"Five of the world’s most beautiful exotic dancers are competing for the title of Miss Dance-TV. Tonight on national television, scantily clad and eager for success, they’ll put on a show like no other. The live broadcast is about to begin. The music’s cued up, the girls are pumped, but things start to screw up when the dancers keep turning up dead!"
No, first off, this movie does not star Sharon Stone. This is, in fact, the movie that started it all for me. I saw it late one night on USA Up All Night years ago and have loved slasher films ever since. Don’t get me wrong, this film isn’t, by any means, the greatest slasher ever made; it doesn’t run close. But it contains all the cliches needed for a campy hack-n-slash: red herrings galore, babes in skimpy clothing running afoul a psycho, T&A romping, a nice body count and the assumed twist, all which keep this movie so very dear to my heart.
This is the third, and latest, slasher outing from Anthony Markes, director of the very similarly plotted BIKINI ISLAND and the perverted exploitation slasher flick THE INVISIBLE MANIAC. Whereas the others had models on an island photo shoot and high school kids stalked by their invisible teacher, LAST DANCE pits dancers in an L.A. nightclub vying for the title of 'Miss Dance TV'.
In the opening one of the girls gets ready to go to work at her beach house (which was also used in the first scene in BIKINI ISLAND!!) and is beaten to death with a wooden stick by a mysterious intruder. Cut to Jim Kenner (Kurt T. Williams), the good-looking man-whore bar owner talking to a friend in his office: “There’ll be plenty of babes…for the both of us dude!”. He then emerges into the colorful dance club where Merrill (Kimberly Speiss of PSYCHO COP 2) is training the dancers onstage. Merrill is bitter because she was once beautiful and young like the other girls, and also there is Rick, the bartender who is bitter and jealous with Jim and his success. And so the red herrings begin to pile even before the body count begin.
Then there are the dancers. These girls, I must admit, are the prettiest lot of girls I’ve seen in a flick like this, including Erica Ringstrom of “Playboy” magazine and Elaine Hendrix, who went on to better things like SUPER STAR, ROMY & MICHELLE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION and the PARENT TRAP remake. They all have two syllable names like Dana, Heather, Kelly, and the group is rounded out by Jamie (Cynthia Bassinet), who is both virginal and paranoid (how cheesily unoriginal)! Much of the first part of the film contains scenes of the girls rehearsing for their big night whilst Jim sleeps with those not rehearsing at random (of course, with the exception of virginal Bassinet and, oddly enough, he never seems to put the moves on best dancer and prettiest girl Ringstrom.)
Before long, the Dance TV film crew shows up (who are shooting the contest live) with an audience of people and two sweepstakes winners, who are rather annoying characters and you’ll cheer when they are done in early on. Meanwhile, as Dance TV sets up for the big show, the girls are dropping like flies. A different modus operandi is used for each death, which is a nice throwback from slashers of old school days. Also, everyone in this bad boy is a suspect…the dancers who are competing, even pimp owner Jim’s wandering eyes (during sex!) render him a red herring, too. This movie’s tagline should’ve been, “Guilty until proven dead!”
The film has a nice color to it and an appealing atmosphere in the night club, although not necessarily atmospheric in a scary sense. You’ll wonder where they ever dredged up the creepy-looking actor who plays the red herring club janitor Bix. The dance scenes aren’t overdone as they are in some stripper slashers (i.e. STRIPPED TO KILL Parts 1 & 2, SLASHDANCE, DEADLY DANCER) but then again, this is a much better flick. There’s just enough camp to shred serious cheese and just enough T&A for those who like pretty girls (but be warned, the chicks who take it off in the sex scenes are stand ins and in the dance scenes the girls never go topless). Gorehounds, also be warned…the death scenes are entertaining, but at the same time, practically bloodless. But the finale with Bassinet and the, uh, mystery killer makes watching the movie worthwhile, even if it’s not your cup of tea (just look at that over-dramatizing of their facial features!)
LAST DANCE isn’t, by any means, a classic, but it certainly has enough going for it to give it a look. If you can find it, that is…this movie has actually proven itself quite rare, and you may have to do some serious looking to get your mits on it. But, if you happen to stumble upon a copy, get it. Then, when you pop it in your VCR, get out your best cheese grader and let the early nineties funk music take you away!
female:6 / male:9
1) Female bashed in head with big wooden stick
2) Female bashed in head with metal bucket
3) Female choked with fishhooks in shot glass
4) Male bashed in head with metal bucket
5) Male bashed in head with metal bucket
6) Female hung with noose
7) Male ran over by moving vehicle
8) Female strangled with necktie (offscreen)
9) Male stabbed in back with knife
10) Male stabbed in back with knife
11) Female electrocuted with hair dryer in bathtub