Take one part "Sixteen Candles" and one part "Return of the Living Dead" and you've got "Dance of the Dead", one of the eight horror films released by Lionsgate from the Ghost House Underground. This lox budget zombie fest has the look and feel of one of those 1980's comedy/dramas that were so prevalent during that era.
It's prom night at Cosa High but as Jimmy heads out to prom, his boss at the pizza shop orders him to do one more delivery. Late arrival will be the least of Jimmy's problems. Seems the geeks from the Sci-Fi club decided to play around in the local cemetery and now the dead are (literally) jumping out of their graves in search of flesh. We get a pretty good hit of the cause of the zombie outbreak by the bellowing smokestacks from the nuclear power plant in the background. Soon, geeks, jocks, and delinquents alike find themselves having to join forces and make a final stand against the undead in the school gymnasium.
"Dance of the Dead" was obviously HIGHLY influenced by "Return of the Living Dead", from its source of the dead returning to life, it's slapstick humor, and even down to a scene where several students take refuge in a funeral parlor. As far as that goes, it's not the most original film but it is a lot of fun. What hurts the film ultimately is that it loses it's humor in the second half and then becomes standard zombie fare and it doesn't handle that situation quite as well, although the punk/metal band who is able to keep the zombies docile by playing is amusing.
The acting is surprisingly good for the budget and the actors were believable as actual teenagers. The effects were better than you might expect as well, particularly the scene in which a zombie gets cut in half and it's lower torso runs away. "Dance of the Dead" won't become a cult favorite but it's certainly worth a rent.