Murder-Rock: Dancing Death (1984)

After the blockbuster success of dance movies Fame and Flashdance, Lucio Fulci, Italy’s ‘King of Gore’, decided it would be a good idea to cash-in on the craze, so in 1984 he gave the world Murder Rock, a giallo style thriller packed with energetic dance sequences (performed by bodacious babes in skimpy Lycra leotards and leggings) and several murders (performed by a mysterious unseen killer wearing gloves and a leather jacket).

Unfortunately, due to the modus operandi chosen by the movie’s murderer—a hat pin in the heart—the film is considerably less gory than Fulci’s earlier blood-drenched movies, and, despite it being one of his more competent and visually interesting efforts, many of his loyal fans were disappointed with the result. I found the film no less entertaining than most of Lucio’s previous efforts, crammed as it is with wall-to-wall gyrating, sweaty hard-bodied honeys, but a bit more gore would certainly have been welcomed.

Starting with a long opening dance sequence in which we get to see our potential victims bopping away to a pounding disco beat, Fulci makes it quite clear that T&A is high on the agenda. The stunning girls enthusiastically writhe and thrust to the music, building up such a sweat that it isn’t long before viewers are treated to the first shower scene, which ends with a busty blonde becoming victim number one. In a virtually bloodless murder, the killer pushes a bejewelled hat-pin into the girl’s heaving bosom, puncturing her heart. And a legion of Fulci fans scream, ‘Where’s the gore?’.

And so it continues, with more dance sequences (including one erotic routine reminiscent of Jennifer Beal’s nightclub act from Flashdance) and a few more splatter-free deaths. Fulci tries hard to emulate the directorial stylistics used by his contemporaries in the genre, and manages to throw together some quite interesting visuals, but the film soon becomes tedious, and with my two favourite girls offed first, I quickly started to lose patience.

In typical giallo fashion, the killer is revealed during the film’s closing moments, but anyone who has seen this kind of thing before will probably have worked out who was responsible long before the end.

And the relevance of the hat-pins? Well that is never explained leaving me wondering why Fulci picked this method of killing when an axe to the head would have been so much juicier.