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Dance of the Damned

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Description on the hind of the box: “The vampire stalks the dark city streets, searching for his next victim. In a run-down strip joint,  he is drawn to Jodi, a dancer whose failures and disappointments are driving her to suicide. She intrigues him with the raw sex appeal of her dance and the “little piece of death” she carries in her soul.”

At the heels of every corner awaits another stripper hybrid deprived of an audience. It shouldn’t come as a surprise when someone has never heard of Dance of the Damned. It didn’t exactly do well and the film is hardly memorable which I shall digress because I am such a huge fan of Katt Shea regardless of how well her films make out. Her stripper-thrillers Stripped to Kill and its sequel are a couple of my favorites along with Poison Ivy and The Rage: Carrie 2. By no means is this dance truly unpleasant nor mediocre. There are some redeeming qualities at bay. I like to think of it as a character study. This vampire (Cyril O’Reilly) may be fashioning a nefarious mullet that’s more hair-raising than all of his celestial powers combined (That last remark is dripping with disdain.) There’s a likeness to him as well. The acting is superb and convincing enough to make you feel for both him and our leading suicidal stripper Jodi Hurtz (Starr Andreeff.) These two characters symbolize death. One being undead and the other being metaphorically dead and on the fringes of actual death. Dance of the Damned didn’t need a wider budget to tell its story. There’s no need for glitter or fancy stage productions. When the emotions of characters such as these are to be scrutinized, gore and trendy special effects are unnecessary. In a way, it feels like an Anne Rice novel.

The only dancing we see takes place in the opening act. After we leave the strip club scene it becomes an (over dialogue) of two characters learning from one another. The mullet wearing vampire hungers for his victim’s detailed perception of daylight and how the sun feels on human flesh. His victims have the cure for his desolation for one night. The vampire faces depression every night as he hates killing. This results in him waiting till the very last minute, nearly starving, before draining a human of their blood and he only selects those who call upon death. Though on the verge of death, Jodi finds herself fighting back for her life. This is a film those struggling with suicide can benefit from. You are in so much pain and you feel there’s no way out yet you still have so much to live for. In this case, Jodi is a mother and her rights as a mother have been taken away from her – Likely because of poor life choices.

Jodi isn’t really given a choice once the vampire has chosen her. There is no turning back. There is no escape. She will share her pain with the lonesome vampire and he will take the pain away from her. The ending is open for interpretation. I will not spoil it here but I can tell you that it’s an homage to Adam reaching out to God from the Sistine Chapel ceiling. This is an image that has been used as a reference for many popular films.

For whatever reason, Dance of the Damned was remade in 1993 by Adam Friedman titled To Sleep With a Vampire. I would like to compare the two but I have yet to snag a copy of the remake. All in due time. I am told Katt Shea’s version is far more effective with skilled imagery. Dance of the Damned was co-written by Andy Ruben, Shea’s ex who often worked with her on films. Scream Queen Maria Ford has a cameo!

 

About The Author
Rebekah Herzberg
Rebekah Herzberg

VHS collector, horror fanatic, and lover of the 80’s neon night life. I once ate a Texas BBQ burger compiled with Mac and cheese and fried green beans. I celebrate Hanukkah.

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