Monday, August 4, 2008


No one goes into a movie called ZOMBIE STRIPPERS expecting cinematic gold; of course, everyone has different definitions of a great movie, but I doubt even the most indiscriminate film buff would have THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI in mind. Plenty of female nudity, a sprinkling of gore, a few chuckles--you know exactly what you're getting, right? Yet even by these lowly standards director Jay Lee's 2008 alleged horror-comedy fails miserably. Now, I don't know if Lee assumed his title would simply write itself, or he just didn't have the money to do much with his premise; the film offers considerable evidence for each possibility.

After a brief prologue in which we learn about the near future of 2012 (and receive the few genuine laughs of the movie), we're treated to yet another top-secret project to create an invincible super-soldier (I keep telling you guys, these plots never work but does anyone listen?). Of course the situation goes bad, and it's up to a group of thinly-developed non-zombie soldiers to maintain control. In this opening Lee establishes what we'll have to sit through for the next ninety minutes: unimaginative humor, lackluster action that relies much too heavily on crude CGI, and an overall sense of apathy from everyone involved. (I also don't understand why we needed a detailed explanation of how the zombie virus works, since the rules are absolutely no different than a hundred others. Wouldn't the filmmakers realize anyone interested in something called ZOMBIE STRIPPERS already know this stuff?)

Anyway, one of the soldiers gets bitten and hides out in a skeevy strip joint run by Robert Englund (who apparently had a balloon mortgage on his house, or someone has pictures of him involving a goat and a bottle of Wesson oil) and features Jenna Jameson as the star attraction. It isn't long--though it sure feels like it--when Jenna ends up bitten herself, and spreads the virus among the other dancers. Soon the place is filled with whooping young guys eager to watch the blood-spattered zombie girls strut their stuff. (And comedy or not, here's where I gotta call bullshit. I've been to quite a few disreputable strip clubs and even at their drunkest these guys have zero interest in a Goth stripper, let alone one covered in blood.)

ZOMBIE STRIPPERS completely wastes its potential, shying away from anything amusingly twisted and instead shoveling out the same type of humor (the Russian madam prone to malaprops, the Nebraska farm girl fresh off the bus) that was old when vaudeville was alive; the film gamely tries to play with a few gross-out gags near the end, but I was already benumbed by the climactic battle between the humans and the zombies rife with godawful digital effects and lame LOONEY TUNES-style action that was so unfathomably stupid it's almost insulting. (But those of you who've always wanted to see Jenna Jameson shoot billiard balls from her vag--and we all knew it was just a matter of time, right?--might not be disappointed.) The story is inexcusably sluggish, so boring it actually makes a succession of nude women tedious, and mainly consists of a zombie stripper doing her thing, taking a guy backstage for a "lap dance," then eating him in a ridiculously over-the-top fashion. Lee toys with exploring the notion of jealousy and cattiness among dancers, but only as far as the next tit-shot or splash of gore, preferring to keep things as superficial as possible.

Slightly titillating at best, ZOMBIE STRIPPERS is of interest only to those who've never seen Jenna Jameson naked before (i.e., anyone under twelve). And amazingly enough, she's the best actor in the cast, though she's turned in stronger performances in her hardcore career. Englund, on the other hand, plays his character as a femme-phobic priss to such an annoying degree that I wonder if he was trying to get all of his scenes cut (an understandable notion). It's less fun than watching SHOWGIRLS on TBS.

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