Film review by: Witney Seibold
“Zombie Strippers” is a bit cleverer than its title would have you believe, but not much cleverer. Rather than just having cheap gory thrills and gratuitous nudity, it deigns to throw in references to the existentialists. After that, though, it’s really jyst full of cheap gory thrills and gratuitous nudity.
It is the future, and George W. Bush has pretty much installed himself as an emperor and precipitated WWIII. Public nudity is illegal. The government has made a zombie virus (y’know, like they do) to, I dunno, make immortal soldiers or something. One infected person inevitably escapes the virus lab, and trails the zombie virus to a local illegal strip club run by a wicked germophobe named Ian Essko (get it? If you don’t, the club is called the Rhino. Get it now?). The star stripper Kat (porn superstar Jenna Jameson) is bitten and becomes a zombie. Turns out, though, that when women are infected, they can still talk and read, and being undead makes them better strippers. So Kat soon becomes a huge moneymaker for the Rhino, and it’s not long before the other girls are lining up to become zombies as well. I’m guessing zombie-ism in this film is a symbol for plastic surgery.
Genre-film legend Robert Englund plays Ian Essko, and he is a much funnier and more talented performer than I think he gets credit for. Even when he’s speaking stupid dialogue, he shows an enthusiasm for the material which is rare in horror movies. Roxy Saint, who plays a gloomy Goth stripper also seems to believe in her part. Otherwise, all the performances are pretty terrible across the board. Most of the stripper characters are played by real-life strippers or porn stars, and, as we all know, such occupations are not well-known for their thespian skills. Lines are leaden, accents are forced. In many instances the actors’ faces go completely blank when they’re done with their lines, like they’re trying really hard to remember when they need to speak. Jameson may be able to fake orgasms with the best of them, but is a long way from playing it straight.
About that existentialism: In a subplot, we have a young innocent teenage stripper (Jennifer Holland) who is undressing in public for the first time to raise money for her ailing grandmother. She is shy at first, but when she realizes that being a zombie will make her accepted and successful, she begins having to make some serious existential dilemmas. If being undead means talent and acceptance, who cares what the morals are? She gets into heated debates with a fellow stripper. Another stripper gets offended when accused of being an optimist. A zombie reads Nietzsche, and giggles that it makes more sense when you’re undead. The town where this all takes place is called Sartre, NE.
So writer/director Jay Lee has at least done his Philosophy 101 reading, and did try his darndest to make a film called “Zombie Strippers” smarter than it ought to be. I commend his efforts. At the end of the day, it’s still a cheap exploitation movie, but it did try. And I have to admit that the scene where Kat does her billiard ball trick during a zombie battle royale had me giggling rather a lot. I’m afraid I cannot explain the billiard ball trick to you; you must see it for yourself.