“Yeah. When she says ‘zombie,’ you say, ‘how dead?'”
The Scoop: 2008 R, directed by Jay Lee and starring Jenna Jameson, Robert Englund and Roxy Saint, which I’m positive is her real name
Tagline: They’ll Dance For A Fee, But Devour You For Free.
Summary Capsule: I really think this is one of those films where the name tells you everything you need to know.
Drew’s rating: When I was a teenager and it took ten minutes to download boobs on the Internet with a 75% chance of crashing, I would’ve killed for this movie. But just as I’m no longer a teenager…
Drew’s review: Even though I haven’t rented from them consistently in over a decade, I’m still a little sad to see Blockbuster go the way of dinosaurs, CDs, and Charlie Sheen’s sanity. But I’m grateful to the store near me for bestowing one final gift in its demise: knowledge that a movie called “Zombie Strippers” exists, and a copy.
In the near future, Dubya’s continued presidency has led to a complete ban on public nudity and involvement in a dozen wars, leading to critical troop shortages. The solution? Find a way to reanimate dead soldiers so they can keep fighting. Naturally this instead creates zombies, and when a commando squad is sent in to mop up, one of them is bitten. Knowing this means he’ll be summarily executed, Private Byrdflough (these are the jokes, folks) instead flees and stumbles into a secret underground strip club. If you guessed that he bites one of the strippers (Jenna Jameson), well, that’s kind of a gimme. But if you also guessed that she likes being a zombie, finds it makes her a better dancer, and all of her co-workers choose to become zombies themselves, well… that would impress me.
Here’s my main problem with Zombie Strippers: it should be so much more than what it is. As a schlocky horror/comedy, it’s… you know, it’s okay. But I want better than “okay” from Zombie Strippers — I want a really clever, funny, tongue-in-cheek romp. I want another Evil Dead 2 or Shaun of the Dead, and it clearly wants to be Grindhouse.
Instead we get Scary Movie 3. Yes, you’ll see plenty of boobs (most fake, some real). But there’s nothing in this film you can’t find in five seconds of googling, so it’d better be really entertaining… and it isn’t. For instance, a huge amount of time is spent mocking the Bush administration. Fine — except ZS was released in spring 2008. I’m not Dubya’s biggest fan, but I’m pretty sure by that point every single joke had been exhausted and we were gearing up for the new guy. Not that it matters, since the potshots are so painfully unsubtle that not even the staunchest liberal would find them funny. I have a lesbian friend who got arrested protesting for better wages for our largely immigrant janitorial staff, and she would walk out of this movie saying, “You know, those Bush jokes were just lame.”
The actors are uniformly terrible. I’m sure the filmmakers would say that’s on purpose — it’s intentionally bad acting, you know — but after one or two scenes, that ceases to be amusing. It’s like that one joke per episode of Family Guy that runs on way too long. (Acknowledging something is not funny does not make it funny, Seth.) Likewise putting the female scientist in an open lab coat with tatas spilling out all over the place… we get it, no real female scientist except Lissa would dress like that. Still not hilarious.
Zombie Strippers does do some things right. Not to sound like a pig, but it was smart to include plenty of nudity: the only thing worse than an exploitative movie is an exploitative movie that pusses out by putting everyone in bikinis. Likewise, I’m glad they didn’t bother trying to explain why being a zombie would make one a better stripper. There are even hints of Evil Dead-itude, like the guy who reanimates as a disembodied zombie head, and the ridiculously self-aware climax (no pun intended) almost saves the movie… but doesn’t quite, and the endless philosophical rambling is probably meant to be funny but gets real old, real fast. The tragedy is that this could’ve been a fantastic B-movie, but it’s hard to tell what stupid elements are intentional versus which are accidental, and I’m not willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
There’s a quote on the DVD box from geek goddess Carrie Keagan, proclaiming that ZS is “So hot, it hurts.” I don’t watch Attack of the Show!, but I have seen those skits with her as Power Girl. There’s no question Keagan is hot, but I’m not convinced she knows hot. Because Zombie Strippers? Not hot. It’s a shame- the concept is campy fun, and some clever writing and dialogue could’ve turned it into a low-budget cult classic. (Quick, name me a movie with a better title. Trick question- you can’t. Doesn’t exist.) As is, it’s just an excuse to watch silicone bounce for 94 minutes and to be able to tell your friends you’ve seen Zombie Strippers. You may be willing to take that hit, since they’ll inevitably be jealous and crown you King of the Nerds. But if you go in expecting a cult gem, you’ll only be disappointed.
- The strip club’s name, Rhino, and Robert Englund’s character (Ian Essko) are references to the Eugène Ionesco play Rhinoceros, which Zombie Strippers claims to be loosely adapted from. In a communism metaphor, the inhabitants of a small town begin turning into rhinos, except for one main character who refuses to join them. I’d like to praise ZS‘s filmmakers for this, but between that and the town of Sartre, Nebraska, it’s clear they used up all of their cleverness on obscure literary/theatre references, whereas I really think they needed to spread it more evenly throughout the movie.
- I’m no lawyer, but isn’t public nudity illegal NOW? The reason strip clubs can exist is because they’re private businesses with specific licenses that they pay for. There’s no reason why banning public nudity would force strip clubs to “go dark.” I mean, any more than they already are.
- A great example of the dearth of humor in this movie: the beginning features a fake news report, complete with news scroll. This would be a great place for some really funny Onion-style one liners. What do we get instead? “Rolling Stones Announce Steel Wheelchair ‘Retirement Tour II'” and a Brangelina reference. Really burned the midnight oil crafting those, huh guys?
- The “soldiers killing zombies” scene DOES look like it was shot during a particularly bitchin’ game of laser tag, I’ll give them that.
- The most unbelievable part of this movie is how many hot women are working the day shift at a strip club.
- At one point, Jenna Jameson’s character can be seen reading and quoting Nietzsche. Nice try, Jenna, but I’m pretty sure Asia Carrera is the only genius porn star.
- Remember how I said Carrie Keagan provided a (unmerited) positive quote on the box? Yeah, they spell her name wrong, as “Keagen.” That’s embarrassing.
Narrator: George W. Bush has won his fourth consecutive term as president, taking Florida, which due to a glitch in the Jeb B. voting terminals tallied one single vote for President Bush and Vice President Schwarzenegger. Bush’s presidency was unanimously declared legally binding by the Supreme Court as well as “totally cool” by Supreme Justice Jenna Bush, who subsequently set in motion another Supreme Kegger. Following the landslide victory, a constitutional amendment banning public nudity was implemented. Shortly thereafter, President Bush dissolved Congress, claiming it was “cramping his style.” American troops continue to be strung thin due to the still raging wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Venezuela, France, Canada, and Alaska.
Camus: We just stopped that thing, what was it called again, Lieutenant?
Ryker: Armageddon, sir.
Camus: That’s the one. Lieutenant Ryker here killed Satan himself with a sharp stick. Good work, soldier!
Dr. Chushfeld: The good news is, the test subjects in there are not trained soldiers, but poor lost unfortunates who’ve had no other choice but to sell themselves for scientific experiments: homeless, illegal immigrants, the American middle class.
Boob Scientist: The virus is based on the human X chromosome, so it stays more pure from woman to woman. But once you get a man in there, like everything else, it all goes to $#*%.
Kwan: Sir, orders from comstat base.
Camus: The memo reads, “Osama to attack within the United States.”
Byrdflough: Wait, what does that mean?
Sassy Sue: It’s code. It means we’ve been warned of the dangers, but better to ignore the problem and it’s just bound to go away.
Davis: I know we’re Christians, and what you’re doing is a sin, but the intent is… well, Christ-like, you sacrificing yourself and all. So, what are morals? Does the ends justify the means? But then again the road to hell is paved with good intentions, so… darn, I’m out of cliches.
Lillith: How does it feel?
Kat: Great. I’ve never felt more alive.
Gaia: Oh, sweet irony!
Jeannie: Kat says jump and you grovel, begging her to tell you how high.
Gaia: Yeah. When she says “zombie,” you say, “how dead?”
Blavatski: Actually, there’s more. Kat eat nice boy. But leftovers still alive!
Jeannie: Warriors, come out to play!
If you liked this movie, try these:
- Shaun of the Dead
- From Dusk Till Dawn