Zombie Strippers: it’s a title that can’t really go wrong. Like Snakes on a Plane or Epic Movie, it tells you everything you need to know in a few well-chosen words. There’s the obvious—this is a movie about strippers who also happen to zombies (or, if you prefer, zombies who also happen to be strippers). And then there’s what’s implied by such a gloriously up-front title. This is a movie that aims to give you one thing, and it’s gonna do it well.
It’s foolish to go into a movie like this expecting anything beyond B-level exploitation, but oddly enough, it’s the filmmakers who make that mistake here. The movie is riddled with not-so-subtle political jabs and shout-outs to famous philosophers, and the plot, no joke, is drawn from a famous French absurdist play about the dangers of conformity. Writer-director Jay Lee thinks he’s really smart, and he wants to make sure you know it too.
Luckily, the pseudo-philosophical leanings and weird attempts at allegory don’t really get in the way of the important part—the schlock. And they come together in a great way in the movie’s set-up. It’s the near future, and somehow Bush has been elected for a fourth term as president. The war in Iraq rages on, and since the Army has run out of soldiers, they’ve resorted to reanimating the dead to fight the war. But the zombie virus, of course, gets out of hand, and the elite “Z-Squad” is called in to fight off the undead. One of the soldiers is infected though, and somehow makes his way to a strip club called Rhino’s, where the clientele is boorish, the strippers are catty, and the zombie virus can roam free.
Robert Englund, a.k.a. Freddie Krueger, plays Ian, the club’s owner, and Jenna Jameson is surprisingly not awful as the star stripper, Kat. She’s the first to get bitten, and since the other girls in the club always aim to outdo her or be just like her, the zombie disease spreads quickly. A few strippers hold out but are outshone by the zombies, who apparently are even more attractive to the clientele even though their flesh is actually rotting.BR>
Ian and a few other employees decide not to do anything about the growing zombie population, since they can lock the bitten clients into a holding cell in the basement and the strippers, for some reason, continue doing their jobs even as they eat brains. Maybe it’s perfectly logical to the boys who love gore, but who knew that zombie strippers bring in even more money than the regular kind?
The play that the movie is trying to honor, Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, is about the danger of conforming when people around you are transforming into something ridiculous—in that case, rhinos, and in this case, zombies. Lee seems to be trying to come up with some allegory about what the zombies stand for, but it’s a little unclear what he’s going for. Do the Bush references mean that zombies stand for Republicans? Does the cattiness between the strippers mean that zombies stand for unattainable beauty standards?
But the confused politics are an easily ignorable part of a movie that’s generally fun and equal-opportunity offensive. It’s not as fast-paced or silly as it ought to be, mostly because Lee doesn’t really seem to know what he’s doing behind the camera. And the extended sequences of stripping will be great for the 15-year-old boys who will flock to this movie (or, more likely, rent it on DVD), but slow down the movie so much that you kind of forget about the zombies.
There are better zombie movies out there, and better stripper movies for that matter, but the combination of the two has a weird novelty appeal. Zombie Strippers will play in theatres for only one week before it goes on to have a guaranteed long life on DVD. I can hear the college kids now, smoking pot and telling each other, “No, for real, there’s a movie called Zombie Strippers, and Jenna Jameson’s in it and there’s tons of boobs!” And, despite attempts to be something more meaningful, that’s pretty much all Zombie Strippers is.