Reviewed by: Dave Murray
What's it about
After the funeral of their best friend, three childhood pals get rip-roaring drunk and dance on some graves. After some really weird shit starts happening, they realize the stupidity of their actions, but it's too late. Three vengeful spirits are out for some beyond the grave payback, and they won't rest until everyone in their paths are just as dead as them!
Is it good movie?
On the first viewing, this movie struck me as a solid genre effort with some seriously creepy 'boo' moments courtesy of the ghostly trio (It's all about the lipless spooks, folks...damn that's scary shit!). It was all swell, but after watching it again for good measure, the swelling went down. It was still a solid flick, but it was starting to show its flaws.
First the good. The dvd opened up with previews for the After Dark Films collection 8 Films To Die For, of which this movie is a part of, and I have to say the whole package seems like a tonne of sweet horror goodness. However, in a collection that includes such awesome horror movies as The Abandoned and Penny Dreadful, it seems that there may be some weak links, which may or may not include this flick. My Judgement is reserved until I see the whole set.
All together, the movie was a finely crafted piece of boo, not too extreme but scary in the right places. The direction of Mike Mendez and gorgeous camera work by make for one hell of a good looking scary movie. The writing was passable, and the acting was decent. I'm a fan of Dominic Purcell (with the exception of Blade Trinity... his Dracula is almost as horid as Parker Posey's acting!), and model-turned-damn fine actress Josie Maran provides enough requisite hotness to keep me interested in the flick. Her role was way off-beat, and it worked. Add the incomparable Tchéky Karyo to the recipe and I'm one happy geisthound.
But it's all about the ghosts here. Some seriously wicked creature designs added to the effectiveness of the ghosts' appearances. They provided some of the finer moments of the film (the night vision scare provided by the little boy pyro ghost was excellently done!). As well, their backstories were darkly sweet and nicely shown. Quite possibly some of the creepier ghosts I've seen in recent years (read: Not as lame as Darkness Falls, but not as kickass crap-your-pants cool as Dead Birds).
On some sour notes, some of the effects were lame, like the antics of the Mary Ghost. I don't much like the kung-fu floaty shit in my horror flicks, especaiily when you can still see the occasional wire holding the actress up. As well, a big ghosty head chasing an SUV ala Jurassic Park just made me giggle, and not for the right reasons. Just when you're enjoting a movie, things like crappy CGI cop-out endings pop up and bite you on the ass. Story wise, while the script was tight and nicely paced, the plot did seem very contrived and predictable. The tale felt forced in places, as if all the parts fit snuggly together in a nice focus-grouped sort of way. But despite these flaws, I found myself entertained and jumpy at times. So all in all it was well done. Not as kick ass as I had hoped, but still fun in the end. I can't wait to see the rest of the collection.
And it may be some time before I use the night vision feature on my digital video cam... you know, just in case.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen - 1.78:1.
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround) plus subtitles in English and Spanish.
We get an amusing Audio Commentary from Mendez and Composer Joseph Bishara, a short Making Of Featurette with cast interviews, a wicked look at the design and making of the three ghosts in another Featurette, the Original Trailer made with different actors to raise money to make the film, a handful of Deleted Scenes that don't add much to the film, and a Storyboard Gallery which is a fun look at the creative process behind this original yet cliched movie. Finally, we get the Trailers for the seven other films in the series, some of which look like a great time.
The Grave dancers was a fine, original horror ride that had some minor irritating flaws, but when the credits rolled I found myself seriously creeped out and surprised by the effort that went into this low budget flick. It was obviously a labour of love on the part of Mike Mendez, which when combined with his first movie The Convent, show that the dude has the chops to make some seriously f*cked up genre work in the future. A good flick from what looks like a great collection, and props to After Dark and Lionsgate for getting these original and extreme movies out there to scare the shit out of the PG-13 crowd. Yep, I'm lovin' it!