I want to dance with somebody
Dance with Death (1992): 8 out of 10: An almost scene for scene remake of 1987’s Stripped to Kill, Dance with Death stars Barbara Alyn Woods as a up and coming investigative reporter going undercover as a stripper to write a story about a serial killer preying on girls working at a topless bar and possibly romancing Maxwell Caulfield who is an undercover cop investigating the same.
The Good: Barbara Alyn Woods is the reason to see Dance with Death. She lights up the screen in every scene she is in (And she is in almost all of them) and her smile and enthusiasm is infectious. In addition, she brings a level of at least competence to her acting chops that some of her fellow cast seems to struggle with (cough Maxwell Caulfield cough).
Martin Mull is always a pleasure, and he is a pleasure in this film as well. Martin plays an affable sleazy with a wonderful undercurrent of frustration.
One of my pet peeves of strip clubs in some movies is their strippers never actually get naked. (I mean, you already have an R rating. You put your characters in a strip club. Why is everyone still dressed?)
Well, that is not a problem here. No siree Bob, not a problem at all. Which might explain the eight out of 10? Of course, in reality, I would never recommend a two-hour movie based on an actress taking her clothes off. What? Fine, Leela Savasta in Masters of Horror: Haeckel’s Tale is the exception that proves the rule. What? Okay, Julianna Guill in the Friday the 13th remake and Leela Savasta in Masters of Horror: Haeckel’s Tale are the exceptions that prove the rule. What is that? I haven’t even posted my Beastmaster review yet and I haven’t even written a review for Blame it on Rio.
Okay, apparently I do, on very rare occasions, recommend a movie based on a certain performance by an actress in a role that involves nudity and sex. Is Dance with Death one of those movies? I mean, it has so many other fine qualities besides Barbara Alyn Woods such as… um… Okay, this might be one of those examples.
Two-Thirds through the movie. Is that a chubby Lisa Kudrow with dark hair? Good lord, it is.
Besides Lisa Kudrow Dance with Death also has just enough batshit crazy bits to recommend. It has enough murder suspects for a Murder on the Orient Express strip-club version. Cops that shoot suspects on the slightest provocation. Jealous lesbians. A killer giving Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees a run for the money in the never stay dead category. As noted above, Martin Mull. I mean it is hardly in the upper pantheon of the batshit crazy you have to see this movie category but is adds enough spice combined with Barbara Alyn Woods enthusiastic performance to give it a recommendation.
The Bad: Maxwell Caulfield first rose to the public’s attention as Michelle Pfeiffer’s love interest and singing partner in the ill fated Grease 2. Maxwell certainly looks the part as the undercover cop/ love interest (And murder suspect. I mean, why not? Everyone else in this film is a murder suspect.) Maxwell’s acting certainly does give one some evidence on why he struggled to find mainstream Hollywood success after Grease 2.
According to IMDb trivia, the script took three days to write. Since they just photocopied the script from Stripped to Kill, that must have been one slow copying machine.
Protip: you can have too many suspects in your murder mystery., Though, in all fairness to Dance with Death, if you kill off half a dozen of them, it does narrow it down a bit.
There is a killer chases final girl scene at the end that almost borders on parody. There are so many cardboard boxes in the abandoned warehouse I half expected to see force dimension T-Rex puppets to show up.
Some of the strippers also look better with thier clothes on. But that might be a matter of personal taste and one’s tolerance for bad boob jobs.
The Ugly: Thier is an attempted gang rape played for laughs. It is completely unnecessary for the plot and could have been excised with no one noticing. It also serves no purpose except to deliver one of the most tone deaf dad jokes I have ever heard uttered. Come on 1992, you knew better.
In Conclusion: Barbara Alyn Woods may not be the best actress ever to grace the silver screen but she is charming in this role and enthusiastic. She gives the role her all. She is the reason to watch Dance with Death. Also, did I mention all the well lit nudity?