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Gravedancers (2005)

Reviewed on 2006 November 18

Ever since I was a small child I had a vague idea of what the thing under my bed looked like, even though I’d never seen it. It was real, it sharpened its claws as I brushed my teeth, and no amount of reasoning from my parents dissuaded me: as soon as the light snapped out it was waiting to crawl out and eat my soft guts without mercy or anesthetic. I would pull the blankets over my head and tell myself that silky down would stop sharp fangs. Ironically this gave way to (or fed) a love of horror movies around my twelfth birthday and I watched everything I could, from Der Golem to Hellraiser. All I wanted to know was — where was my monster? The thing under my bed would own Pinhead.

I think everyone has their own concept of the monster, and when I watched the ads for the 8 Films to Die For this November, I had to smack the pause button at one point. There it was! My monster! Sitting on a freaking bed and snarling at me. Some sick puppy dug it out of my head and made a movie about it! Holy crap! Who else is as warped as me?

Apparently, Mike Mendez. He’s the director of Gravedancers and he used both atmosphere and great creatures in this work. The movie starts with a brutal, grainy, black-and-white scare that sets the mood without blood, and segues into a funeral. Allison and Harris Mitchell (Clare Kramer and Dominic Purcell) and Harris’ old flame Kira Holden (Josie Maran) are mourning their friend Dev. Things are tense enough between the women and are only aggravated when their slacker buddy Sid Vance (Marcus Thomas) misses the funeral. Sid does show up at Dev’s house later, and after Allison goes home and the three friends have an alcohol-fueled dinner, he’s sufficiently remorseful to want to go back and say goodbye to Dev properly. They creep back into the graveyard with some booze and after a few rides on the Night Train start dancing among the graves. They don’t mean this as a disrespectful act — they’re just saying a drunken goodbye to their friend and celebrating their own lives. Unfortunately the graves they dance over belong to people who were rotters in life and got only nastier on the other side. And they come to hunt the dancers down like dogs.

The acting was good and the movie is suspenseful and creepy and has a giallo feel at some points. There were a few things I saw coming but there were quite a few I didn’t, and the sound effects were nice and jarring too. I had sweaty palms at some points. Now that Mendez brought one of my demons to life and gave her a mean right hook, I’m dying to see how he tops himself.

Three chocolate morsels.

Shukti

morsel morsel morsel

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