City Paper is not for tourists
Dead bodies may rot, but fake boobs are forever. That’s the gist of Zombie Strippers, a schlockfest whose title pretty much says it all. Lovers of such camp no doubt believe that brilliant ideas were bouncing around like so many pussy-launched pingpong balls when Jenna Jameson’s latest foray into nonspank cinema was conceived. Alas, writer-director Jay Lee instead delivers a B movie that barely rates a double-D.
One of Zombie Strippers’ most egregious sins is that, for all its moments of titillation, it’s simply a bore. (That’s not surprising: What Jameson vehicle was intended to be watched in its entirety?) Perhaps worst, though, is that Lee seems to think it’s all very smart. Every zombie flick must have its message, I suppose, and this film has a couple. In an unspecified time in the future, the strip club where Kat (Jameson) is the star and Robert Englund is the very weird boss is infested with a virus created by the government, a strategy to reanimate dead soldiers now that George Bush is on his fourth term and the United States is at war with half the world. The president and his veep have also self-branded the companies W Industries and CheneyCo. Burn! (It didn’t seem possible that filmic foreign-policy criticism could be lamer than Southland Tales’, but there you go.)
Also, there’s a lot of philosophical talk going on. You heard that right: Kat, the club’s main attraction, reads Nietzsche in the dressing room. Fellow dancers discuss the meaning of life. It’s all ridiculous, especially considering the terrible, terrible acting by no-names such as Jennifer Holland, Jeannette Sousa, Roxy Saint, and Carmit Levité, who plays a Vampira-accented madame. Somewhat mercifully, however, there’s not as much acting as there is stripping. Before and after an undead military man stumbles into the place, the girls work the pole. And when Kat and a couple of others turn into flesh-eaters themselves, their jobs are hardly at risk. Instead, they become super-strippers, giving the performances of their, uh, lives and lathering the patrons into ultimately fatal frenzies.
The idea is easy enough to go along with when the dancers are merely blood-covered Energizer Barbies. But then they start to decay. And the crowd still goes wild. And now the film’s sole point of interest—flagrant nakedness, to be clear—goes the way of the truly live nude girls’ tips as the visuals become gross and the logic faulty even by horror-movie standards.
Lee attempts humor, too, in a kind of equal-opportunity-offender kind of way, but instead he just offends. A Mexican janitor played by Joey Medina is a particularly unfortunate victim of this, ending up in scenes with sombreros and mules. At one point, when he asks if he has to clean up a blood-soaked room, Englund’s character points to the custodian’s skin and asks, “What color is that?” Englund—better known as A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger—is embarrassing here as well, his club owner partly flamboyant, partly asshole, and entirely unlikable either way.
The special effects, at least, are decent (though a few dancers’ warp-speed spins on the pole add a level of cartoonishness this movie certainly doesn’t need), and there is one funny scene in which the story’s villain is shown in flashbacks as he describes stealing the virus. But Zombie Strippers’ badness is so pervasive it will irritate you instead of making you laugh, and there are zero scares—unless you count close-ups of Jameson’s surgery-mutated face.