The series title Masters of Horror, of under-one-hour horror movies, begs from the start that the relative "mastery" of the select directors be compared, both to each other & to the reality of their produce. Some, like series overseer Mick Garis, are "masters" by no measure. Others are "masters" without question, & I'd include Tobe Hooper whose long career within the genre has produced more than a few great films amidst some total dogs.
But of masterful mini-films, they are few & far between in this ongoing project. Tobe's "masters" entry Dance of the Dead (2005) is unfortunately low-end for a low-end series, so the relative mastery of each director is no guarantee of quality.
The first ten minutes of this film is so muddled & so ineptly edited that nothing makes sense until finally we hear a radio program that provides an "expository lump" awkwardly informing us what the fuck is going on.
This run-down world is no worse seeming than any failing business district or pornshop row & hooker street circa 1980. But we're to believe it is a post-apocalyptic world, showing us all that remains after the terrorist war, World War III, during which the chemical weapon called Blizz because it was delivered in CGI blizzards of fallout.
Blizz killed a huge percentage of the population, rendered many more deformed, while a few have developed what may be a limited immunity & appear normal (the script is never quite certain of any of this however).
This supposed after-the-holocaust future amounts to a world of fast cars, motorcycles, & juvenile delinquents. No one looks hungry; there's no gas shortage; electricity works. As post-apocalypses go, this one was singularly non-apocolkyptic.
Our main characters are youths, Jak (Jonathan Tucker) who makes a big deal of how cool he spells his name & is a little less delinquent than most & so successfully seduces one of the last remaining "good" girls, Peggy (Jessica Lowndes), who has lived a sheltered life under the thumb of a monumentally awful mother. So of course Peggy takes the first opportunity to find out what the world's real teenager's are doing, which is crimes, drugs, & party-party.
A local club called the Doom Room is run by Robert Englund whose only character name is "MC" as he's the emcee of the club. It's kind of a disco place (for the crummy music & flashing lights) but with punk rockers showing up, as if punks would ever listen to that canned shit.
It's nice to know that if you lived through the 1970s, you already know what the apocalypse looked like.
The disco is mixed with a burlesque show of re-animated women. These girls are a type of zombie brought to twitchy life with a concoction derived from older citizens who survived WWIII unaffected by Blizz.
Again the script is unsure of itself, but it appears that the older citizens are the only ones who have antibodies in their blood that when purified & injected into the living dead makes them dance but only if you poke them with lots of cattle prods.
The story never says if there's a reason only girls turn into this kind of zombie. It appears that the only reason is because the guys who made this film, from top to bottom, get their kicks with torture-women fantasies. As there's really nothing else happening of interest.
The so-called "masters" series has many flaws that follow through the majority of the films no matter who directs them -- clumsy editing & inconsequentiality of the storylines being foremost.
There is also this tendency to supplant imagination with mere sadism & violence. So even if you share the misogyny & can masturbate to such imature fantasies as using cattle prods on zombie babes, after you cum it will just be tiresome having it delivered time & time again without a good story to go with it.
The acting is uneven, though the main cast does so-so, except for Robert Englund who can really only play Freddy Krueger well, & is otherwise a ferociously bad actor. However, he has one strictly visual scene which required no acting, in which he is having a little private orgie with zombie babes, which is a stand-out scene for this largely-a-turd film.
The best performance is delivered by Marilyn Norry as the skanky mother. Her edgy performance was the only thing that made it possible to sit through the whole film, as from the moment she got a little knife & went out into the night to hunt down her daughter, you just had to wonder what in hell she thought she could accomplish with a little knife. And as it turns out she can't accomplish anything.
It's sad to say this is par for the course for the series. If you find you like it you'll like all the Masters of Horror films. If you want something better, you'll rarely get it. In all, this one's nothing Tobe Hooper can be proud of, but if he only wanted to deliver a product no worse than the bulk of his peers bothered to provide on time & under budget, then I guess he doesn't need to feel ashamed either.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl