Random Acts of Dancing: Horror Edition (Or Women with Moves Part II)
I want to say right off that Britt Ekland‘s dance scene from The Wicker Man (the original!) is my favorite of all time. Even though, from what I’ve read, a Scottish woman acted as a body double for all the shots of her lower half (no point in letting facts ruin one’s fantasies, though). I think the Flickchart blog caps off at PG-13, so I can’t actually show you a clip from the film. You should watch the whole movie if you haven’t seen it, anyway, since it’s one of those classics that all upstanding movie aficionados should have under their belt.
I know a lot of you out there immediately thought of Salma Hayek‘s snake dance in From Dusk Till Dawn when you saw that this article was about horror dancing. Sure, I get twitterpated over Hayek as much as the next guy. I just figured that there’s little point in writing about a scene that has probably been playing on an endless loop throughout the civilized world ever since the film was released on DVD. Here’s the clip, though, in case some of you have not seen the film and are wondering what all the fuss is about:
With that out of the way, I’ll now reminisce about a couple of women who defined horror dancing for me years before Salma Hayek prowled out on the stage.
Back in the early 80’s, Cassandra Peterson created the Elvira character to host a weekend horror movie program in Los Angeles. I grew up on the other side of the country, and was probably too young at the time to appreciate her suggestive jokes and more obvious physical embellishments. The only horror host I can clearly recall from my younger days is the un-sexy Count Scary.
My first major exposure to Elvira, outside of beer commercials, came with her debut motion picture, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. By that time, I was awash in a sea of puberty. I remember talking a friend of mine into catching the $1 show at the local theater. He was kind enough to have coaxed me into seeing Adventures in Babysitting by promoting Elisabeth Shue‘s charms, so I figured I could return the favor by introducing him to Elvira’s.
In addition to being an insightful drama about bosom envy between women, the film boasts two dance numbers (or three, if you want to count the one with the townspeople, which is hardly a turn-on). The first takes place at a late night horror movie show Elvira hosts at the theater. After a screening of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, she performs her version of the chair dance from Flashdance . It was at this point that my friend turned to me and said “This is kind of stupid”. Granted, Shue’s dancing in Babysitting was high art by comparison, but he could’ve at least humored me.
(NOTE: The movie Dogtooth, as you may be aware, also has a scene inspired by Flashdance . While it’s not a horror flick, Dogtooth has one the creepier examples of interpretive Flashdance-ing that I know of. Here’s the original scene if you haven’t yet taken the time to compare them.)
At the end of Mistress of the Dark, Elvira finally realizes her dream of performing in a Las Vegas show. I hoped that her climactic dance spectacular would be impressive enough to convince my friend that my choice of films wasn’t a total bust. That is, until Elvira started rapping. No matter how voluptuous a woman may be, bad rapping is like a verbal cold shower. I noticed this at a very young age when I first heard “Rapture” by Blondie. Almost a decade after Debbie Harry’s failed attempt at rapping, Elvira did nothing to advance white people’s standing in the genre. At least, in my opinion. Judge for yourself:
I’ve seen quite a few horror movies over the years that contain dancing off a more titillating variety than even Elvira can bring to the table. While Britt Ekland’s scene from The Wicker Man will always be my most beloved, it was “Scream Queen” Linnea Quigley who introduced me to erotic horror dancing. If you’re not familiar with Quigley, here she is in a 1989 interview (around the time I first encountered her films) :
If you watched the clip, you heard her mention The Return of the Living Dead and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. Anyone interested in the subject of horror dancing should see them both. I assume a lot more people have already witnessed Quigley’s nude graveyard dance in Return, since it’s the better known film. But it’s her “Virgin Dance of the Double Chainsaws” in Hookers that is the more complex and impressive display of her moves. In Return, Quigley’s complete lack of clothing is probably what makes the scene memorable, rather than the dance itself (which is rather brief). The “Virgin Dance” is performed while wielding two chainsaws (hence the “Double Chainsaws” part of the title). Her only protection is some body paint and a G-string.
( If you’d like to watch”Virgin Dance” in order to study her technique, here’s the link. The picture quality isn’t that good, so any naughty bits are mostly obscured. Still, proceed at your own risk.)
For those of you who have tackled those two films and would like to experience some more Quigley dance action… Well, I’m hesitant to recommend Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout, to tell the truth. On the plus side, it’s the only exercise video I know of that begins with a shower scene (I’ve only watched a couple Yoga videos and Sweatin’ to the Oldies, though, so I’m no expert). On the negative side, it’s an exercise video. This means that most of the duration involves people working out. Granted, it’s Linnea Quigley working out in skimpy outfits, and at one point she even acts as a personal trainer to some zombies:
Now that I think about it, I’m not really sure why I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who’ll listen. It’s probably the only exercise video you’ll ever need. Even if you hate exercising, I’m sure there’s something you could find to do while watching the slumber party workout scene:
For the sake of objectivity, I should tell you that the zombie workout goes on for about four minutes longer than the clip I provided. Unless you actually participate along with the zombies, watching it becomes excruciating. It’s no “Thriller“. So, you can let Linnea Quigley do all the work during most of the video, but you’ll either want to sweat along with the zombies or skip the scene altogether. Also, overall, the jokes in the video are pretty terrible. Aside from when Quigley is talking about Chainsaw Hookers and says “Ginger Rogers had Fred Astaire, I have Black & Decker”. I guess that’s kind of funny.
SPECIAL BONUS MINI-REEL RUMBLES SECTION: KISS ME QUICK vs. ZOMBIE STRIPPERS
Back in the early 60’s, when movies were more innocent, there existed an “adult” genre called “Nudie Cutie”. I’ve seen a few such films, and have determined that the most common elements to be found are topless (though strangely wholesome) women, ogling men and terrible jokes. Released in 1964, Kiss Me Quick is a horror-themed “Nudie Cutie” with the added attraction of having cameo appearances by classic creatures like Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula. Zombie Strippers also features toplessness, ogling and questionable humor. The difference being that the “Cutie” aspect has been replaced by flesh-eating zombie women, sleaze and gore.
Kiss Me Quick is about an alien who teleports into the lab of mad scientist Dr. Breedlove searching for perfect female specimens to serve as slaves on his home planet. Most of the film involves Breedlove and the alien watching naked women engage in various activities, like playing in a kiddie pool. In Zombie Strippers, a zombie plague breaks out in a strip club due to a government screw-up. Most of the film is made up of either regular strip acts or super-powered undead strip acts. There’s definitely more of an actual story in Zombie Strippers, though, since Kiss Me Quick seems like an overly long comedy skit.
When it comes to the dancing, Kiss Me Quick has a five-minute scene so remarkable that the rest of the movie can’t possibly live up to it. I’m not going to claim that it’s sexier than any of the pole work in Zombie Strippers (not that I consider decomposing strippers to be sexy), but it is hypnotically strange. If I had to choose between watching the dance scene from Kiss Me Quick or the whole of Zombie Strippers for twenty-four hours straight, I’d really have to give the matter some thought…
Aside from Kiss Me Quick‘s five minutes of genius, there’s not a lot to recommend it to modern audiences. Zombie Strippers is the product of forty years of evolution, and you could say that it perfected the formula that Kiss Me Quick created. That is, aside from the comedy. Believe it or not, Zombie Strippers subjects the viewer to yet another “Badges? We ain’t got no badges” joke (switching “badges” with “badgers”). The Treasure of the Sierra Madre came out in 1948. According to Wikipedia, Blazing Saddles was one of the first to parody Sierra Madre‘s famous line in 1974. So that means Zombie Strippers is relying on humor that is over thirty years old. Clearly, the formula still needs some work.
(NOTE: If you’re keen on comparing Zombie Strippers to another horror film, you could try Deadgirl. There’s no dancing that I recall, but I’m pretty sure you could come up with some interesting philosophical comparisons with Zombie Strippers. Or, you could go the retro route again and put it up against Orgy of the Dead, which is also a strip-heavy horror flick. I can’t vouch for that one, though, since I haven’t been able to get through it yet.)
I’ll leave you with this tribute video to Beetlejuice, which is the greatest film with horror dancing that actually has funny jokes.
This post is part of our User Showcase series. You can find Chad as kingofpain on Flickchart. If you’re interested to submit your own story or article describing your thoughts about movies and Flickchart, read our original post for how to become a guest writer here on the Flickchart Blog.