Main cast: Jessica Lowndes (Peggy), Marilyn Norry (Kate), Jonathan Tucker (Jak), and Robert Englund (MC of The Doom Room)
Director: Tobe Hooper
How long has it been since Tobe Hooper directed anything worthwhile? I suppose he would always have The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Salem’s Lot, and Poltergeist, but it is sad when his more recent outputs are of quality akin to… well, Crocodile. What happened to the poor man?
At any rate, his entry into the Masters of Horror series is not going to halt his downhill slide anytime soon. I have watched it three times but the whole thing still feels like one garbled mess. Let me put it this way: a lot of it makes sense only after I look up the plot synopsis on Wikipedia. I suppose one may get a better picture of the whole thing by rewatching this episode another fifty times, but it’s nowhere good enough to be worth that much of anyone’s time and energy, trust me.
Set in some dystopian Earth in the near future, the human population has taken a severe battering after World War III, which saw the use of a powerful biological weapon that causes one’s skin to burn and slough off shortly upon contact. In this one, some folks try to live like everything is normal, while others decide to go all woo-hoo, form gangs, and generally behave like clichés complete with too much mascara, pierced nostrils, and ensemble that looks like it came straight out of Hot Topic. Living in the nice town is Peggy, nearly 17 and chaffing under the strict rules and orders from her controlling mother Kate. Things come to a head when Peggy strikes up a relationship with the bad boy from the bad part of town, Jak, much to Kate’s displeasure, and is introduced to the main entertainment of the folks in the bad side of town: the Dance of the Dead.
Basically, they get someone who is overdosed on drugs, and keep that person in the freezer until showtime, during which the person’s heart is pumped full of stimulants that cause that poor thing to twitch and convulse. Some guys on stage would then whack that poor sod with prods to cause that fellow to put on a “dance”. Personally I think the whole thing gets boring after ten seconds, but I suppose when you’re trapped in a bad TV episode, you will need all the entertainment you can get. Back to Peggy, she recognizes that the dancer she is witnessing is her MIA sister. What is going on?
Well, Dance of the Dead is basically a series of coincidental discoveries that result when the characters meander aimlessly from one point to another in what seems like a puerile tribute band’s performance of Edward and Bella. The show attempts to introduce too many things in too short a time, so the end result is a clipped, incoherent sequence of what looks like a super budget version of a Mad Max wannabe. The two leads try hard to convince me that their characters are the true zombies, as they are so emotionless and bland, my goodness. I suppose the episode wants to show me that Peggy is somehow changed by her experience, or maybe she becomes disillusioned by the things she learns during the course of her adventure with Jak, but the whole thing is such a messy, confusing effort that only has minimal resemblance to a coherent TV show.
At any rate, I’m still waiting for Tobe Hooper to gain his mojo back.