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Dance of the Damned

Antithetical to the usual Roger Corman productions, emo vampire flicks like “Dance of the Damned” don’t seem to be his strongest output.

Dance of the Damned

A vampire lures a stripper to his house for a meal and picks her brain about the human race. Let’s dig into 1989’s DANCE OF THE DAMNED, directed by Katt Shea!

As I See It

The music in the opening reminded me of the nineties TV series Silk Stalkings, which always followed Monday Night Raw.

That vibe continued with a vampire stalking a suicidal stripper. He needed a meal, and he’s also a very curious critter.

I can’t think of any vampire films that present the blood sucker as something other than a converted human. Here, we’ve got some other species that — through “evolutionary camouflage” — has made itself look human to hide. That evolution must have found icy blue eyes to be the most alluring as well, as they’re the only real indication of his vampiric ways.

I did get a laugh out of a vampire riding public transportation, but the acting, dialogue, and pacing are rough. As soon as he has his victim home, he lets it out right away that he’s not human. There is no build-up, no tension, and no scary reveal.

It seems they thought some real philosophical points were being dropped on the audience with a diatribe on the gifts men give women (flowers, Christmas trees, and butterfly collections – “Some guy wants to go to bed with you he brings you dead things”).

The vampire is curious about the human race and that big star in the sky that he doesn’t get the pleasure of enjoying.

After a night of falling for each other in spite of the promised murder, they head back to the club for one last dance and then have passionate sex to some smooth sax. In the end he gets what he wants and it’s not her blood, he gets to see the sun as we freeze frame on their hands reaching for each other.

Famous Faces

Cyril O’Reilly (the Vamp) had bit parts in some great old comedies: Airplane! and the overtly horny teen comedy Porky’s and its subsequent sequel.

Maria Ford (Teacher), who is also in the accompanying Dance with Death, was in the Poe adaptation Masque of the Red Death, Slumber Party Massacre III, and a couple of Lovecraft adaptations: The Unnamable II and Necronomicon – Book of the Dead.

Of Gratuitous Nature

No eighties vamp flick would be complete without a sensual, exotic dancer scene. I can’t think of many movies that bridge into the climax with a climax before pitting the two people involved against each other for a final battle.

Heartthrob

The whole film is dark, and the dialogue is dreadful, but the vibe is eighties vogue through and through. It does give a nostalgic feeling that lights a warmth in my belly.

Ripe for a Remake

The more I think about it, the more I like the premise. It could stand some heavy hitters in front of the camera and a hand behind it that is in tune with emotion. At its heart, it should be exploring what humanity is or should be and using the vamp angle to spice it up and keep you interested.

Katt Shea has expressed her interest in remaking the film with an improved script.

Spawns

Corman remade Dance of the Damned in 1992 as To Sleep with a Vampire. I’ll stick with my gut and say there is no point in remaking a film if you can’t do it bigger or better.

Where to Watch

Dance of the Damned was released early in 2023 by Shout Factory as a double feature with Dance with Death. It’s also streaming on Tubi, Plex, Shout TV, and Amazon’s Freevee.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 1.5


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