dvd review: ZOMBIE STRIPPERS

There are only two expectations when a film has the words “zombie” and “strippers” in the title. And those expectations are, quite simply, a ton of gut-churning gore effects and an equal amount of gratuitous nudity. Unfortunately, as the film Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! – Strippers vs. Zombies recently proved, it is possible to have a film with both zombies and strippers that fails miserably in delivering both the splatter effects and the nudity. Which is why I was somewhat apprehensive going into Zombie Strippers. The last thing I wanted to do was waste more of my time on a film that failed to deliver the most basic fundamentals that is promised in its title. Trick me once, shame on me, trick me twice, blah blah blah.

With the bar set fairly low, and expectations even lower than that, it wouldn’t have taken much to make Zombie Strippers a pleasant surprise. Delivering better effects and more nudity in the first thirty minutes than Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! – Strippers vs. Zombies offer in its entire runtime, Zombie Strippers quickly proved itself to be a better movie. But in all honesty, comparing Zombie Strippers to the similarly titled inferior movie, is not fair, because director Jay Lee’s film is so much better in so many ways, the only reasonable comparisons can be in the titles.

Set in the not to distant future, America has slipped even further into the toilet thanks to a Constitutional amendment that has kept Bush in office for four terms, and multiple wars being waged everywhere from Iraq to Canada. In an effort to turn things around, an evil corporation begins experimenting with bringing dead soldiers back to life, so they can keep fighting. Of course, as is apt to happen when reanimating the dead, the living corpses develop an insatiable hunger for live human flesh. But there is one odd thing about this zombie virus, it has a different effect on anyone with X-chromosomes, meaning women zombies are significantly different than their male counterparts. When a team of soldiers is sent in to clean up a zombie outbreak, one of their team is infected. The infected soldier, seeking refuge in an illegal strip club (all strip clubs are illegal in the future) in turn infects the hottest stripper at the Rhinoceros Club, the super sexy Kat (Jenna Jameson). For reasons that can’t be explained, Kat’s zombiefied blood-splattered stripping has a mesmerizing effect on the patrons at the club, who gleefully throw money her way, much to the delight of greedy club owner Ian Essco (Robert Englund). The other strippers soon become envious of the allure Kat has on the patrons, and soon they want to be zombie strippers as well, which of course means more blood will be shed as the girls get more and more hungry.

If the plot to Zombie Strippers sounds ridiculous and completely absurd, it is. But that is not necessarily a bad thing, as writer-director Jay Lee has really fashioned something of a reinterpretation of French playwright Eugène Ionesco’s absurdist play Rhinoceros. The fact that Lee has the audacity to retell Ionesco’s story with zombie strippers says something about him as a filmmaker, and earns him points for doing something most other aspiring horror directors would never thing to do—namely infusing a bit of intelligence into a silly bit of exploitative schlock.

Lee’s primarily successful attempt at being cleverer than most of the people who will bother to watch Zombies Strippers works because of his ability to deliver what people really want—violence and nudity. Taken purely as a horror comedy with tons of violence and naked women, Zombie Strippers delivers as much, if not more, than any fan of genre films could ever hope for. The fact that the film has a politically subversive humor and a guiding hand of intelligence behind all of the exploitation trappings is just a bonus.

In addition to pulling duty as writer and director, Lee also is cinematographer and editor of Zombie Strippers, proving himself a multiple talent capable of putting together an entertaining film. Lee surrounds himself with a capable cast and crew, most notably his special effects team and his cast of women who take their clothes off. Jenna Jameson gives a surprisingly solid performance as the lead zombie stripper, in a role that is equal parts sexy and creepy. Robert Englund also turns in a funny performance as the greedy club owner. But what’s nice is the fact that Jameson and Englund are not the stand-outs in the film, as the entire cast give performances far better than you those you usually find in films of this nature.

Let’s face it, if you’re the sort of person who’s going to watch a film called Zombie Strippers, there’s not much anyone can say from a critical standpoint that is going to keep you from your intent. And after a while, complaining about how bad so many horror films are—all the while knowing people are going to watch them anyway—it all gets a little disheartening. Thankfully, Zombie Strippers is worth recommending.

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