Danskins of the Damned

on November 24, 2008 by Steve Simels

Fun fact: Up until a few weeks ago, the critical consensus among most sentient mammals was that this was the Worst Film Musical Sequence of All Time.

In case you don't recognize it (and if so, thank whatever merciful God you acknowledge) that's the closing scene from Staying Alive, the appalling 1983 sequel to Saturday Night Fever, written and directed by great musical auteur musclebound lummox Sylvester Stallone. The guy in the shredded danskin is, of course, John Travolta, reprising (badly) his Tony Manero character from the earlier film. Here, having acquired a big break role in Satan's Alley, the Broadway show within the movie, he essays the lead in a hellish production number titled "We Dance (So Close to the Fire)." Critics at the time were united in their belief that this was, in fact, the nadir of musical cinema to date; many also suggested that the number looked utterly unlike anything ever seen on the Broaway stage and that Stallone was astoundingly ignorant of American musical theater history. Of course, in that regard the monosyllabic Sly had the last laugh in the years that followed, as anybody who's endured the similarly staged Les Miserables or Miss Saigon can attest.

In any case, a thoroughly appalling musical number. But not the all time awfullest, not any more.

Fun fact number two: The new consensus winner for Worst Film Musical Sequence of All Time is without question "Scream." From High School Musical 3. In theaters now.

That is, of course, the unwaxed eyebrows and boundless teen angst that is HSM3 star Zac Efron, seen here doing his impression of Flashdance star Jennifer Beals having a nervous breakdown. Of course, Beals never had to deal with an attack by multiple basketballs or those Caligari-esque camera angles, but after all this is an age of diminished expectations. And it should be noted that the deep psychic anguish being dramatized in "Scream," the existential dilemma facing Efron's character which brings on this musical and terpsichorean cri de coeur, is whether or not to accept an athletic scholarship or one to the arts program at Juilliard. Scary!!!

We should also note that the above, like the rest of the movie, was choreographed by one Charles "Chucky K." Klapow. I mention his name only because knowing it might help you to avoid encountering more of his work in the future. You'll thank me, I'm sure.


Tags: Staying Alive, Saturday Night Fever, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, From High School Musical 3

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