I recently watched the horror film Strange Behavior (1981) for the first time. Early in the film was a party scene that caught my attention initially because one of the characters was sporting a tuxedo-print tee shirt (I think there must have been an entire costume department dedicated to the tuxedo-print T-shirt in the 1980s). The bizarre choreographed dance party scene that followed really added a surreal touch to the film and got me thinking about moments of dancing in the horror films of 80s. I'm curious as to if any other decade had as much boogying in its horror cinema as the 80s did. Somehow, I doubt it.
After looking through my DVD collection and on YouTube for examples of dance in 80s horror films I began compiling a list. As I did this I couldn't help but compare the moments, creating a horror dance competition. I also broke the competitors into three categories, group dance (3 or more dancers), pairs and solo performance. I did include a few horror-themed comedies because the list just wouldn't have felt right without them. So, without further ado, I present Dancing With the Scars!
Runner-up: Teen Wolf (1985)
Hey, another movie featuring a tuxedo-print tee shirt! Let's see, silly dance, cheesy music complete with robot voice, popular kids scowling at the hero as he dances and at least one guy dancing with hat, red bowtie and slim sunglasses... yup it's an 80s film alright! Gnarly, Dude!
Runner-up: The Howling III: The Marsupial Werewolves (1987)
Another dancing werewolf! I'm not much on ballet, but the end of this dance number is awesome. I love the face the guy makes just before getting his head bit off. This scene would have place higher on the list had it involved roller disco instead.
Runner-up: Once Bitten (1985)
I watched this movie far more than I should have as a teen. The entire plot of the movie can be summed up in this dance scene. I wish I could dance like Jim Carrey.
Third Place: Strange Behavior (1981)
This party scene has an unsettling staged-feel before the dancing even starts. It feels as though the characters haven't entered a costume party but rather a trap disguised as a costume party. That sensation worsens once the dancing starts. It appears as though teens at the party have spent at least one prior evening choreographing an awkward dance to perform together. This clip scores extra points for the girl wearing that creepy buck-toothed Pippi Longstocking mask and the dude dressed like Hoss from Bonanza even though he doesn't dance (he just vomits in a sink).
Second Place: Near Dark (1987)
This is really just a series of dances, two solos and a pairs dance, but I couldn't separate them. The whole moment has a choreographed feel from the moment the vampires enter the bar. Their entrance is timed so perfectly with the music beginning, you'd swear Jesse made the others wait with him just outside the door until his vampire hearing picked up the sound of the jukebox about to play just the right song. Dancing-wise we have Severen's spinning chicken dance accompanied with wolf-howl, followed by a tender dance between Mae and an unlucky bastard who just can't allow himself to enjoy (I'd jump out the window if I was offered to Adrian Pasdar too, even if he wasn't a vampire), lastly the bar scene finishes with Homer's swaying little dance upon the bar as the joint burns down (sadly not featured in this clip).
Winner: Night Train to Terror (1985)
It took the transformation and combination of three other failed horror films to create this Voltron of crap. Night Train to Terror is literally sewn together from the corpses of other grody films and the stitches used to hold the pieces together are scenes of god and the devil talking interspersed with this music number being performed on a train. The same song is repeated over and over like a music video from hell, when the train finally crashes it is relief and not horror that is felt. To make it even worse, the song taunts the audience for watching the film, "Everybody's got something to do! Everybody but you!"
Third Place: Prom Night (1980)
I love 80s movies that feature gum-chewing jocks who look like they just smelled something bad. Oh, it even has the characters dancing to a song with the title of the movie in the chorus... and there's another tuxedo-print t-shirt! Totally excellent! It's amazing how this high school was able to provide their students with the set from Saturday Night Fever to dance upon in the gymnasium. That damn chorus lingers with you long after. "Prom night! Everything is alright!" DIG IT OUT OF MY BRAIN!
Second Place: Night of the Comet (1984)
Two sisters dancing around in a shopping mall in a montage set to Cyndi Lauper's Girl's Just Wanna Have Fun! Eightiesgasm! I bet this scene had George Romero slapping his head and wishing he'd condensed the entire second act of Dawn of the Dead into this montage.
Winner: Fright Night (1984)
I'm straight, but it's definitely Chris Sarandon who is making this dance scene sexy and not Amanda Bearse. He could have been seducing an aging Roddy McDowall out on that dance floor and the scene still would have been sexually charged. Hell, the vampire's seduction of Evil Ed in the alleyway isn't far off.
Runner-up: Ghoulies (1985)
Oh, it's 80s crazy sunglasses bestfriend-guy again! What a wonderful stock character he was! In this scene, he has a seizure and the crowd cheers. Nobody tries to stop him from biting his tongue off. They only show concern when all the tic-tacs fall out of his shirt pockets.
Runner-up: Cat's Eye (1985)
I need a room like this in my next house. Sure, I'd love to hear all about the vacuum/encyclopedia/religion that you are selling. Just wait in this room here and I'll be right back. Oh, never mind that grate on the floor and please take off your shoes...
Runner-up: Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning (1985)
What the hell is up with the character Violet in this film? She's some sort of New Wave goth-type and yet she is robot dancing. It is perhaps the most angsty robot dance I've ever scene. She looks so intent doing it. Unfortunately for her, Jason's temporary scab replacement does not like robot dancing.
Runner-up: Night of the Demons (1988)
This is closer to how a goth girl dances, though she's usually shaped more like the girl from the last clip. Oh, there's a guy with a mullet in this scene!
Third Place: A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
While Chris Sarandon made me a little bit gay with his dance in Fright Night, Mark Patton's dance sends me screaming back to being straight. Oh man! Dig those sunglasses though! What teen boy hasn't been caught by his mom and girlfriend dancing with a tiny baseball bat in front of his crotch? Here New Line has a horror franchise that was being embraced by metal fans and for the second film they gave us a hero dancing to some sort of Debbie Gibson clone. Bogus, Man!
Second place: Return of the Living Dead (1984)
I didn't have porn as a teen. I had this moment from Return of the Living Dead instead. To this day I have a thing for punk girls with unnatural red hair (even though Linnea Quigley was clearly wearing a fake-looking wig). Thanks to the use of a flesh-colored crotch patch to cover Linnea's nethers, anyone can convert a Barbie doll into a Trash doll and have it still be anatomically correct. Warning: Not safe for work.
Winner: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
Even though he is technically dancing with someone, Crispin Glover wins in the solo category. His dance is so totally tubular that the girl he's dancing with just disappears. His awesomeness becomes a spotlight. I think there should be an Internet campaign to get Crispin a contestant spot on Dancing with the Stars.
Thank you for reading the blog. Apparently everybody has something to do... everybody but yooooooouuuuuu!
This entry was edited on December 10, 2010, 2:02 am.
Some great movies here but don't forget my personal favorite dance scene from an 80s Horror movie Linnea Quigley's nude gravestone dance in Return of The Living Dead ! She was HOT http://80shorrormovies.blogspot.com/
Edited on: Mar 19 2011, 06:42 AM UTC