Sony // 2008 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // October 28th, 2008
(after a dead girl gets up off the floor to take off her clothes)
Cole: Hey, you think this is a good idea? I mean, wasn't that bitch dead a minute ago?
Ian: F -- k it. What's the worst that can happen?
Truly, this is simply your average zombie movie where a girl turns in to a monster and shoots pool balls from her private parts. The film is exactly what you expect when you see porn star Jenna Jameson (I Dream of Jenna) right next to horror legend Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street) on the marquee above the lurid title. I don't have much pity for anyone who is expecting anything more substantial than a third installment to Grindhouse or a sequel in spirit to From Dusk Till Dawn. Stupid and sexy as it wants to be, Zombie Strippers! is a "Z" grade horror film the right audience will have an absolute ball with. Surprisingly, it does have a brain to go with its mindless horror glee, but this is certainly the kind of film best enjoyed in a college dorm room with a cooling pizza on hand. In the commentary, Robert Englund even mentions this as the perfect way to watch the film!
In the not too distant alternate future, George Bush is still president after four terms, and he is fighting so many wars that the country is running out of soldiers. So the military scientists invent a virus that will reanimate the dead, and turn them in to fearless fighters the country can deploy to accomplish missions around the globe. Unfortunately, the virus is not perfected, and it gets out by accident through an infected soldier. "Typhoid John" ends up at an underground strip club called the Rhino where he infects their superstar headline stripper (Jameson). She dies, but somehow comes back as a better dancer and the men simply cheer and throw money down. Seems the virus thrives in women and makes you better at whatever you did in life before your death. The owner of the club (Englund) realizes the guys think deader is better and decides to just roll with it. Never mind the other strippers are deciding to convert so they too can follow the cold flesh fad, and the side effect is they are eating the customers. So now with a growing army of the undead stashed in the basement, the girls are going to party down and start giving lap dances George Romero-style.
As if all this naked gory mayhem wasn't enough, the movie is based on Rhinoceros, a French absurdist play by Eugene Ionesco that premiered in 1959. In the original text a town slowly one by one turns into rhinos save for one slacker character who seems unaffected. Zombie Strippers takes this meditation on conformity and lets undead strippers run with it. Director and writer Jay Lee (The Slaughter) weaves in as much philosophy and political satire as he can muster while still retaining the drive-in movie quality you would expect with a project like this. Some critics think trying to marry these elements with a film where pole dancers go cannibal is too much, but it adds a nice layer of smarts to the otherwise brain-dead proceedings. Not that there is too much more than just boobies and gore when you get right down to it.
Jenna Jameson plays a pretty mean zombie, and she does fine given that most of her experience is doing adult films. She doesn't get to play her character named Kat for long before she is turned. Truly all the script asks her to do is dance like a wild woman, show some flesh, and bite the willing. Oh yeah, and she gets to shoot pool balls out of her crotch. Robert Englund just looks like he's having a good time, and he doesn't do much other than act like a sleazy germ-a-phobe as the strip club's owner. Surprisingly he's not utilized much as anything other than a real-world bad guy, and his presence is just there to lure the curious in. Also featured is Roxy Saint who in real life is a goth singer, and here she gets to stretch as a goth stripper. Professional fighter Tito Ortiz (the main squeeze of Miss Jenna) clocks in seconds of screen time as the bouncer.
The DVD comes in two flavors: the rated theatrical cut and a more adventurous unrated version, which is also offered on BluRay. DVD Verdict was sent the R version approved by the MPAA, but I would suggest tracking down the fully uncut edition if this sounds like the movie for you. All editions are fully tricked out, and this rated one includes a commentary, deleted scenes, and two solid behind-the-scenes featurettes. The commentary track features director Jay Lee joined by three cast members including Jenna Jameson, Robert Englund, and comedian Joey Medina. They have a lively discussion about the making of the film, and how much fun they had with the genre piece. The featurettes take you behind the scenes, and they are brief but well thought out. There are a lot of deleted scenes that come with or without commentary. The transfer is surprisingly good, and the film looks well made and even handsome. Audio is a robust five channel mix that includes lots of the expected screams and heavy metal music. Sony certainly made this one a collector's edition, and any version you choose will have enough to satisfy even the most discerning undead naked girl fan.
How can you fault a film that delivers exactly what it promises? Zombie Strippers shows a lot of naked girls and a ton of zombies. For a low budget horror comedy it's not all that bad, and it goes to ridiculous places you would expect and some you won't see coming. There's an attempt to pump in some satire and political humor, but for the most part this one is all about exotic dancers who become undead and munch on customers. Think Showgirls if George Romero decided to remake it, and you'll be right on the money. The squeamish and the prude need not apply, because this one is all about the blood and boobs.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Commentary with Jenna Jameson, Robert Englund, Joey Medina and Director Jay Lee
* Deleted Scenes with Commentary
* Behind the Scenes Featurette
* Make-Up Featurette
* Official Site
* Jenna's MySpace Page
* Club Jenna