Making a Nightwish for the Laughing Dead to do a Slash Dance

I lived through the 80s, when cable TV was everything and I worked in a video store with a huge horror section, yet there are still films I’ve never seen. Like these three…


It’s surprising that it took six years after Flashdance for someone to make a movie with this title.

Being a low budget, straight-to-video indie, this is visually the epitome of what the 80s looked like—women with high hair in tacky jazzercise clothing. Oh how I miss that decade.

It’s a cheesy story of female dancers getting killed by a masked psycho in between countless rehearsal montages at a theater.

One female is an undercover detective. There are a couple of female wrestlers. There’s a perv who flashes women yet is clearly being portrayed as a feminine gay man.

I will say that the score during killer POV moments is 80s slasher perfection, but that’s about it. Actually, I also felt warm and fuzzy longing for the decade of my teens when the detective walks the streets…past tons of neon lights advertising adult entertainment.


The opener of Nightwish is classic 80s horror, with a young woman being chased by a zombie on a desolate street at night.

Then we discover what’s really going on. This is like Flatliners if it were a sleazy 80s horror video rental. A college professor and his handful of students are doing visualization experiments that allow each of them to essentially experience a horror movie death.

The group heads to a house in the woods to investigate its paranormal history. Among the kids is 80s butch boy Brian Thompson and cutie Clayton Roehner (I Madman, April Fool’s Day).

The bad news is that the film is extremely slow for quite a while as the group performs various experiments and unleashes just some minor, silly ectoplasmic snake nonsense.

Eventually the college professor’s determination turns to extremism and things begin to spiral out of control. Everyone is forced to become part of his ritualistic plan to release the entity he believes inhabits the house.

The absolute 80s horror insanity begins when one of the girls gets lost in underground caves and experiences ooey-gooey, nightmarish horror and gore reminiscent of the insanity of Stuart Gordon’s Lovecraft adaptations of the time.

Essentially, just when the film feels like a waste of time, it kicks into high gear and delivers everything that made 80s horror a blast.


The Laughing Dead has the distinction of starring sci-fi and horror writers rather than actors. Perhaps that is the reason it plays out like a campy horror comedy…unless the comedy was intended, which would explain the title. Either way, it has the feel of a badly dubbed 80s Euro horror film even though it’s in English.

The plot is equally as messy and wacky as an 80s Euro horror flick. A priest takes a bunch of people on an archeological tour of Mexico during the Day of the Dead celebration and they begin experiencing one unrelated horror situation after another.

A zombie basketball game…

  A possessed girl…

Demon dinosaurs?

What the fuck did I just watch? And why isn’t it on DVD?

Adding to all the absurdity, the priest has to deal with an ex-nun he screwed years before…who boards his bus with their son! Seriously, there’s a heartwarming family side story that even delivers a happy ending.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at
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