Review: ‘Zombie Strippers’
What can you expect from a movie called Zombie Strippers, and how does one approach writing a review for said film? Surely the filmmakers weren’t trying to create a worthy piece of important cinema, so what kind of expectations do you set? Well, I figured as long as I was given what was promised, I’d be happy. And I was satisfied with what I got: zombies and strippers. And plenty of each.
For the first 10 or 15 minutes or so, I was pretty worried. The movie started off clever enough — with a voice over (echoes of Starship Troopers) and animation explaining how George W. Bush had somehow finagled himself into a fourth term in office, how the country was going to shit, and how public nudity had been deemed illegal. A sad state of affairs indeed. Then the movie cuts to a military lab of some kind where we’re told that scientists are working on a serum to keep soldiers fighting, even after they’re dead (hey, guess where this is going?). It’s not a bad concept, but it was done (and done better) in Joe Dante’s Masters of Horror episode, “Homecoming.”
The production values in these first scenes, showing the military lab and the team of zombie fighting specialists, were downright awful. I’m talking The Dead Next Door levels of badness. The acting, the lighting, the costumes, the effects — everything looked terrible. I almost turned the movie off.
Luckily, I didn’t. One of those military types gets bitten by a rogue (is there any other kind) zombie and makes his way to an illegal strip club, where we first meet the film’s heroes: Jenna Jameson’s boobies*. Eventually, one thing leads to another as they tend to do in zombie movies, and before you know it, Jameson’s been bitten and zombiefied.
But that doesn’t stop her from doing what she does best. Just like the zombie mall patrons in Dawn of the Dead, Jameson’s instinct take over and she’s right back out on that stripper pole. And the audience loves it. Loves it so much, in fact, that some of the other strippers are dying (get it?) to get zombiefied themselves, just to compete.
As much as the opening sequences worried me, the rest of the movie impressed. The scenes in the strip club actually look pretty great, the acting is solid (no Oscars will be given out, but still) and the zombies and gore — with the exception of a very few ill-advised CGI shots — are all top notch. But the real star of the show here is ol’ Freddy himself, Robert Englund.
Englund plays the owner of the strip club, a greed, slimy bastard who’s afraid to touch the strippers that he employs for fear of catching their germs. He encourages the zombification of his strippers because, hey, it’s bringing him in a ton of cash. Englund plays the role in such an over the top and hilarious way that it makes you wonder why he’s not given the opportunity to stretch his comedic muscles more these days. Between this and the amazing physical comedy that he exhibited in Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, I’d say that Englund is in the middle of some sorta comeback, if only he’d ever gone anywhere. Zombie Strippers belongs to him, and if you’re not already sold on the concept of a zombie attack on an illegal strip club, then Englund himself is more than worth the price of admission.
The finale of the film (in which unfortunately, the stupid soldiers from the beginning show up… but I guess somebody has to clean up the zombie mess) features one of the greatest fight scenes ever: Between Jenna Jameson’s zombified stripper, and a rival stripper, who’s also been recently turned. Imagine: two half-naked zombie strippers in a fight to the death (?) using weapons such as, naturally, a stripper pole being wielded like a bow staff. This scene might also include one of the strippers shooting the other with pool balls being projected from her zombie vagina.
I wasn’t expecting much, especially after those initial opening scenes of the movie but Zombie Strippers actually ended up being a fun hour and twenty minutes. Sure, they might have tried to throw a bit of social commentary into the political stuff at first, but eventually the filmmakers figured out that the only way someone’s going to give two craps about a movie featuring zombie strippers is if you make it fun. And that’s what they did. It’s no classic, but this movie’s way better than it had any right to be.
*The movie marks porn star Jenna Jameson’s first foray into “legitimate” filmmaking (I use the term loosely here, since the movie still is designed to showcase her hoo-has at every available moment — something she’s quite used to).