Friday, April 1, 2011

Movie Review: The Gravedancers (2006)

So I had to super-speedy watch The Gravedancers last night because it stopped becoming available instantly on Netflix on April 1st. I don't know why they suddenly make movies unavailable, but that's really annoying. Anyway. I'm glad I was pretty much forced to watch it because it turned out to be a great movie.

Dance like nobody's watching: Three college friends reunite for the funeral of a mutual friend. They head to the cemetery at night to celebrate his life, when they decide to dance around on the graves after finding a strange incantation. Soon after, all three are plagued by strange occurrences in their homes and seek help from paranormal investigators to get rid of the curse they inflicted on themselves.

This movie was actually quite a surprise. The story was much different and more interesting than usual ghost stories (which I, of course, LOVE but it's awesome to see something out of the ordinary for once) and although the special effects get a bit hokey at the end, the rest more than makes up for it.

So the story is fantastic. The graves that the three characters - Kira, Harris, and Sid - dance on turn out be the graves of three criminals, and the incantation that they read along with the dancing makes the ghost of the person buried sort of attach to each of them and haunt them for a month until they plan on killing them. Kira gets the ghost of a sexual sadist and murderer; Harris and his wife Allison get the ghost of a woman who ax murdered two people; and Sid gets the ghost of a child pyromaniac who burned down his house and killed his whole family. I love that the filmmakers took the time to come up with interesting stories for each of the ghosts - all different crimes from all different periods of time.

The only weird thing about this is that you're wondering how they all managed to be haunted by evil people until one of the paranormal experts mentions that the section of the cemetery they danced in was for the city's "undesirable" people. The tombstone of Kira's ghost just said "Good Riddance" on it (which is awesome). Do cemeteries really have designated sections for bad people? Maybe a while ago, but methinks that's probably out of practice.

I loved the casting - familiar faces but not crazy popular. Tcheky Karyo is Vincent, the main paranormal guy, and he's this fantastic Turkish actor (great accent, of course) who played the villain in Bad Boys. I'm still on the fence about Dominic Purcell but he's tolerable in this film. And Clare Kramer as Dominic's wife Allison is wonderful and a great turn from knowing her only as one of my favorite villains from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.

The movie managed to get a lot of jumps out of me and really freaked me out with the makeup on the ghosts, especially Kira's. Holy shit, that guy was bugged-out-wacky. He's in the shadows at first... this really emaciated guy wearing only white underwear. When he slowly moves into the light, his face is horribly wrinkly and decayed with huge eyes and the FUCKING CREEPIEST big smile with huge teeth that I've ever seen. Very scary but very cool at the same time. Harris and Allison's ax murdering ghost is also well done because of the way she moves. She takes over Kira's body and chases everybody through the house at the end with her ax, floating around on only her tiptoes. That kind of shit always gets me. Floating is scary, I don't care what anybody says.

The bad special effects from the end come in the form of huge ghost heads and hands that chase the survivors out of the house. It was reminiscent of stuff from The Frighteners and was a bit too over-the-top from the effects in the rest of the movie. I guess it was supposed to be the big climax but it really didn't do it for me.

The only film from the 8 Films to Die For released with The Gravedancers that I've seen was Dark Ride, which was okay but nothing stellar. If any of the other ones were as good as Gravedancers, though, I will definitely have to give them a shot. It was a great take on the traditional ghost story with a truly unique plot and some great ghostly sequences.

Sidenote: Watch for the appearance of a copy of Fangoria magazine on the paranormal guy's desk. I got a chuckle from that.


  1. The one movie I really, really liked out of the 2006 batch of Films to Die For was The Hamiltons. Wicked Little Things was pretty good as well.

  2. I really enjoyed this, though like you, felt a lot of the effects were overdone and the climax wasn't really that climatic! I loved the look of the ghosts and was quite unnerved by the ferocity of the opening scene. Not what I expected from the guy who made The Convent!

    PS I also get a chuckle from seeing issues of Fangoria in movies. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. ;)

  3. Glad you liked it!

    I've seen most of the After Dark flicks and most of them are mediocre or lame.
    Still, there are a few I can really recommend:

    The Abandoned (creepy!)
    The Tripper (fun!)
    Autopsy (fun!)
    The Broken (scary!)
    Dread (mindblowing!)
    Hidden (eerie!)

  4. this movie is just shit....wasted of times..