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After Dark Horrorfest: The Gravedancers

Directed by Mike Mendez

Written by Brad Keene, Chris Skinner

Starring Dominic Purcell, Josie Maran, Clare Kramer, Marcus Thomas

Produced by Lawrence Elmer Furrmann Jr., Bill McCutchen

Rated R

96 minutes

****

Too graphic? Too disturbing? Too shocking for general audiences? Then you must be talking about the After Dark Horrorfest, eight movies that’ll have you wishing someone wasn’t underestimating studio audiences so deeply.

The plot is simple and yet all the more chilling for its simplicity—three old school chums mourn the passing of a friend by visiting his grave late one night. One friend finds a small postcard on his old friend’s grave, and, deciding he likes the message, repeats it and follows it. By dancing on several marked graves. This, of course, gets the occupants of said graves extremely pissed off. And the results of that pissing off will be a nightmarish trip the likes of which you’ve never seen before.

Now, the first thing you’ll notice about this sucker is the DVD menu. They went all out on this beastie and it shows—it’s an animated menu easily on par with the best I’ve seen. That’s a definite mark in its favor—at least they took they time to do that much with style.

They’ll throw plenty of freak-out moments into this sucker—in fact, they’ll be coming at the rate of, roughly on average one every four or five minutes. “Gravedancers” will not keep you longing in the old shocks and terror departments. In fact, that’s one of the great things about “Gravedancers”—they will keep things moving and they will do it in grand style.

In fact, the first half hour will be deovted almost exclusively to moments that will have you questioning your own sanity, or rather, would if they were happening to you. But even just watching it is at least a minor-league freakout. More so if you’re not used to this sort of thing.

Plus, there are some truly excellent special effects going on here. There’s a beautiful sequence involving fires that appear seemingly out of nowhere that is very, very difficult to spot the wires on—in fact, I can’t. Excellent effects work will abound, from incredibly realistic corpses to amazing fire effects.

Frankly, if this is one of the films “considered too graphic” for theatres, then I think someone needs to seriously reevaluate what’s “too graphic.” This is clearly, clearly one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a good long while. This is on par with some of the very best—not just the menu but all over. Movies like these will make it worth going to the theatre again.

If the rest of the After Dark Horrorfest titles are like this, then man oh MAN I cannot wait for the 2007 After Dark Horrorfest! This is weapons-grade horror at its unquestionably finest.

The ending is not only an excellent capper to the ninety minutes of terror, it also includes a last little surprise to round things out.

The special features include a filmmaker’s commentary track, cast and crew interviews, a making-of featurette, an original trailer, deleted scenese, storyboard gallery, and trailers for The After Dark Horrorfest, “The Hamiltons,” “Reincarnation,” “Penny Dreadful,” and “Wicked Little Things.”

All in all, “Gravedancers” is a marvelously forceful work, full of punch and scary moments that’ll make you wonder if, maybe, the films “too graphic” for theatres may not be just what the theatres need.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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