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Stacie Ponder – Bop Till You Drop Dead in These Horror-Dance Spectaculars


You know what modern horror needs more of, apart from well-rounded characters, original plots, and Tom Atkins? More dance scenes. I know, that’s probably the last thing you were thinking. But horror movies and dance routines go together like peanut butter and pickles, which is to say that the pairing makes no sense, until you experience it and then wonder how you ever lived without it. Each of the following ten movies proves that a dance number — group or solo — can make a bad movie worth watching and a great movie greater.

10. Night Train to Terror
This movie makes no sense whatsoever, perhaps because each segment is culled from hacked-up bits of feature films that never saw the light of day. But what it lacks in scares, logic, production values, and anything else associated with professional filmmaking it makes up for with singing and break dancing. See, there’s this group on a train with God and Satan, and they keep performing a music video over and over, and then the train explodes, and then it rides the rails into outer space, and then… I said it made no sense — but there’s a lot of breaking.

9. Slash Dance
Finally someone thought to combine the mighty powers of slasher movies, female wrestlers, and inept dancers in leotards. Who could have guessed that the result would be a complete train wreck? Lieutenant Tori Raines (Cindy Maranne) goes undercover in a dance troupe to solve a series of murders. But what’s more dangerous: the killer or the horrendous ensemble numbers? Maranne is best known as Americana, one of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and several of her friends make appearances.

8. Stage Fright
This slasher flick from Argento protégé Michele Soavi (Cemetery Man) has plenty of shocks wrapped up in its ridiculous plot. But, really, neither scares nor story matter in a movie that features a dance company putting on a musical about the Night Owl, a dude who wears a giant owl-head mask while killing hookers. And, yes, he does this while dancing.

7. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
As a teenager who fancied herself punk when this movie opened, I saw Violet (Tiffany Helm) as someone to emulate and idolize: she was sullen, had cool hair and makeup, and didn’t hesitate to partake in robot dancing. I didn’t, however, want a machete in the gut.

6. The Wicker Man
When a devout Christian detective investigates the disappearance of a child from an isolated pagan community, conflicting worldviews and dancing are inevitable. While the Maypole fertility song and dance are inspired, it’s Britt Ekland’s naked, wall-slapping number that steals the show.

5. Suspiria
Time to class up this list with some art: set in a German ballet school, Dario Argento’s stylish movie is enough to put me off classical-dance lessons for life. That’s not only because of all the witchcraft going on at the Freiburg tanzakademie — those ballet teachers are also mean.

4. Night of the Demons
Night of the Demons lives by the saying that a party ain’t a party until some goth chick flashes her panties, starts dancing to Bauhaus, and gets possessed by a demon.

3. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Party scenes in movies are often awkward. But in this Friday the 13th installment, the always unpredictable Crispin Glover defies expectations by busting out some hilariously twitchy moves — much to the confusion of both cast mates and viewers — that make no sense at all.

2. Return of the Living Dead
During a graveyard party with her punk-rock pals, Trash (Linnea Quigley, in her most unforgettable role) is overcome by intense emotions, while talking about horrible ways to die. Rather than sit around and dwell, she strips off her clothes and dances naked atop a crypt. Oh, don’t act like you’ve never done it.

1. Prom Night
The extended disco dance sequence that unfolds amid Prom Night‘s bloodshed is something to be beheld only in mouth-gaping awe. Scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis tears up that gymnasium floor like it’s nobody’s business, all synchronized moves and total seriousness.

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When Stacie Ponder isn’t writing about horror movies here or on her beloved blog, Final Girl, she’s making them. Always, though, she leads a glamorous life, walking along the razor’s edge of danger and intrigue.

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