Judge Gordon Sullivan goes to the day-old baked goods shop. It's safer, not just cheaper.
First they dance…then they kill
There is nothing wrong with doing what the Brits call "taking the piss" out of serious genres. Some of the greatest comedies of all time have come from treating genre conventions humorously. However, a low-budget parody of a successful genre comedy, that's another thing entirely. Unlike other zombie comedies that take a humorous look at zombie flick conventions (like Shaun of the Dead), Stripperland! is essentially a remake of Zombieland, but with zombie strippers instead of just regular ol' zombies. As a result, the film feels utterly inconsequential, reduced to repeating gags from another (better) film with only the occasional cameo to make the film interesting.
A mysterious plague has descended on the nation, turning dead women in into strippers who only want to feast on male flesh. In this post-apocalyptic wasteland walks Idaho (Ben Sheppard), a geek who survives by following a set of rules. Early in the film he hooks up with Frisco (Jamsion Challen), another traveler who's obsessed with fresh baked goods. The pair then encounter a pair of women heading to Portland (a.k.a. Stripperland), who entice the gentlemen to join them with promises of fresh baked goods. We watch as the group heads west to the coast, encountering numerous undead along the way.
The great tragedy of Stripperland! is that it could have been a really great film. The idea of the undead (strippers or not) laying waste to the country while a small group rides the roads is a sound one. The actors play their roles effectively, especially for a low-budget horror/comedy. The gore effects are top-notch, with a decent mix of digital and practical grue hitting the screen at regular intervals. The only problem is, Zombieland beat them to it. Oh, and Zombieland just happened to be one of the better horror comedies of all time.
That leaves Stripperland! as an unofficial remake, essentially. Aside from a few humorous additions (mostly in the form of cameos), Stripperland! follows Zombieland's template. I guess it's a parody because the zombies this time are strippers (and as one character rather painfully points out, that's ironic because it's a male fantasy to have a country full of strippers, but in this case they're strippers who kill). Thus, viewers have little to do except look for differences between Stripperland! and its better (like the fact that Stripperland! uses state names instead of city names for its characters, Frisco excepted), or note the occasional nod to other zombie films (like a painful "I'm coming to get you, Barbara" rehash and a retooling of Dawn of the Dead's famous tagline to include stripper poles instead of hell).
At least everyone involved gave it their all, as demonstrated by this DVD. The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer looks about as good as a film of this budget can, with decent black levels and solid color saturation. It's a little rough around the edges, but totally watchable. The audio track does a fine job keeping dialogue clear and well balanced with the largely-metal soundtrack. Extras are impressively extensive. They start with a pair of commentary tracks. The first includes director Sean Skelling, writer Ben McCray, and editor David Wester, while the second include the effects team of Christina Kortum and Austen Healy. Everyone seems happy with their work on the film, and Skelling is especially effusive in discussing his baby. The effects team does a great job of giving peek at the creation of the numerous effects shots throughout the film. Then comes a trio of featurettes that cover the effects, the cast, and the cameos from Stripperland! These includes interviews supplemented with behind the scenes footage. Then there are 9 minutes of deleted scenes and a blooper reel. Then we're treated to a pair of music videos, one from a band on the soundtrack and another of Daniel Baldwin rapping in character.
There are a few reasons to watch Stripperland! If you have an irrational hatred of Woody Harrelson and/or Jesse Eisenberg, then watching Stripperland! might be an acceptable substitute. For a low-budget film, Stripperland! has an impressive number of women in hot pants and/or naked to its credit, for those looking for a little nudity with their zombie. Finally, the cameos can be genuinely amusing. I especially enjoyed Lloyd Kaufman's, but Daniel Baldwin and Linnea Quigley also earn their paychecks.
Stripperland! might have just enough blood and breasts to warrant a rental for low-budget horror-comedy fans, though there's no way it can stack up to its namesake. The extras, however, are really impressive and that makes Stripperland! a slightly more tempting package.
Despite reanimating a well-done concept, Stripperland is not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: MVD Visual
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