ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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The Gravedancers (2006)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Mike Mendez

Starring:
Clare Kramer/Allison
Dominic Purcell/Harris
Josie Maran/Kira
Tchéky Karyo/Vincent
PLOT-CRUNCH
Four despicable twats get aggressively haunted by PMS-ing spirits after a night of drunken dancing on some graves (I guess they never heard of the usual drunken past time: sex). Will the GREAT Tcheky Karyo save the motherf*cking day with one-liners? HEY! He’s Tcheky Karyo man…what do you think?
THE LOWDOWN
It’s been 6 years since Mike Mendez’s THE CONVENT tickled my horror bone with skills and now I finally got to see Mendez’s follow up to it THE GRAVEDANCERS. Saying that I was looking forward to this jamboree was an understatement. Mendez is an exciting genre director, one with mucho promise in my useless opinion! Sadly the flick didn’t polish my jock strap as much as I thought it SHOULD have.

The initial premise of The Gravedancers spelled FFT to me (Fun F*cking Times)! Peeps boogie on the graves of “twisted” dead people who come back to get even. The potential for multitude horror-gasms was there and the film did succeed in pulling a couple of them off. Most of the shock sequences were slyly executed (Think The Entity-light that progressed to The Frighteners), the potent bleak mood was deliciously harsh and the ghost/creature designs were rather chilling and off the wall (yet silly looking at times…I think that was the point). With all those goodies in tow, you would think, I’d be hooked line and hooked! But for me to get fully involved into a film’s world I have to believe in it and that’s where The Gravedancers wet-farted. I had a hard time buying into or caring as to what was going on onscreen. Why? Read on!

Throughout my sit down with this baby, I was bamboozled as to how I should I feel due to its tone being all over the place. I knew the film was intentionally funny in places, but at the same time it took itself seriously while frequently being un-intentionally comical. It got to the point where I didn’t know when I should laugh and even wondered if the film knew in the first place! The flat characters/relationships didn’t help in that matter either that’s for damn sure. We’re told that so & so loves her and that so & so loves him and that so & so still has a thing for him. We’re told…but I never saw it or felt it. There was little chemistry between the actors, the characters weren’t too likeable and they often reacted in stupid ways when taking into account their relationships. These people were friends/lovers? Wouldn’t know! Maybe it was all meant to be cynical and it went over my head…bottom line…the film’s impact was weakened by result…they didn’t give a hoot, hence neither did I.

With that spat on the sizzling sidewalk, I still derived some sweetness out of the film. Although the pace a tad clunky at first, it eventually came into its own. Then, ingenious macabre happenings, stylishly executed spirit background bits and outlandish fear set pieces/ spirit apparitions poured in to whoop that ass! The kinetic ooph that Mendez gave many of those sequences jacked up the delight factor as well! We get some great moments here! Lastly, Tcheky Karyo rocked the Kasbah until there was no Kasbah left. Thank the Lord above that he was tossed into the mix as he provided most of the laughs (for me anyways) with his gnarly dead pan demeanor. I couldn’t get enough of the dude!

All in all, I’m divided when it comes to The Gravedancers. Poor characters and schizophrenic tone…NAY! Slick visuals and bold ghostly shenanigans…YAY! You gonna cha-cha on this tomb?
GORE
We get a nice slit throat (gore highlight), offbeat (in design) spooky spirits and minor violence here and there.
ACTING
Clare Kramer (Allison) was the better thespian of the bunch, nailing her hysteric demeanor credibly, even when the script played against her. Dominic Purcell (Harris) had some charm to him but he was way too low key throughout. Come on man! Ghosts are after you and your friends are in peril….WAKE UP!

Josie Maran (Kira) did what she had to do…not much of a part. Great eye candy though. Tchéky Karyo (Vincent) owns in all that he does, here he effortlessly stole the show with his semi hamming and dead pan delivery. Loved him! Marcus Thomas (Sid) didn’t sell me on the role, a role that I didn’t care for in the first place.
T & A
None of that sweet syrup here Tonto!
DIRECTING
Mendez managed to put out creepy atmosphere, well constructed fear sequences, with some of them dipped in eye popping aesthetics at that. But what was up with the uneven editing and the occasional blundered camera moves?
SOUNDTRACK
I guess the score did a good job, as it didn’t grate me in any way…yet…it didn’t stand out either.
BOTTOM LINE
THE GRAVEDANCERS had more in common with THE FRIGHTENERS and SCOOBI DOO (Will you find Fred, Daphne, Shaggy, Velma and Scooby? I did!) than POLTERGEIST and THE OTHERS. Sporting bland characters/relationships with little sense to them and a clunky unstable tone, it was really hard to give a hoot about the folks and what they were going through!

Granted, the film sported tight moments of  horror uniqueness, Tcheky Karyo killing the scenery, interesting baddies, some comical bits and Mendez’s yummy “Raimi-esque’ visual style but as whole, it didn’t fully gel for this jerk. Will it for you? Dance on its grave and find out!
BULL'S EYE
The flick was shot in Greensboro, North Carolina.

You've seen Dominic Purcell in Blade 3 as the main villain and Josie Maran in Van Helsing as a vampire.
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