FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Feb 2, 2015

VHS Week Day 1: SHADOW DANCING (1988)

If there's one thing my mother has told me time and time again throughout my long life, it's "Stacie, don't be so damn easy." Maybe someday I'll take this advice to heart, but how many times must I be burned before that happens? How many times will I take home a movie like Shadow Dancing, thinking we will have the greatest night ever...only to find myself waking the next day saddled with bitter memories and a videocassette taking up space on my shelf? How many times?

Heavy sigh. I suppose I should simply accept that waking up with herpes a bad movie is what you get sometimes when you live life on the edge. But then...would it hurt for my tastes to be a bit more discriminating? Heavier sigh. I just don't know. I mean, you want to know why I brought Shadow Dancing home? Here's why:

1) I saw the word "dancing" in the title and suddenly I was intoxicated by memories of Slash Dance and I thought, "I loved Slash Dance, I'll love this, too!"

2) I saw this picture on the back of the box:

Someone getting zapped by blue movie lightning! I'm a total sucker for it.

That's it! That's it. That's all it took for me to fork over $0.30 and get all hepped up for this movie.

YES ONLY THIRTY CENTS. Why am I making a big deal out of this when the movie cost less than one-third of a dollar, you're wondering. Hmm, now that I mention it, I'm kind of wondering, too. I guess maybe even a mere thirty cents is too much for 100 minutes of crapola, and it makes me think "Well why did you assume it would be good in the first place?" and then I reminisce on my reasoning and then I wonder if I was dropped on my head a few times as a child.

But then I think, what is life without risking thirty cents?

Ugh, do you see how I go back and forth? Do you see how I am conflicted? DO YOU SEE WHAT SHADOW DANCING HAS DONE TO ME?

Here's the trailer, let it do a little bit of that to you:

Geezalou, even the trailer feels long.

So there was a dancer named Lili La Nuit (authentic French name) and...I don't know. Guys fell in love with her and then she was murdered on stage, or maybe it was an accident. And now 40 years later the theater opens again and a dancer finds Lili's shawl and puts it on and is maybe possessed? Or Lili is a ghost?

Trust me, that makes it sound way better than it was. Lili doesn't do anything except laugh and dance. And dance. And fucking dance and I know that the word "dancing" is right there in the title, but there's so much dancing. And it's all to music that's truly awful. Like, so awful that when my neighbor came home during a particularly interminable dance number, I thought "Oh dear, I hope they can't hear this music and they think I'm just, like, listening to it." I'm not one to care about such things, but it was actually embarrassing.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the hell was going on in Shadow Dancing- not because a true mystery was afoot or anything, but because the film's structure was so damn janky. The "plot", as it were, was essentially pooped out in a couple of piles of exposition in the last seven minutes. Until then, it was unclear why things were happening or even what was happening. I wish Shadow Dancing ended up being the movie I thought it was going to be, because after one scene I thought maybe there was a telekinetic baby. After another scene, I thought there was a telekinetic parrot! But nope. Nothing so exciting, just dancing and laughing. No one even dies in this! (SPOILER.)

So, yes. I wasted $0.30 and 100 minutes of my life on this movie. I'd hoped it would be, like, the love child of Slash Dance and Ninja III: The Domination, which, let's face it, would probably be the best movie ever made. But why did I think that? Because of the title and that picture on the back. Stupid brain.

Oh well. I must admit, a few good things came out of Shadow Dancing, so there's a bright side to all of this.

1) It made me finally admit that I just don't like watching people dance. In fact, I really kind of hate it! I admire the skill and all that (jazz), but as an art form, dance does not appeal to me at all. If this makes me sound like some sort of rube, so be it! At least I'm living an honest life now.

2) There's a scene where Christopher Plummer says, "Oh damn, my corn niblets are burning!" Yes this is a high point of the movie.

3) Thinking about that Slash Dance/Ninja III love child means I'm thinking about Ninja III, which sure I do that a lot anyway, but more is always better. And since I'm living an honest life now, I'll admit that if Lucinda Dickey starred in Shadow Dancing, this review would probably say "Can you believe this movie was only thirty cents!"

Stupid brain.


Miskatonic said...

When I saw Christopher Plummer in the trailer, I thought, "No way that's Christopher Plummer". Then I read 2). Unbelievable!

Stacie Ponder said...

He must have had a mortgage payment due or something!

Yummy Pizza said...

If I had only that trailer to go by I would have zero knowledge of what Shadow Dancer is about. And reading your review, I guess I still don't! But it was a delightful read that made very very happy those minutes it took to read it!

Surely that's worth the $0,30 plus 100 minutes plus however many hours and/or minutes it took for you to write it.

Stacie Ponder said...

Thanks for the kinds words! And believe me, I spent 100 minutes with the damn movie and I still don't know what the point was.

AE said...

I want to see only the corn niblets scene, but then I imagine I will want to see it every day.

Stacie Ponder said...

Like I said on Twitter, I'm going to spend the rest of my days under the assumption that it wasn't a scripted line, but rather it was lunchtime and his niblets really WERE burning.