DANCE WITH DEATH
Director: Charles Philip Moore
Year of release: 1992
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 86 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Tagline: "He's seen them dancing naked and now he'll see them dead" and "A brutal killer is on the rampage and only one woman can stop him if she's willing to...Dance with Death".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Fed up with her position on the bottom rung of the ladder in her job in a newspaper office, reporter Kelly threatens to quit unless she is given a story to work with that she can sink her teeth into. After initially calling her bluff her boss later relents and attempts to pacify Kelly. She agrees to mend fences on the condition that she be allowed to work on an unsolved murder case involving a local stripper who was found dead some months ago. This is a story that has been stirred up afresh after another stripper was killed the previous night and found in similar circumstances. Figuring that there could be leads to be found at the club where the victims worked Kelly proposes that she goes to work for them herself undercover as a stripper to see what she can dig up. Her boss who as it turns out has a bit of a seedy side readily agrees. Whilst working at the club Kelly teams up with a handsome police officer who himself is working undercover posing as a customer. The pair soon put together a list of suspects but the closer they get to the truth the more Kelly unknowingly puts herself in danger.
Good points: We have a likeable heroine and final girl in Kelly, smart, sassy determined and attractive she is certainly someone that I wanted to see succeed in her ambitions to crack the case and rise higher in her career. Choosing to go to work as a stripper you could say that this line of work goes against the more traditional pure, straight laced kind of box that we often see the final girl put into. With Kelly’s initial shyness with the dancing however coupled with her largely more elegant and classy routines and outfits compared to the other girls she never strays too far from the final girl mould. So, it pushes the boundaries a bit without overstepping the conventions too much.
Over the course of the running time there are a good number of suspects so the film serves pretty well as a whodunnit. Along with the main two suspects of Hooper and Henry we also have jealous stripper Jodie, a rejected DJ and the unscrupulous club owner Art to consider. I was actually a bit surprised at the end with who they ultimately went with for the killer so for me at least they did a good job of keeping me guessing until the big reveal.
The final quarter of the film is much more fast paced and exciting than what had gone before with a number of bodies popping up and an effective cat and mouse scene in an old warehouse between Kelly and the killer at the very end. Though certainly never boring the middle parts of the film were light on action and could have done with an extra murder to spice things up so this action packed final quarter went some way to remedy this and ended things on a high.
Bad Points: With the exception of the final confrontation and death at the end the murders are all lacklustre and tame with some being off camera and those we do see being fairly basic. The murderer doesn’t look great either. Much of the time we don’t see him but when we do the outfit just being a trench coat and balaclava combination is rudimentary. Still this is better than nothing of course so this is a complaint that barely registers a ripple. The film is on the tame side of the fence though both in terms of the deaths themselves and the blood but you could argue that it makes up for it by showing a lot bare breasts thanks to the strippers working at the club.
There was a small part that wasn’t explained and left me confused. At one point Kelly returns to the newspaper office and in doing so she discovers some printouts coming out of the printer that hint that someone she knows was questioned by the police in the past over a similar bunch of stripper murders years ago. It is never revealed though who was responsible for printing these out for her to find.
I felt it was a bit unrealistic how the Shaughnessy character was able to seemingly wonder around freely in the behind the scenes area of the Bottom’s Up club. He was challenged by one of the dancers at one point to be fair but in an establishment like this there would surely be someone on security to ensure the customers couldn’t sneak backstage to harass the girls. I guess it was the early nineties so perhaps they just weren’t as security conscious back then.
Mild spoiler: The character of the DJ just sort of fades away as things go on despite him being one of the early suspects. It would have been better I think if he’d of been given a proper death scene and exit, perhaps in the middle where the film was light on kills.
Verdict: There are several dancing themed slashers that came out in the late eighties and early nineties and as one of the more obscure ones I wasn’t expecting much from this. I was a lot more entertained than I had anticipated though and in some ways it reminded me a bit of Out of the Dark though it was possibly a bit better than that film with stronger acting. The Kelly character as our final girl and a rather tense finale and build up towards it near the end are the highlights. It needed more flair and imagination with the deaths and a more menacing boogeyman but it was better than I thought it would be. One to take a look at I’d say if you can find it. I’ll go with an eight out of ten though a low eight mind you as my new out of one hundred grading system (making its debut here) will signify.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Whitney: Stabbed several times after a struggle after she was surprised by the killer hiding in the back of her car.
2)Sunny: Stabbed on the street. Makes it to a phone booth only to be stabbed further and finished off inside.
3)Jodie: Found on her bed under a sheet covered in blood.
4)Henry: Shot dead by the police after he attacked Shaughnessy.
5)Art: Found with a knife in his back (killed off camera by Hooper).
6)Hooper: Shot multiple times in the chest by Shaughnessy.
7)Shaughnessy: Bludgeoned by 2x4 and stabbed before being set on fire to finish him off. Killed by Kelly.