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June 8, 2010

Random Horror Throwdown - Dance of the Dead vs. The Ruins

Last week's RHT featured two movies made 50 years apart. This time, the randomly appearing films were released....well, zero years apart, in 2008. Randomness, like Bono and those other people in that one band, moves in mysterious ways. Let's get to the tale of the tape.


The Movies:

Dance of the Dead (2008, Dir. by Gregg Bishop.) (Hey, you can watch the flick for free right about HERE.)
Starring: Jared Kusnitz, Greyson Chadwick, Chandler Darby, Carissa Capobianco.
IMDB Synopsis: On the night of the big High-School Prom, the dead rise to eat the living, and the only people who can stop them are the losers who couldn't get dates to the dance. (Note from The Mike: Losers who can't get dates to the dance? I resemble that statement!)

The Ruins (2008, Dir. by Carter Smith.)
Starring: Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, Laura Ramsey, Shawn Ashmore.
IMDB Synopsis: A group of friends whose leisurely Mexican holiday takes a turn for the worse when they, along with a fellow tourist embark on a remote archaeological dig in the jungle, where something evil lives among the ruins. (Note from The Mike: The movie apparently IS a group of friends. I did not know that.)

My Experience With The Films:
Both films have been around me for a couple of years at the longest, obviously, so there's no deep childhood happy that can sway this category one way or the other. Dance of the Dead was a film that exceeded meager adaptations for me, while The Ruins was a film I wrote off as another piece of Hollywood drivel...before finding it and ending up impressed with the results. I've seen each flick only a couple of times, but Dance is one I've shown to friends as a time passer, and it was also the second movie I ever covered on this site (back when it was BORING). So I guess I'll give it a point. (1-0, Dance of the Dead leads.)

The Casts:
The Ruins is one of the most well acted horror films starring young actors in recent memory. Jonathan Tucker (who also starred in Tobe Hooper's Masters of Horror episode ALSO titled Dance of the Dead, which is based on a great Richard Matheson story but sucks hard) is adequate as always, and Jena Malone and Laura Ramsey (who's really hot) do well as the damsels in distress. The film relies on its cast to sell its weird plot, and they work it well.

Dance of the Dead is on the opposite end of the spectrum, with a no-name cast who are second to the zombies in the film's pecking order. However, there is Greyson Chadwick, who's pretty much the cutest thing ever. She's so cute, she'd melt a Blob. And that's not even possible. But cuteness can't conquer all, and The Ruins wins a point based on the actors' ability to carry a silly plot with straight faces. (1-1.)

The Directors:
I know literally nothing about Dance of the Dead's Gregg Bishop or The Ruins' Carter Smith. Both have few credits to their name, and no other well-known films. But I really dug The Ruins (hehehe...archeology so funny!) in regard to how it was put together, and Dance of the Dead comes off as just another indie zombie movie. It's more competent than most, but I'm gonna give Smith and The Ruins the point again. His film's a little more impressive visually and put together in a unique manner. (2-1, The Ruins leads.)

Have I Mentioned How Incredibly Cute Greyson Chadwick Is?:
Yes, I have, but it needs reiteration. She's so cute, she makes other cute things look like the infested victims in The Ruins by comparison. She's so cute that I follow her on Twitter, even though I've never met her or typed at her. (Seriously, last I knew she was "depooping her shrimp".) She's so cute that, despite the fact The Ruins features Jena Malone who I used to have a cutecrush on and Laura Ramsey (who's really hot), I need to give Dance of the Dead another point JUST BECAUSE SHE'S SO CUTE. (2-2.)

The Plots:
Have I told you lately how sick I am of zombies? I mean, I love zombies. Not like lust love (I've seen some of those zombie pin-up pics before and they're just kinda gross), but like I want them to do their best and will gladly follow them into the mists of Avalon on a majestic steed love. Yet I'm sick of them. Zombies are freakin' everywhere lately, and I'm the kind of guy who will start to dislike something that's cool just because everyone else says it's cool. I know, it's silly.

The Ruins has a unique setting, a villainous force who's kinda Blobby, and the force that's attacking our protagonists inspired a ton of thought in me. As much as I want zombies to reign supreme, especially when they like '80s music, I can't support them right now. So I'm giving The Ruins the final point. (3-2, The Ruins leads.) This Choice Is Like:
I've got a wicked stomach ache right now. Had a lunch meeting at work today, and ordered a random roast beef and white cheddar sandwich from an arbitrary menu. Nobody told me there were peppers on the sandwich. But there they were, and I've got a weak stomach, and they've been killing me from the inside ever since. On the flipside, I love cheeseburgers. I really want a cheeseburger right now. But my stomach's so wicked sore because of those tiny little peppers that there's no way I can support that cheeseburger. The peppers had that much of an impact on me, even if in the long run I love cheeseburgers and am kinda repulsed by peppers.

As the point totals say, The Ruins = peppers and Dance of the Dead = cheeseburgers. If it were a mega-awesome cheeseburger, with a blend of cheeses and some other tastinesses like a milkshake on the side that wouldn't bollocks up my stomach, maybe I'd give it the edge. In this case it aint, so I have to let the physical effect of The Ruins win me over and think of better cheeseburgers that I'll encounter in other situations.


Emily said...

This was a tough battle! The Ruins would have won for me too, although I enjoyed Dance of the Dead a lot. I also viewed The Ruins already having really low expectations for it, but I was really surprised at how enjoyable it was! The cast was good, even though I wanted to punch Jena Malone's character for most of the movie, the setting was super-cool (I've always had a fascination with ancient ruins), the parasitic plants- YIKES, and some of the scenes in this movie (the rock vs. leg scene in particular) were really gruesomely shocking, and very memorable. While I enjoyed Dance of the Dead it was just a little more generic, and thus more forgettable.

Emily said...

P.S. I have added you as a friend on Flickchart if you'd like to add me :)

R.D. Penning said...

You know I how much I LOVE zombies, but I would still pick The Ruins as well. The film was so much fun, and fairly original(even though it is based on a book, a really really good book). Good fight sir.

I want to see you pit The Blob vs Halloween! I know your head would probably explode, haha.

Unknown said...

"The Ruins," the film was one of the few flicks that was better than the book. The characters in the book were so petty and pathetic, you needed them to get overtaken and eaten. The plants read a shade creepier though, a bit more sentient in their parroting of their prey.

Anonymous said...

You got to be kidding me! Dance of the Dead wins this competition hands down!

Here's the main reason: you love the characters in Dance of the Dead & don't want them to die. The opposite is true for The Ruins. :)

One thing to note: you are comparing a $10 million budget Hollywood movie with an independent movie that had the equivalent of The Ruins' coffee budget.

The funny thing is, Dance of the Dead is the better movie with rewatchability. (I've watched it 3times in a row the first time I saw it) lol

The Mike said...

Thanks for reading, Anonymous sir or madam! I definitely like Dance a bit, and agree that the budgets are a big factor in the differences I pointed out. I don't mean to be that guy who holds the indie's budget against it, but I kinda did.

As far as the characters, I didn't really relate to or care about either film's characters too much. I did think they could have done a better job of making the characters who were supposed to be "outcasts" seem a little less like people in a GAP commercial.

I really could go either way on this matchup most days, but my pepper stomach the other night pushed me toward The Ruins. For now I stand by that.

Again, thanks for reading!

I Like Horror Movies said...

Dance of the Dead was waaay overrated as far as I was concerned, whereas I thought The Ruins was entirely underrated, so I am 100% for The Ruins!