Zombie Strippers picks up somewhere knee-deep in George W. Bush's fourth term as president. Having waged war on most of the free world -- and hell, a fist-sized chunk of the not-so-free world -- America's running low on fresh bodies to shove out onto the battlefield.
Who gets a bite chomped out of her throat first...? That'd be Kat (Jenna Jameson), the star attraction at The Rhino. The crowd went batshit over her when she was alive, and...well, they're throwing even more money at her now that she's undead and still writhing around on the main stage. 'Course, she's a soulless zombie and all, so she still can't help grabbing some schlub out of the audience and chowing down. The management (Robert Englund) doesn't mind so much; a zombie stripper's such a draw that Kat will bring in a hell of a lot more of a crowd than she could ever gobble up, and he can always cram her undead leftovers in the leopard cage downstairs. Kat gets so
Okay, okay, for a movie that takes its cues from a Eugène Ionesco play and chucks out some kinda-sorta veiled nod to French existentialism every couple of minutes, Zombie Strippers is pretty fucking dumb. That's okay, though. It got the memo that the title of the movie is...y'know, Zombie Strippers, and it's every bit as ridiculously campy, gory, and nekkid as that sounds. Zombie Strippers kind of just settles for stupid, campy fun. What it aims for, it does pretty well, but there's really not much of a stab at actual horror in here -- nothing tense or finger-wagglingly scary -- and its sense of humor misfires a whole hell of a lot. I'll admit that the kinda stereotypical jabs at Hispanics that are aimed at Paco (Joey Medina) -- from nods to Treasure of the Sierra Madre (along with a gag nicked from UHF) to him carrying around a leaf-blower for what-the-hell-ever reason -- were so over-the-top that they continually got a laugh out of me, and the likeable cast carries off the comedy about as well as anyone really could. Jeannette Sousa is a knockout, by the way. I'd give the movie an extra star just for putting her on the payroll.
There's enough nudity to give Joe Bob Briggs an aneurysm if he were to take a stab at tallying up the Drive-In Totals. Jenna Jameson's in particular is topless for pretty much the entire movie, and she's halfway there with something clinging and flimsy when she's not spinning around on the pole. What else are we lookin' at? Cock chomping. Head stomping. Ripping one putz's head clean open and yanking out his tongue. A little off-screen girl-on-girl zombie action (I'd probably get in trouble if I were to make an "eating out" joke, though). Yanking off the top of one guy's skull to get to the chewy center of that Tootsie Pop. Tearing off one dude's arm and whacking another stripper with it. Punching a hole in one zombie and watching her innards gush out. A zombie stripper catfight that takes the old ping-pong trick gag from the South Park movie in a kinda hysterically fucked-up direction. One undead dancer, already having chucked off all of her clothes, winds up having her most of flesh stripped off too. Mowin' one of the undead dancers down into tiny, Fun-Sized Baby Ruth chunks with a machine gun. A whole helluva lot of exploding heads. Zombie Strippers definitely doesn't skimp on the red stuff, especially in this unrated cut of the flick. The CG splatter looks kinda low-rent, but some of the make-up effects are really great.
So...yeah. I didn't really need to scribble down all that: just saying "Zombie Strippers" probably would've covered it. Nah, it's not gonna redefine the way you look at cinema or whatever, it's not better than Cats, but there are a whole hell of a lot of zombies and strippers, and that's gotta count for something.
Video: Zombie Strippers was shot on HD video, so this direct digital transfer is about as perfect as this movie's ever gonna look. These cameras aren't exactly on the bleeding edge end of things, and the quick-'n-dirty shoot didn't leave time to spend hours meticulously lighting each and every shot. This leaves the image looking kinda noisy under lower light, and black levels aren't consistently all that punchy. Zombie Strippers still looks pretty slick in high-def, though. The
Audio: Zombie Strippers is packing lossless audio -- yup, we're lookin' at another Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track -- but it's kind of underwhelming. This seems to be where the flick took the biggest hit from not having fistfuls of cash to throw at the screen. The mix has a really trebly, brittle sound to it. The score rumbles from the subwoofer, but that's about it for the low-end, with even the bursts of gunfire sounding kinda flat and lifeless. The sound design gets pretty aggressive during the attacks, with the surrounds belting out sprays of gunfire, flesh being gnawed on and ripped apart, and the moans of legions of the undead. The rears also flesh out the sound of a pretty rowdy crowd and the cock-rock that's blaring during the strip numbers, although the surround channels clam up when someone's not writhing around on the main stage or squaring off against a bunch of zombies. There's no real presence or punch to the dialogue either. This is the sort of thing I could review by just shrugging. It's listenable but pretty mediocre.
There's also a TrueHD 5.1 dub in Portuguese alongside Dolby Digital tracks in French and Spanish. The long list of subtitles includes streams in English (traditional and SDH), French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Indonesian.
Extras: Writer/director Jay Lee, Jenna Jameson, Robert Englund, and Joey Medina pile into the recording booth for a pretty great audio commentary. It's kinda just laid-back and quippy, even laughing at one point about the idea of recording a commentary track for a titty-slash-zombie flick...y'know, considering the target demo and all. It's a lot of fun, though, with chatter about prosthetic nipples, an apology for one missing visual effect, raiding Corn Nuts and Cheetos off the craft services table as shrapnel for one rampage, and lotsa references to -- and one laugh-out-loud brilliant joke about -- Jameson's background as a porn goddess. I dug it.
Lee, Englund, and, briefly, Medina also toss out audio commentary for forty minutes' worth of deleted scenes. The commentary here is a lot drier and more serious than the track that plays over the movie, though. A lot of this footage just tacks some additional bits onto scenes already in the movie: some more stabs at characterization, a few more jokes, a little more splatter, and...hey, more stripping! Some of the highlights include a chase around the room with a carnivorous severed head, a lightly surreal stripper-nightmare, more jabs at Dick Cheney and Haliburton's tragedy-profiteering, a Predator spoof, and a couple of additional kills that would've made a pretty big impact on the last few minutes on the movie.
Also included are two short featurettes. "The Champagne Room: Behind the Scenes of Zombie Strippers" (8 min.) runs through how the idea for the movie started off as a joke, settling from there into the shoot in an abandoned -- and haunted! -- V.A. hospital. "The Champagne Room" touches on the many nods to French existentialism -- particularly "Rhinoceros" -- along with the movie's political undertones and Jenna Jameson's formal background as a dancer. The disc's other featurette is "The Dressing Room: How to Glam a Zombie" (5 min.), a very brief, 20,000 foot overview of the movie's intricate make-up effects work. There are several really outstanding effects in the movie, and it's kind of a drag that this featurette doesn't really delve into them in any real detail.
The only high definition extras are plugs for other Sony Blu-ray discs. Zombie Strippers is packing some BD Live functionality, so maybe there'll be more extras online at some point down the road. Fingers crossed, right?
Conclusion: Zombie Strippers is exactly the movie you think it is: relentlessly campy, sopping with syrupy red stage blood, and pretty much nothing but jiggling titties and barrel drums of splatter for an hour and a half straight. Yeah, a lot of the humor falls flat, and there's really not much of a stab at creeping out the audience the way better horror-slash-comedies like Slither and Shaun of the Dead still managed to do every once in a while, but Zombie Strippers churns out enough dumb fun to be worth a rental.