REVIEW: The Dead Can’t Dance

It’s hard to come by good indie zombie films that aren’t 100% comedic. Ironically, when I first saw the cover for The Dead Can’t Dance, I thought it was a comedy. It turns out, that it’s more drama than comedy or horror. The story follows three Native American men who find out that they are immune to a virus that renders most people zombies. After realizing that they may be the only survivors, they seek refuge in an abandoned school where they begin to bond and hopefully understand each other better. It sounds a little tacky when I phrase it that way, but it’s worth a watch. It’s certainly not the worst movie that I saw but I ended up liking it for the most part. I think it’s because I felt more for the characters and having likable characters is the key to making a good zombie movie.

The story is actually pretty unique in the sense that it revolves around Native Americans and that being Native American is actually the only way to survive the epidemic. I’m not going to spoil anything but when you find out what the root cause of the epidemic is, you’ll realize why Native Americans are immune to the bug. Otherwise, the story seems very basic because it’s all about the survivors trying to bond and cope with the outbreak. It’s sort of like Day of the Dead in that regard. The characters are Dax, Ray and Eddie Whitehorse and as I already stated, it’s the characters that really drive this movie. If it wasn’t for them, the movie may have been really boring or it would have just been another zombie comedy.

Dax is the brother of Ray and Ray is the father of Eddie. To watch these two characters bicker back and forth throughout the entire movie was probably the films strongest points. Dax is very serious and tries to act strong in the shadow of despair, whereas his brother seems like a horn-dog and just does what he wants despite having a son. The film’s central theme seems to be the relationship that Ray has with his son Eddie and how he really isn’t the best father he could be. It’s sort of sad because Eddie, through the entire movie, seems to be the innocent bystander that gets roped into everything. You can tell he really loves his father but looks up to his uncle more because he’s the only one who actually cares for him. This character study is what drives the movie and makes it seem like a drama more than a horror.

As far as the zombies go, they are very typical. They remind me of the zombies from the old black and white films of the 40’s so… pre-Romero. The only difference is, they are in color. They are typical slow moving zombies but one zombie in particular, suitably named Stupid, is different from the rest of his flesh-eating hoard. He just wants to listen to music whether it’s from the radio or from a cell phone; his goal is to just wonder around while listing to his tunes. I like this take on zombies because, again, it reminds me of Day of the Dead in the sense that zombies could actually have… brains.

Funnily enough, there is a lot of great humor mainly coming form how Ray acts. One line in particular typifies Ray’s character, “Look at that hoochie! Kinda hot. You know, if she wasn’t the walking dead and all.” These quirks and sporadic humorous lines douses out the main focus of the story, making the zombies seem like they aren’t crucial to the story. Also, another brief aspect of humor comes from the radio host who keeps people updated. The way he has to read redundant lines and his commentary on the subject made me laugh every time he was on screen. A quote of choice, “All Natives should head to the shelters where aid is set up to aid those in need of shelter.” It’s brilliant writing. The only downside to this movie is that the dialogue can get pretty hammy and the performances lacked. I think I would love to see this movie get made into a serious film because it certainly has a lot of potential.

All in all, it’s definitely not a horrible film but rather a pretty decent zombie flick. I’m sure some Native Americans might find it a little racist, especially when they mention Natives being alcoholics. However, I had a fun time with it and I encourage any zombie fan to check it out some time. It’s a great movie to watch to pass the time along and it definitely has its moments.

Official website.

About Rick Romanowski

Undead reviewer and owner of Paradise of Horror!