomas) mourn
the death of friend Devin Lansing who was buried earlier that day. For
some reason Sid suggests that they all go to the cemetery, break in
with lots of booze, sit around their Lansing's grave & get drunk which
Harris & Kira surprisingly agree to. While at the cemetery Sid notices
a note & starts to read it as Harris & Kira randomly dance around on
graves while drunk. Two weeks later & the three friends are
experiencing supernatural phenomenon, they see ghost's who try to
attack them & notice things moving on their own & general spooky stuff.
Sid contacts paranormal investigator Vincent Cochet (Tchéky Karyo) who
quickly realises that they are dealing with a bad case of burial
desecration, with the vengeful spirits of an arsonist, a axe murderer &
a rapist trying to kill them Harris, Sid & Kirra must lay the ghost's
to rest before it's too late...
Directed by Mike Mendez this was one of the so-called Films to Die For at the 2006 After Dark Horrorfest or whatever it's called along with the likes of Wicked Little Things (2006), Unrest (2006) & Penny Dreadful (2006) & isn't the worst of the bunch but The Gravedancers isn't the best either, as a straight supernatural horror film it's watchable enough but it's by means any sort of masterpiece. The script is a mixed bag really, the tone is very serious & I just couldn't get over how three grieving friends would break into a cemetery in the middle of the night & get drunk while dinging & dancing, you know I just didn't buy it & these are supposed to be adults with one a respected lawyer. The first hour or so of The Gravedancers is quite slow, doors open by themselves, the pet Cat goes mental & strange noises are heard but it's all pretty standard dull haunted house horror stuff. Then the final thirty odd minutes is a roller-coaster of effects & set-pieces as we get rotting zombie ghost's, possession, an obvious plot twist, giant screaming ghost heads, & fires popping up all over the place as it feels like the makers wanted to cram as much in as they could during the last thirty minutes to compensate for the none event of the first sixty. To be fair to it The Gravedancers is alright, sure there are elements of Poltergeist (1983) & any Japanese-Asian ghost horror you can name but it's watchable & it competent if not amazing.
Ther's not much gore here, there's a cool slit throat & some blood splatter but nothing else really, the body count is low & all the death's happen during the final twenty minutes except one during a seemingly unconnected opening sequence that was included against the director's wishes apparently. The special effects are pretty good actually, the giant screaming ghost face that chases Harris & Alison through the house is actually quite impressive. While the first hour or so goes for suspense & cheap scares the final thirty minutes goes all out for spectacle, as I said it's just rather uneven & why didn't they dance on graves belonging to nice people?
Probably shot on a low budget this was apparently meant as the start of a trilogy & the script was around as early as 1999 but didn't get made until 2005. Filmed in Greensboro in North Carolina. Apparently the actor's didn't meet each other until two days before filming, while it's not great I have seen worse acting I suppose.
The Gravedancers is an alright supernatural haunted house horror that has obvious influences, the whole story is silly yet it takes itself very seriously which gives it an odd vibe. Worth watching as a cheap rental or if you can catch it on telly for free but otherwise you can easily skip this one.
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!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Gravedancers is a tale of two films. The first part is a real creepy
ghost story that tells the tale of a group of 3 friends that have lost
one of their own friends to death. Later after the funeral proceedings
have ended the 3 of them decide to go back to their friend's grave and
drink some final toasts to him. While they are their one of them
discovers a mysterious letter is left on their friend's grave that one
of them reads out loud and after a few too many brew-skies they begin
to turn up the music and as the title states, grave dance.
Thinking that nothing has happened they soon realize that their lives have been forever altered as each one has borough home the spirits of 3 individuals that when alive were not among the town favorites. One a sadomasochistic womanizer,another a vengeful woman and last but not least a pyromaniac child, real nice people to bring back from the dead. As the movie progresses we go through some jump scares here and there and the film really seems to be coming together,until the last act.
For some however the second act will bring its detractors as the final confrontation with the Gravedancing Trio and the spirits turns a tad silly especially a grand finale which features a nearly Two Story Tall Giant P'ed Off Ghosthead (you read that right)that tears its way through a mansion to try to get to one of our characters. Unfortunately it really seemed out of place especially considering what suspense was built up in the first act of the film. Saying that however the parts leading up to "Ghostzilla" did not disappoint me as we do get to see some really nice creature/ghost effects before that questionable Giant Head sequence. The ghosts looked really creepy and added some nice freaky touches.
In the end even though the movie is uneven it does entertain. Those who are creep-ed out by ghost stories will be creep-ed out with this one for the most part but when the final act hits those creep-ed out by its beginning and creature effects will probably be scratching their head in wonder about that darn floating head. In the end there is far more positives than negatives and is a nice little niche cult horror flick. I give Gravedancers a solid; 6/10: Above average. If the tone would have continued and the Giant Floating head and a cheesy "3 point shot" sequence would have been scrapped for an alternate ending this one would have definitely been a total experience. Still those in the mood for a fun creepy at times ghost story with some genuinely eerie ghosts this is a must see, just keep your expectations in check.
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