Reviews & Columns
International DVDs
In Theaters
Reviews by Studio
Video Games

Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Anime Talk
DVD Savant
Horror DVDs
The M.O.D. Squad
Art House
HD Talk
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum

DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info


Masters of Horror: Dance of the Dead

Starz / Anchor Bay // Unrated // September 12, 2006
List Price: $16.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted September 16, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

Fan reaction to Showtime's Masters Of Horror series has been mixed so far in the series' history but more often then not, when discussing the worst entries, Dance Of The Dead is the one that is mentioned. Tobe Hooper can't seem to catch a break sometimes, and while the man has made his fair share of turkeys, this reviewer doesn't count his hour-long adaptation of Richard Matheson's short story of the same name as one of them. That's not to say there aren't a few problems with the project, but it's far from the worst thing out there and miles above series creator Mick Garris' Chocolate.

The movie follows a pretty young woman named Peggy (Jessica Lowndes), a seventeen year old who has spent all of her life working with her mother at the family dinner in a small town somewhere in the mid-west. This sounds like a wholesome life, one of ease and relaxation but mom's the over protective type. She's been this way ever since her other daughter was killed after World War III broke out and Peggy's really all she's got left.

When a no-good punk named Jak (played by Jonathon Tucker) shows up at the dinner with a few friends, he and Peggy take an instant liking to one another and before you can say boo they've whisked her away to what's left of the big city where Peggy gets a taste of what life is like outside of her sheltered world. The kids end up at a club called the Doom Room where a strange MC (played by Robert Englund of A Nightmare On Elm Street fame) introduces various acts for the audience of mohawk clad bi-sexual fetish freaks in attendance.

When Peggy's mom finds out that her little girl has taken off and gone where she always warned her not to go, she grabs a hunting knife and takes off after her in the family car. There's something there that she doesn't want Peggy to find out, something that ties into their past that neither one of them has ever really gotten over – and in mom's case it's for a very good reason that she hasn't.

The biggest flaw with this entry is the camera work and the editing. Hooper admits to cutting things really, really fast for this project and there are scenes here that would give Russ Meyer an aneurism if he were still around. While it seems that the intended effect was to bring us into the chaos of the events portrayed in the film, it doesn't work and instead it seems more like a pointless exercise in hyper-style over substance. Thankfully the substance doesn't get completely buried in the pointless over the top visuals, even if you have to look a little harder than you probably should have to in order to get to it. The story at the heart of the movie is an interesting one, and in Peggy we have a character that a lot of us can relate to, particularly those of us who had over protective parents, grew up in a smaller town, or both. Her attraction to Jak (and no that's not a typo, he states in the movie that he spells with without a 'C') is understandable as he represents everything she's not and in him she sees freedom and a chance to experience things on her own – something that most seventeen year olds deal with in every day life.

The twist that comes towards the end of the film is handled well and comes as a fairly genuine surprise. There are hints there that allude to it but the mystery remains a mystery until Hooper wisely decides to unveil the truth behind Peggy and her mother at just the right moment. The scene carries a fair bit of impact and it works quite well, as does the little wrap up at the end of the movie where things are, as Peggy herself says, 'set right.'



The 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer presents the movie in its original aspect ratio and for the most part, the image looks very good and the picture is quite sharp throughout. There is some edge enhancement present in a few scenes as well as some shimmering and aliasing in spots but there's very little to complain about otherwise. Black levels are strong and deep, there are no issues at all with print damage, dirt or debris on the picture and there's a very pleasing level of both foreground and background detail present throughout the picture. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and the reds, particularly those used in the gore scenes, are well defined without bleeding through.


Anchor Bay presents Dance Of Death in your choice of a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track or a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track. Both mixes sound very good with plenty of lower end bass response and some very nice instances of channel separation throughout – particularly during the night club scenes. Dialogue is clean and clear and free of any hiss or distortion. There were a few spots on the 5.1 mix that could have been a little more aggressive in the rear channels but otherwise things sound really good here especially during the last few minutes of the production. There are no alternate language tracks or subtitle options .


The extras start off with two commentary tracks, one a piece from director Tobe Hooper and writer Richard Christian Matheson. Both tracks are worth sampling if not dedicating the time to go through them all the way. Hooper covers things from am more technical side while Matheson covers some of the themes and ideas that are in the story itself.

Up next is a great interview with Tobe Hooper that Anchor Bay has titled Primal Screams. Hooper comes across as a genuinely likeable guy in this piece and while there are definitely some serious flops in his filmography you get the sense that at least as far as this project was concerned that the man really does care about what he's doing. He speaks as to how he got involved with the series and what he liked about Matheson's story in addition to some casting decisions and the like. Richard Christian Matheson is also interviewed in an interesting segment entitled The Written Word. Here Matheson talks about some of his theories on writing, his father's work and what it was like adapting it for this project, and what he tries to get across in addition to how he feels about the adaptation of this short story.

As with previous Masters Of Horror DVD releases this disc also includes a Working With A Master featurette where many of Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre alumni join various participants from Dance Of The Dead to wax nostalgic about working with Tobe Hooper on various projects. It's fun to see Bill Mosely, Gunnar Hanson show up here alongside the expected MOH participants and we get a pretty good look at Hooper's life and times here (without going into a whole lot of detail over the whole Poltergeist debacle).

Cast interviews are also included and Robert Englund, Jessica Lowndes and Jonathon Tucker each get their own segments here. These interviews explain how the performers feel about the project, what attracted them to it, and what it was like working with one another and with Hooper and Matheson.

Anchor Bay has also included a Behind The Scenes: The Making Of Dance Of The Dead featurette that gives us a peek at the production while it was still being made. Rounding out the extra features on this release are trailers for the first batch of Masters Of Horror episodes, a still gallery, a Tobe Hooper text biography, in DVD-Rom format, the original screenplay and a screensaver. An odd looking trading card featuring an illustrated picture of Tobe Hooper's head is also included as is an insert with the chapter listing on it.

Final Thoughts:

A lot of people really disliked Tobe Hooper's entry in the series but Dance Of The Dead, while far from a classic and not on par with the best that the series has had to offer so far, really isn't that bad. There are some great ideas here and while the overkill with the camera work hurts things a bit, the pay off makes this one worthwhile. While it doesn't have a ton of replay value Anchor Bay has done a great job on the disc and this one is worth having for the extra features alone. Recommended for fans of the series, a solid rental for the masses.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

Buy from






Rent It

E - M A I L
this review to a friend
Popular Reviews
1. Batman: Year One 4K
2. Gomorrah: The Series Season 1

Sponsored Links
Sponsored Links