We sometimes find comedy in the least likely and or most unintentional places. But, that which is subtly satirical, or unintentionally humorous is often funnier than anything that is overtly playing for laughs. Some of the greatest examples of these types of comedy can be found in dance sequences within a variety of our favorite horror films. There is just something undeniably humorous about films that call for a dance breakdown amidst mass hysteria. Unfortunately, over the top dance numbers are not as prevalent in contemporary horror cinema as they were back in the heyday. So, to pay tribute to some of our favorites, here are our picks for the seven most awesomely bad dance sequences in eighties horror cinema.
The Giant Owl Dance in Stagefright
Easily one of the most bizarre dance sequences in film history, let alone horror film history, this garish segment plays out like something out of a bad dream. Hookers, giant owls, and bad wigs, oh my. The man in the owl suit puts so much energy in to his dance moves that you can’t help but have fun. Unlike a lot of the films on our list, the filmmakers behind Stagefright were actually well aware of the ridiculous nature of this hilarious dance sequence. The characters even poke fun at it. But, that doesn’t stop it from being a tremendous amount of fun to laugh along with them. On another note, I regard Stagefright as a bit of an unsung Italian horror classic. It seems to oftentimes get lost amongst the prolific works of Fulci and Argento.
Jerry and Amy’s New Wave Dance in Fright Night
Who could ever forget the inexplicably strange, entrancing dance sequence between Jerry and Amy in Fright Night? I can’t help but laugh out loud every time I see the camera pan by the mirror and notice that Jerry has no reflection and Amy appears to be dancing with herself, with the most awkward expression on her face. In the mirror, we see an entranced Amy (Amanda Bearse) with her hands up in the air, moving around the dance floor like a cult member being guided by the mysterious power of thought control; I suppose that actually isn’t that far off from what’s really happening.
Kim and Her Date Disco Dancing in Prom Night
This early eighties Jamie Lee Curtis fright flick has one of the most epically silly dance numbers in horror history. Prom Night proves that disco was still alive and well in the early eighties. I had always thought that disco fever died with the seventies, but that was not the case at Hamilton High. Jamie Lee Curtis and her dance partner light up the stage in this awesomely bad dance sequence. No, really, they literally light up the stage; it’s a light up disco dance floor stage. The painstakingly choreographed disco dance routine and the light up dance floor are a spectacle that one must see in order to believe.
Disco Aerobics Zombie Dance from Nightmare City
The carefully choreographed disco aerobics sequence in Nightmare City is so awe inspiringly strange that the first time I saw the film, I had to stop the scene, rewind, and watch it a second time to verify that I wasn’t hallucinating. As it turns out, what I had just seen play out before my eyes had been for real. The scene looks like a mixture of interpretive dance and aerobic exercise. The music that accompanies the scene is tantamount to the music that plays at the beginning of a sitcom. The massacre that subsequently follows is equally enjoyable and mighty outlandish. The zombies attack in slow motion, which lends an even more dramatic flare to this already way over the top segment of Nightmare City.
Angela’s Weird Sex Dance in Night of the Demons
Angela’s demonic trance dance was totally bitchin’. And we can presume that she has good taste in music, since her dance is performed to the musical styling of Bauhaus. The girl can gyrate up a storm. Her gyration, however, takes on a certain campy quality that makes it hard to take very seriously. She looks like an especially whimsical satanic stripper. Angela proves that you don’t need your feet to dance. She does about half of her seductive number on her knees. She’s writhing around on the floor, moving her hands around like a mime that is stuck in a box. The reactions from her observers are pretty great, too. Night of the Demons is a true classic. It’s a shame that the 2009 remake didn’t do justice to its namesake.
Trash’s Graveyard Striptease in Return of the Living Dead
Linnea Quigley fully owned the role of Trash and this graveyard striptease. She was up on that grave dancing like there was no tomorrow. Paying no mind to the fact that they were in a sacred place, she did a striptease that would make a woman of the night blush. Her character, Trash, couldn’t wait to take her clothes off. In addition to being an exhibitionist, Trash also had some awesomely weird dialogue, like, right before she hops on top of a grave for her infamous exotic dance; she asks her friend if he ever fantasizes about all the different ways of dying. Trash was naked for the majority of the film, which was a hilarious gimmick. But, in interviews, Quigley has said that she was actually required to wear a crotch prosthetic that matched her skin tone, because walking around showing full frontal was deemed too controversial. Perhaps this bizarre dance number is what inspired her horror-themed workout video, which recently enjoyed a long awaited limited edition DVD release. However, from what we can tell, it seems to have gone out of print just as quickly as it came available.
Violet and Her Crimped Hair Do the Robot in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
This was such an amazingly unusual sequence. Unfortunately for Violet, killer dance moves were not enough to save her from the business end of Jason’s machete. Violet’s spontaneous urge to break in to dance was completely unexpected and completely awesome. Her mechanical gyrations are a site to behold. I’ve always felt it was a bit of an injustice for her to be skewered after putting on such a lovely performance. I always feel like there is a little much screen time dedicated to her solo dance number. But I am not complaining. She is really fun to watch. Apparently, though, Jason doesn’t have very good taste in radical dance moves. Violet meets her untimely fate, right as her dance is winding down.