User Reviews (11)

  • madsagittarian23 January 2005
    One of those films...
    I may be a one-person cult for this picture. I have had a soft spot for it ever since I saw the movie on the late show in 1989. Some of the other reviewers for this title have made a reasonable assertion as to why they don't like SLAMDANCE, and interestingly enough, I understand and agree with their decisions. Yes, this movie is a disjointed mess, but it has a strange beauty on a visceral and emotional level; this sets it apart from way too many films made in the decade which threw everything together in order to seem different, regardless of whether everything gelled.

    For instance, this film veers uncomfortably from goofy comedy to more sordid material. However, that makes sense as the central character is a cartoonist- a man-child who teeters between the comic book sensibilities of his work, and the demands of the very adult real world (he seldom lives up to his responsibilities). Mr. Drood is a perpetual screw-up; he was barely supportive of his wife and child, and now must deal with unfathomable emotions since he is now implicated in the murder of a fleeting flame.

    I've never been much of a fan of Virginia Madsen, particularly because this classy, slightly mysterious blonde has never been given good material... at least until recently. But Wayne Wang understands her screen presence perfectly. The highlight of the film is Tom Hulce's scenes with her (set in the movie's past). These moments with the femme fatale are beautiful evocations of allure, desire and implicit danger underneath the colourful settings- classic traditions of film noir. With their saturated hues and sexy jazz soundtrack, these moments work on an almost dreamlike approach.

    Even though SLAM DANCE is a dog's breakfast of styles and tones, this segment is nonetheless indicative of the film's success on a completely non-literal level. Yes this is another 1980's quirky film which has the obligatory cameo by a punk musician... and the "hip" quotient also given by a Harry Dean Stanton role, but there's just something more about it that makes not just another curiosity piece. The first time I saw it in 1989, I was with two others who didn't like the movie at all. As much as I could understand their reasons why, I still feel that this odd duck of a movie has that special "something"... and I have still felt that after repeated viewings. It either works for you, or it doesn't. It just depends on whether the film hits you on the right emotional level.

    If you looked up this title because you have a strange attraction to this picture, you're not alone.
  • Sic Coyote14 June 2000
    Another classic from the pen of Don Opper
    Maybe I am biased when I say that as I only rented this out because Don Opper wrote it and played a part. But that's only because he's good at what he does. Five years after writing and staring in the classic film Android he made this downbeat conspiracy mystery which has a good handful of funny bits stuck in for good measure. A woman is dead and the police are suspectful of an artist who called into the police after escaping from some strange guys with guns. The plot is slowly revealed as to what is going on. Although this movie doesn't really have enough twists in it than it should have had it is still rock solid entertainment, why Adam Ant is in there as the artist's mate I'll never know. Rent it out and see what you think. 7 out of 10
  • Rodrigo Amaro8 March 2013
    Won't say "Slam Dance" was exactly a waste of time since it has some relatively interesting moments, parts to make you wonder. What I will say about this movie is that it was just too much of so less, off-beat, weirder by the minute and with not much to say. Here's an obscure film that needs to remain obscure, a film noir trying to be funny with humorless comedy intertwined with two or three good suspense scenes.

    My main interest in seeing this was because of Tom Hulce in one of his first roles after the acclaim for "Amadeus" but he doesn't repeat the same qualities of that role. Not because it's different characters (both artists though) but simply because he's just not funny while playing this wimpy cartoonist trying to solve the mystery behind the murder of his love affair, a femme fatale (Virginia Madsen) involved with powerful and dangerous people. There's small portions when his character is charming and playful - specially towards kids and his daughter Beane (Judith Barsi) - but there are times when of eminent danger when he's desperate and he's trying to be cool and it just doesn't work. It makes things worse. And the whole thing of him dissecting the case is to be watched with a straight-faced expression in disbelief with everything going around, it's not confusing as it could be but it's just so not involving and lacking of good explanations (Adam Ant's character for example).

    What does "Slam Dance" gets it right: all of the scenes with Virginia Madsen, presented in flashbacks exposing the torrid love affair between she and the cartoonist, there's magic going on between them; and the explanation on why she was killed, part of the final moments. It's extremely frustrating the whole way until we get there. It's like uh huh why should I keep going on in figure out who killed the woman? It loses time and essence and you're there for too little, almost nothing. A little watchable because of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Millie Perkins and Harry Dean Stanton. 5/10
  • mikeg210 April 2007
    Not exactly Hitchcock
    Warning: Spoilers
    One of those thrillers that isn't half as clever as it thinks it is, and which half the time leaves you wondering what the heck is going on.

    Tom Hulce is a "struggling artist" who lives in a dingy apartment in Hollywood. He has a daughter with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, but they split up because Tom prefers to spend his time drinking, painting, and having casual sex with women he meets at a club owned by Adam Ant. Tom also spends a lot of time laughing at his own cartoons, which are painfully unfunny yet somehow earn him enough to pay the rent.

    The first half-hour of the movie is unfathomable. There are a few comedic moments as we see Tom's home life, his daughter, and his broken relationship. Then, Tom comes home to a ransacked apartment and a confrontation with a scary dude in a red coat and dark glasses. Mr. Redcoat whacks Tom, and when he wakes up he's in a car with Redcoat and some other strange men. Redcoat demands Tom gives him "something" that "she" gave to him, but Tom doesn't appear to know anything about the "she" or the "something" that Redcoat is referring to. Redcoat is not happy about this, and pushes Tom out of the car, whereupon he's almost squashed by a large truck.

    Tom goes to the police, and he then realises who the "she" was. Tom recently had casual sex with a woman (Virginia Madsen) whom he met at Adam Ant's club (it is later revealed that she was a prostitute, but Tom did not know this at the time). She has been found dead, and Tom was the last person to see her alive, so he's now in the frame for her murder.

    Various other elements are brought into play, such as a society scandal, some incriminating photographs, a good cop, a corrupt cop, and an extremely powerful and wealthy society lady (who turns out to be behind the plot, her intention being to frame and ultimately kill Tom so that his paintings, many of which she owns, will rise in value). It's all faintly ridiculous, and progresses in such a jarring and disjointed way that it feels as though your brains are being scrambled.

    There are a few priceless moments, but these aren't enough to redeem the film. What could have been an erotic scene - Tom getting to grips with a very naked Lisa Niemi - turns into extreme farce, as Tom's little daughter walks in and says "hi", completely unfazed (she's clearly used to seeing strange nude women in Daddy's apartment!) Mary then walks in, and she is somewhat less approving, so Tom desperately tries to make excuses and fails badly ("Is she a model?" "No, she's a secretary" - D'OH!) Mary storms out and Tom chases after her, to no avail. When he returns to the apartment, he finds Lisa dead (he actually trips over and lands face first in her pubic hair), so he ultimately decides he has to go on the run.

    Tom goes to Mary's house and tricks her into letting him in, in the hope of finding refuge. Then, Adam Ant walks into the room wearing only a pair of underpants and a silly hat, and Tom slumps into a chair looking defeated and betrayed. This is probably the funniest moment in the whole movie.

    Eventually, Tom manages to unravel the entire thing (he's doing better than the audience at this point) and he confronts Wealthy Society Lady at an outdoor party, where all of the guests (several hundred of them) appear to be in on her plot. Redcoat is assigned to drive Tom up to the Hollywood sign and kill him, but for some reason he shoots himself instead, allowing Tom to make his escape.

    Tom asks Mary to meet him in a hotel room, which she does, but she brings along the Good Cop (Harry Dean Stanton) for support. Unfortunately, Corrupt Cop turns up as well and after a standoff, both cops are dead. Tom realises he is in it up to his neck and decides his only way out is to fake his own death, with Mary's help and support. Tom goes back up to the Hollywood sign, where Redcoat's body is still in the car. He takes Redcoat's dark glasses, sets the car alight and makes a dash for it.

    The final scene is at "Tom's" funeral. Mary and daughter, wearing funereal clothes, get into a car. The camera pans and we see the car is being driven by a smiling Tom, who has disguised himself as Redcoat by wearing his dark glasses and combing his hair. Cue end credits; gnashing of audience teeth.

    The major plot developments are unconvincing, and the conclusion unsatisfying. Too many things are left unsaid. What was Adam Ant's role in all of this? Was he in on the whole thing? Did he set Tom up with prostitutes so he could jump into bed with Mary? How did Corrupt Cop become wound up in the plot? Part of the problem is that we don't care what happens to Tom, as he is such an unlikeable character. He cheats on his wife and (knowingly or otherwise) uses hookers. He laughs at his own jokes, he appears to be mad, whiny, and delusional, and is capable of extreme violence (witness the extremely unpleasant scenes with his elderly landlady - is this supposed to be a guy we're meant to root for?) At one point, I thought there was going to be a split personality twist, where Tom and Redcoat turned out to be the same person. It's not that type of movie, though.

    Sometimes, an inscrutable plot can reward an audience willing to think outside the box and unravel it. However, Slam Dance has such poorly-acted, two-dimensional characters with unconvincing motivations, you get the impression that it simply isn't worth the effort.
  • GlimmerTwin8725 June 2005
    Not as bad as Leonard Maltin thinks
    I caught this movie on cable late one night and was pleasantly surprised. I found it to be entertaining and even a bit suspenseful in a 'Memento' sort of way. Adam Ant has some good comic relief and Tom Hulce is very satisfactory in the lead role. If you are looking for a sleeper at the local video store, check this one out. It appears at times to be a low-budget, late 80's type of film, but sometimes that is not a bad thing at all. I gave/give this film a solid 7 out of 10, and I recommend it for viewing. Two or three cocktails is a nice beginning to this steady film. The only real drawback is the heavy, who comes off as so wimpy that Virginia Madsen could take him out, but hey, that is just my opinion.
  • jbdean11 February 1999
    It'll Knock The Wind Outta' Ya!
    Ready for a wild ride into the underworld?

    Murder, sex, Mafia, cops, love and marriage ... Slamdance has it all!

    C.C. Drood* is a cartoonist but his life is anything but a comic strip. When an affair with a mystery woman he meets at a friend's club leads to murder and his implication, life turns upside down for Drood. Just wanting to reunite with his wife and their daughter, Drood has to solve a mystery that even the cops can't figure out. And life begins to imitate art ... the art of being treacherous!

    ==========> *TOM HULCE is C.C. Drood. Tom, again, brings us a complete character ... as real as life. Drood has a funny side, a serious side, a vulnerable side and a loyal side. He shows us the chaos of being caught in a lie and the struggle of trying to straighten it out. Drood is a great role and is done to perfection by Hulce!
  • kergillian13 April 2001
    Beautifully shot, horribly constructed!
    Warning: Spoilers
    This film is gorgeous. Cinematography is original and startling; some of the shots are truly art. The unfortunate part is that the film itself needed some *major* help. The plot was so mysterious that the clues barely connected to the plot, and even at the end the answers were tenuous at best. It's all laid out but so flimsily and haphazardly that much of the story lacks proper explanation (for example: what part did John Gilbert have in the whole set-up? Why was Adam Ant's character friendly with John and why would he betray a seemingly close friend?) As well, much of the story was unbelievable, such as Helen sleeping with Adam Ant's character, which also really had nothing whatsoever to do with the story and could have been eliminated altogether without making a difference. And Nye's lackey who seems too involved with the whole situation for a flunky and his characterization was so back and forth it felt like he was schizophrenic...

    Also, the pacing was really off. The fast pace contrasted too sharply with the slow, and the slow was *way* too damn slow. The film wasn't too long, but at times it dragged too much, which could have been solved by more consistent writing and better pacing and transition between scenes.

    The cast was quite good as a whole, though most of the characters were too flat (not the actors' faults). But I *really* didn't like Tom Hulce. He whined and he was much too (how did the goon put it?) ‘chicken-shit' for a buff guy. And did I mention he whined a hell of a lot?? It was like watching Steve Guttenberg in a murder mystery. Adam Ant rocked though, he was definitely the best of the cast, though Harry Dean Stanton was good as always, though he got stuck with a fairly useless role.

    Overall: the film needed a re-write. I appreciate what Wayne Wang was trying to do; and the moulding of art-film style shooting with a noir-style plot is a bold, albeit difficult, one to try. This film is admirable for what it attempts, and the vision succeeds; I have to reiterate: what a beautiful film!! Gorgeously shot; clever shots, fabulous lighting, and consistently great uses of mirrors! If only the story wasn't so has such great potential!! For cinematography I give it a nine, but as an overall film, 6/10.
  • Infofreak17 March 2002
    Another dud from the pen of Don Opper!
    'Slamdance' is a frustrating exercise! A good director (Wayne Wang - 'Smoke') and an interesting cast, led by Tom Hulce ('Amadeus'), are dragged down by a rambling and dull script from actor/writer Don Opper (previously responsible for the inexplicable cult movie 'Android'). All your standard noir elements are here - a sexy blonde with a double life, a hero in way over his head, a murder frame, corruption in the police force and even higher, but Opper manages to make it all so boring you can't wait for it to end!

    I mentioned the interesting cast, and that is the only reason for sitting through this. It includes legendary character actor Harry Dean Stanton ('Repo Man'), punk rockers turned actors Adam Ant and John Doe ('Boogie Nights'), Robert Beltran ('Eating Raoul') and the too little seen Millie Perkins ('The Shooting'). Virginia Madsen ('The Hot Spot') also appears in flash back only.

    'Slamdance'? I'll sit this one out, thank you.
  • haildevilman13 November 2007
    Fugitive elf???
    Warning: Spoilers
    Had a hard time following this one.

    3 years removed from an Oscar nom, our man Tommy Hulce plays a fish out of water. A very Hitchcockian thriller here. Confused guy gets caught up in things he can't control. Been there seen that.

    This seemed like a bunch of separate scenes thrown together in the hopes something coherent would rise. Pity it didn't happen that way. The wife goes from cheating whore to 'die for my man' attitude in record time. And John Doe's hit-man decides to shoot himself in sacrifice at the last minute.

    I felt like stuff was missing. And this print is a bit dark too.

    Wayne Wang is a talented director. What happened here?
  • Rock Savage14 May 2006
    A Film To Be Missed!
    "Slam Dance" is not a good picture. First of all it's boring. Second it's badly written and thirdly it's badly directed.

    Tom Hulce gives a very cheesy performance as a troubled cartoonist on the run. During an early scene he enters his burglarized apartment and reaches for an umbrella for protection. The ridiculous expression of satisfaction he gives at finding such a handy weapon is completely out of tune with the tension of the scene and so from that point on all credibility is lost. Surprisingly Tom Hulce has a few more moments of uncertainty as an actor during the course of this rambling movie. The blame must rest firmly on the director shoulders.

    There are also a myriad of corny coincidences and gaping loopholes that only serve to alienate the viewer. Such simple logic as to how a casually dressed man on the run can enter an evening dress society Hollywood party with out the hint problem is tossed aside as unimportant.

    Just because children seem to like the lead protagonist does not automatically mean the audience will. Who is this cartoonist that laughs at his own jokes?

    This is a motion picture that can degrade in the studio vaults to its hearts content because it will never be missed.
  • Pepper Anne26 November 2006
    A visual gem, but a narrative jumble. (spoilers)
    Warning: Spoilers
    It is obvious from the music video included prior to the movie on the VHS version, that Slam Dance's strengths is in its visual elements, and as such, it is very simply and 80s movie in almost every visual respect. Unfortunately, what at least looked interesting, and was well-paced, was also a jumbled narrative which tends to deliver too much for its viewers to digest at one time with incoherent explanation. And while the movie's appearance may have been constructed with care, the fact that it's plot is delivered too hastily, may in the end turn the viewer off or at least, leave them confused by its finale.

    The story involves a freelance cartoon artist (Tom Hulce) who appears to have little going for him. He is separated from his wife (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) with whom he has a daughter. He lives in a shoddy apartment (which looks more like an emptied indoor swimming pool) and in general, he is nothing remarkable. When his apartment is broken into one evening, and two men hold him hostage, his life is abruptly turned upside down. The men, and soon two police detectives, are investigating the whereabouts of his old (mysterious) flame (Virginia Madsen). What first seems like a case of mistaken identity turns into a complex mystery where everyone is a suspect with Hulce at its center trying to prove his innocence. But, what is revealed by its finale is a confusing and only partially explained story of high-end corruption, prostitution, and murder. (I would agree with the viewer who wrote that it's pool of potential talent such as director Wang and lead actor Hulce are squashed by Don Opper, characteristic ability to turn a script into a mess... I would point to 'City Limits' as an egregious example). And for this, even such care with the art direction cannot compensate.