For all the hubbub that happened last year surrounding Grindhouse, few people who saw the film actually had been through an actual grindhouse experience. Exploitation films have never been of high quality, and Zombie Strippers is much closer to those than I think most Grindhouse movie fans would care to admit.
The big difference is that Zombie Strippers has an awareness of its own cheese factor, which is very similar to the Troma line. And in this respect, it’s about what you’d expect from a Troma release (even though Lloyd Kaufman has nothing to do with the movie). Still, it’s not nearly as clever and high rent as other zom coms like Fido and Shaun of the Dead.
The movie takes place in the not-so-distant future where the military has developed a virus to reanimate soldiers killed in battle. When there’s an outbreak, the virus infects a strip club and turns several strippers into zombies. However, the morbid fascination of the clientele leads them to put the zombie girls in high demand. However, the terror can only be contained for so long.
What gives Zombie Strippers its credibility, strangely enough, is the star power of Jenna Jameson. While Jameson has bridged the gap from porn to mainstream material (e.g., Howard Stern’s Private Parts and various E! Channel specials), this is her first starring role in a non-adult film.
The mainstream public has had a well-deserved fascination with Jameson. She jumped into the adult scene as a fresh-faced girl next door. After countless films, she is a hardened professional. She’s got more lines than when she started, and she’s had a lot of cosmetic work done. Now, she’s a veteran that talks straight and can no longer capture that wide-eyed look she became famous for.
This makes her perfect for the role of Kat, the seasoned stripper whose years are numbered. When Kat turns into a zombie, she embraces the change and has the sex appeal to make it work. (Although I have to admit that when the Goth fantasy deteriorates into a rotting corpse, I failed to see even the most morbid fascination with her.)
There’s definitely an audience out there for Zombie Strippers, but it is very limited. I wouldn’t exactly take your mother to the film (unless you have appeared one too many times on The Jerry Springer Show), but for a drunk night at the movies with some of your horror film fan friends, this movie is silly enough to be enjoyable.
There are plenty of flaws, but most of them can be put to rest when the filmmakers actually deliver with the nude scenes and graphic violence, although it’s odd to have half a cast of strippers refuse to get naked. Sure, there’s tons of bad dialogue, attempted jokes that fall flat and goofy plot twists. However, it’s nothing worse than what you’d expect from a traditional grindhouse experience.
In fact, my only major complaint with the film is with its pushy political message. Sociopolitical commentary is nothing new in zombie films. However, I’d prefer that it be delivered the way Romero intended, to be taken as a message if you choose and not have it rammed down your throat.
I understand that the filmmakers are not happy with the Iraq War, Bush and Cheney’s eight years in office and the general state of the American military. But do they really think that people are going to take away a message from a film where a zombie stripper kills another by shooting billiard balls out of her cooter?
Still, the bottom line remains with this film: If you like zombies, and you like strippers, you will love Zombie Strippers.
THE UPSIDE: With all the strippers, there’s bound to be plenty of naked girls.
THE DOWNSIDE: Gets way too preachy for such a ludicrous movie.
ON THE SIDE: I think I actually met one of these zombie strippers at a seedy club in Dayton, Ohio.