Monday, April 29, 2013

Dance of the Damned


Jodi (Starr Andreeff), a stripper in a trashy club in the city, is selected by an ancient vampire (Cyril O'Reilly) to be the next feeding victim, but she won't just go quietly and allow him to feast without providing plenty of reasons why he shouldn't.
****


I look at Dance of the Damned as tale of who will survive by dawn. She may seem like she's ready to end her miserable existence, but when it comes right down to it, life still seems more "appetizing" (such a pun I couldn't resist) than death. Certainly when your option is feeding a vampire. He actually, at one point, says he could feed from her (as he has in the past) like in times past from humans like cattle. She will attempt, throughout their hours together, before the dawn, to escape this countdown to her end.







What I appreciate more than anything else is that Dance of the Damned is not the typical conventional vampire film. No doubt, it is an absolute showcase for the severely undervalued Starr Andreef who deserved to be a star in the horror genre, but for whatever reason, it never happened for her. All horror fans like me can do is use our blogs and sites to call attention to her when able. Some might eventually pass by and read, get inquisitive, and find a copy of an obscure 80s vampire film somewhere, if available, and see what all the fuss is about. I didn’t even know about this movie, or Starr, until a female horror fan who frequents the imdb horror board (and a vocal couple others who watched it after her endorsement and praise from the mountaintops in its favor) called my attention to it. I was more than appreciative because I think she gives one hell of a performance in Katt Shea’s Dance of the Damned as a stripper awaiting a possible death at the bite of a vampire.








Like any vampire, Cyril O’Reilly broods and skulks (and seeks fulfillment in places that do not ever provide it), looking for the next victim. I like that he’s indifferent and complex. But, of course, he’s a long-haired hunk which allows him to get close to the ladies so he can bury his teeth into them. He has the home with art and items from a life that produces dividends when you have been alive for 100+ years. Is he satisfied with all the money and clothes and luxuries such a life a vampire can provide? Seeking answers from someone who has been able to move about during the day, have experiences perhaps alien to him, Starr isn’t too fond to share such details knowing that death is looming for her. She tries to escape, using a gun given to her from a stripper colleague at the club to shoot him (it does temporarily incapacitate him), but the doors are locked and the key is out of her reach. Plus he’s faster and stronger than her. He lifts her from her feet by the throat, holding Starr for a little spell, and then releases knowing she understands he’s in control. All she can do is figure out some kind of escape strategy if available (or presents itself).









This is quite a part for Starr to sink her teeth into. Such a character with a lot of mileage, quite a bit of emotional baggage, and it is a part that affords Starr a great opportunity to carry a film (well, opposite O’Reilly; consider it basically a two-actor play of sorts) in performance. The character deals with the inability to see her child. Having to strip, pose, and dance for a bar of leering observers who leave just enough tips to pay the electric bill, and buy a bit of booze. No career options other than the current seem to be in her grasp. Here’s this beefcake, with a wad of cash, just wants to spend some time with her…to talk. Too good to be true? Probably because it is.













He selects those “with no hope”, who “have given up”, and in order for him to survive, Starr is to be on his menu. All Starr wants to do is hear her son’s voice and talk with him, and the father will have none of it. Perhaps the father just wants to torture her, or use the kid to get back at her. Whatever the case, one slip up (she takes the boy and is denied any privileges to see him; the father’s family is well off and have connections) and she’s unable to see, touch, or talk with him. It is a cruelty, but this is maybe the true reason she wants to end her life (she can’t seem to do it because she’s a conflicted character who hates but still clings to life).















I think Starr has a pitiable quality to her character, considering her plight. She is hardened. She’s been dismissed from the joys of life, and all that contemplation of ending it all stems from the way life has taken a giant shit on her. Here comes this undead guy wanting to know about the sun and its rays. The rain is important to him (she tells him it rains at night), and the conversation goes in all sorts of directions, with their own personal crisis turning up eventually (he lost his mother in a barn fire, burning alive while covering him for protection; she, of course, has the son she isn’t allowed to have a relationship with). Starr has a primal scream moment when she turns over a table, and lights up a cigarette even though the smoke irritates him (again, his mother’s death must always return with just the lighter flickering a flame). A barbie doll reminds her of her childhood (again, not exactly a warm memory), and O’Reilly grabs her hand as the memory produces a tension between them.










There’s even an affectionate moment where O’Reilly offers a hug that Starr accepts, but this is temporary. There’s just too much angst, too much anxiety, and too much desperation. When faced with only a few hours for one of them to live, it is hard for the two to truly find an affection that is lasting.









In the film, Starr admits she was raped when she was a teenager, mutilated his genitals, and was sent to the funny farm. She then proceeds (using a camcorder) to ask personal questions he doesn’t like: are you a virgin and is there a Mrs. Vampire? He strikes the camera and this sudden reaction cuts her. So Starr flees to the bathroom, but it all is rectified when he offers to take her to see her son. Through his power, they can slide up the house, through the window into the bedroom, and Starr has that gratifying moment she so longed for. It was a nice gesture, but the problem is she’s still to be his feast. She does feel she owes him so a trip to the beach is in order. She goes through what it might be like on the beach (a really fab moment for Starr), describing details pertinent to a sunny day, the crowd, sand, etc. It is soon interrupted by a patrol cop. She doesn’t want to die. Starr acknowledges she wasn’t capable (or ready) to raise a son, perhaps in a moment of reflection and honesty with herself. It is when one realizes he/she might not see another day the value of the day.



















“Tell me about the daylight…how the sun feels on your skin.”
“How would I know? I work nights.”

We’re both the same. We live off the energy of other people and cannot change who we are.

Starr Andreef has a sad beauty (I think cherubic and sexy can be hard to pull off, but Starr is both) that is captured as it should be by Katt Shea. It was just the right time and with the right actress, I guess. If she is not so well known, I wish this movie could produce enough of a vocal reception that brings her performance to the attention of horror fans (into more obscure 80s vampire films not so well known) who could find an interest in it. O’Reilly, to me, keeps enough of a resolve to his performance, even though outbursts of anger and frustration do surface, but a lot of this anguish and aching is present (but barely, there’s a containment that tries to keep caged how he truly feels) but not overbearingly so. His eyes in blue and that soap opera handsomeness don’t mask a world weariness that has kept him from truly enjoying what life has to offer. I felt he never had intimacy (the kind that matters) or that embrace of a woman that truly had feeling, merit, richness, and depth. He has all of these with Starr, and she cannot help herself at the end after performing one last energetic striptease for him (the kind that had something behind it, the movement and performance weren’t “going through the motions”, as so often was the case with all the other onlookers lounging at the club). The two finally brush aside the walls that kept them from embarking on sexual passion. Maybe it wasn’t as much passion, though, as much as a need to be held and felt, touched and loved. With all that disappointment and discontent, this chance meeting could exactly have been what the two needed.

Regarding him killing another, he picks victims based on their position, outlook, and emotional state in life. He can provide them a way out and be fulfilled with their blood, their lifeforce, at the same time. He probably didn’t consider he’d fall hard for Starr and have trouble killing her. Starr has this look of sorrow, as if it couldn’t get worse, yet when told she was chosen to die, this discouragement against the potential inevitability of her demise foils O’Reilly’s expectations. That she would fight him in the end shouldn’t be of a surprise considering Starr never fails to mention she doesn’t want to die. At least he finally gets to see the sun he so yearned for. 

I have a lot of pics of Starr in this review (as you can tell), and I got carried away, I must admit. This is just that moment I can use my blog to highlight a real pleasure, and Starr was it in this movie's case for me. So much left on the screen from her; what a beauty and vulnerability. The willingness to bare her soul--this often used when we talk about actresses in performances that require so much from them if the talent is there--is evident throughout. I loved this performance and the film deserves a better reputation, I think.


linnea

linnea

Nlc

Nlc
Old Skool Nostalgia

Amer

Amer
Taste of metal
"There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it."
--Alfred Hitchcock

Sus

Sus

The h gang

The h gang

Hp

Hp

Bs

Bs

Smoke

Smoke
Got a smoke?

h1

h1
Look behind you!

Strek

Strek
Live long and prosper

Sbut

Sbut
Snip. Snip

Ahs

Ahs

Edc

Edc
Blog's Dead all Over

Hill

Hill
"Do not enter the city...It belongs to the dead now."

Edfen

Edfen

SRW

"This seems to be the place where the plot begins to thicken..."
--Spooks Run Wild (1941)

Castle

Castle

Frere and dummy

Frere and dummy

WZ

WZ

Mlove

Mlove

The Scarecrow Blogspot

Horror
Cult
Erotica &
Pro Wrestling Entertainment

Yep, the Prolific Madness of a Headcase Blog
"... perhaps we invent artificial terrors to cope with the real ones."

--host, Donald Pleasence, Terror in the Aisles (1984)

Alone/dark

"There are no crazy people, doctor. We're all just on vacation."

--Alone in the Dark (1982)

Translate

Lips

Lips

Care to Read Further?

When you see posts with this question, you can click on it to further read the review or blog post. I include this so that I can include more posts on one page and take up less space.

wb

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

Fhz

Fhz

Search This Blog

Ph

Ph

The Boogens - Intro

While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing ...