Well Go USA // 2012 // 93 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // September 23rd, 2012
Stripping Has Never Been So Hairy!
History will show that the early part of the twenty-first century saw a spike in the number of "versus" movies released, both in Hollywood and around the world. Titles such as Alien vs. Predator helped start the trend, with the likes of Aliens vs. Ninjas, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, and Monsters vs. Aliens following in its wake. Hell, in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, our eponymous hero took on the entire world! Well, that's if by the entire world, you mean six dudes and a girl.
While we wait for the next wave of versus movies, with Cockneys vs. Zombies and Dinosaurs vs. Aliens still to make their entrance, we have in our midst a showdown man has long pondered the outcome of: Strippers vs. Werewolves.
When Justice (Adele Silva), a stripper at "The Silvadollaz" strip club, kills a hirsute punter (Martin Kemp, The Krays) who had become aggressive towards her, she unwittingly puts the lives of everyone she knows at risk. What Justice didn't know was that the punter, Mickey, was a member of a vicious gang of werewolves who don't take too kindly to her actions.
Led by alpha wolf Ferris (Billy Murray), the bloodthirsty lycanthropes scour London for those responsible for Mickey's death, eventually arriving at the strip club for a final showdown that will pit strippers against werewolves.
Strippers vs. Werewolves needed only to do two things: provide a healthy dollop of blood, bullets, and boobs, and be fun. While the film may have just about have met the former criteria, it is desperately lacking the latter.
Truth be told, I knew deep down that director Jonathan Gledening's horror-comedy was going to be a stinker from the moment I first laid eyes on its trailer, but Lord help me I'm an optimist, eternally on the lookout for the next cult gem. Had I not been assigned this DVD for review, I have absolutely no doubt it would have ended up in my collection anyway. My only hope now is that I can at least persuade one like-minded individual to reconsider before parting with their hard-earned money.
There's a very good reason so few high-concept movies with enticing titles actually work. Put simply, beyond an attention-grabbing moniker, very few of these films have the benefit of a solid screenplay behind them. Despite what I am sure were only the best intentions, writers Pat Higgins and Philip Baron fail to include one standout moment or a single line of memorable dialogue throughout the film's 93-minute running time, leaving it to rely instead on special effects and a handful of surprise cameos to make any impact. During the action-light second act, the film slows to a virtual standstill, as attempts to flesh out the characters prove to be a major misstep. The film is littered with poor humor that ranges from werewolves being shot in the nards, to lame jokes ("She had such lovely legs...have you found the other one"?). The most disappointing aspect of the movie is its total refusal to innovate, preferring instead to present itself as a cartoon-like homage to the grindhouse (not to mention its numerous nods to The Monster Squad). Where similar projects, most notably Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror, used the grindhouse concept as a springboard for insanely entertaining flicks, Strippers vs. Werewolves is found in need of ideas to justify its attention-grabbing title.
When the time comes for action, Strippers vs. Werewolves truly lacks bite. The film's finale, which one would hope would at least try and deliver From Dusk Till Dawn-style carnage instead plays out more like a mild playground scrap. There's no sense of urgency to the climactic battle, and with such meager numbers (it all boils down to four strippers versus five werewolves) there simply isn't even the potential for the bloodbath the film so desperately needed, and seemed to promise.
Director Jonathan Gledening is guilty of overusing flashy -- not to mention borderline garish -- montages far too often, with the opening five minutes or so being a prime example of this as it offers a sub-Guy Ritchie (Snatch)-style introduction to the main players. It's not uncommon for these montages to become overly busy, as Gledening fills the screen with multiple shots simultaneously that more often than not confuse rather than dazzle. Talking of confusing, the film's editing leaves much to be desired, with several scenes during the second act seeming to blur into one. As already stated: sloppy editing is the least of the second acts problems.
The film's cast is made up of numerous faces from British soaps, with none really all that convincing in their roles. Billy Murray brings some much-needed gravitas to the role of alpha wolf Ferris, while Steven Berkoff (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is wasted in a short cameo, as is horror legend Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street). Despite its attempts to portray strong female leads, only Sarah Douglas (Superman II) as feisty Jeanette is a success, thanks in no small part to the quality Douglas brings to the role that only serves to highlight some of her younger accomplices' shortcomings further. Of the younger members of the cast, only Ali Bastian and Barbara Nedeljakova (Hostel) come out of Strippers vs. Werewolves with any credit. The film's standout performance comes from Simon Philips (who also produced the film) as part-time vampire hunter Sinclair. Philips shows good comic timing, and his delivery helps earn the film one or two laughs it would otherwise have lacked.
Released on DVD by Well Go USA, Strippers vs. Werewolves at least looks presentable. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is extremely sharp, with excellent black levels and vibrant colors. The Dolby 5.1 surround mix features clear dialogue, with individual effects easily discernable, while the numerous pop songs that make up the soundtrack make good use of the bass.
Producers Jonathan Sothcott and Simon Philips join forces for an audio commentary track, while the "Strippers vs. Werewolves: Undressed" featurette sees numerous members of the cast and crew discuss their involvement in the film.
As disappointed as I am by its failures, I can only imagine the devastation that will be felt by fourteen-year-old boys who bust their asses mowing lawns and doing household chores so that they may save up enough money to buy Strippers vs. Werewolves, only to be greeted by this whimpering turd of a film. The movie wastes a good title and a semi-decent premise, sapping the fun out of seeing scantily clad ladies totting shotguns. That, for me, is simply unforgivable.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Well Go USA
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated