PLOT: A secret government facility is the scene of a deadly "chemo-virus" outbreak, enabling the dead to become hungry monsters... Since apparently the lab is in the same building as "Rhino's," a sleazy strip club, it's Dead Babes Dancing before too long. And they still know how to get their groove on!
REVIEW: Let's face it: A movie called ZOMBIE STRIPPERS isn't exactly going to attempt to be deeply metaphorical and politically relevant. Wait, scratch that, that exactly what ZOMBIE STRIPPERS attempts. This is a movie that takes place in Sartre, Nebraska -and has a character quoting Nietzsche in one scene, while in another she's firing deadly ping-pong balls from her hoo-haa... If you like your cheesy gorefests to frequently wax pseudo-intellectual about warfare and class, then well, ZOMBIE STRIPPERS is for you.
Right off the bat we're treated to the movie's subversive wit (and conscience), with a news program telling us that now in his FOURTH consecutive term as President, George W. Bush has declared war on pretty much every country out there - and even our own Alaska. This of course leads to a pretty significant troop shortage, so the obvious thing to do is create virus that'll reanimate the corpses of soldiers and send them back into battle, yeah? Well, this is only a bad idea because almost immediately the virus goes haywire and a secret lab is filled with zombies...
A ragtag group of soldiers is sent in to contain the virus, and the movie quickly begins to settle into familiar territory, complete with lots of machine gun fire and shambling dead dudes. One of the squad is bitten and takes off, finding solace in, yes, a strip club and then the usual happens: A stripper is bitten, becomes a hideous flesh-eater and, more importantly, an even better stripper! The club's owner sees that this is profitable (for some reason - it's never really explained WHY the customers dig deceased pole-dancing so much), and soon enough, all the girls are following suite... The good times can't keep rolling forever though...
I wouldn't have guessed it myself, but the press notes I read before the film explained that ZOMBIE STRIPPERS is based on Eugene Ionesco's 1959 allegorical play RHINOCEROS - or at least, it's inspired by it the same way BARB WIRE was inspired by CASABLANCA (watch them back to back if you don't believe me). I can't say if director Jay Lee set out with this intention, or if somewhere along the line he figured a story about strippers WANTING to turn into zombies because it makes them more money was a metaphorical goldmine. Either way, he has a fun time mixing sleaze with existentialism, having characters who look like the couldn't read the funny pages spout long, philosophical passages about conformity and the like. Or sometimes they'll just dish out a gem like the following: “That chick’s as cold as the dead flesh of a stripping zombie.” That's what I always say!
Lee's got a knack for weird little lines like that, and most of them are given to Robert Englund, as the club's germophobic owner. Englund is in full hammy-sissy mode here (a favorite of his when he's not the growling villain), waving around a bottle of antiseptic and smirking with all the subtlety of a cartoon character. It's an entertaining performance, one that his hardcore fans will eat up. He gets some good support from a few quirky sidekicks, like Madame Blavatski (named after the real Madame Blavatsky of the Theosophical Society, natch), played by Carmit Levité with the (intentionally?) worst Eastern European accent this side of Balki Bartokomous. There's also Paco, the Mexican janitor who has maybe the funniest scene, one involving a donkey... (Get those dirty thoughts our of your head, it's not like that.)
But how's Jenna Jameson? As the Alpha-stripper Kat, Jameson is actually pretty good, or at least respectable. Look, the girl's been in over 100 "movies," she can perform a line-reading without embarrassing herself. When she turns into a "zombie stripper," she's actually quite creepy, and unafraid to let the make-up guys completely distort her beautiful features. Dare I say it, it's almost a "brave" performance. At least for someone who's best known for UP AND CUMMERS 20 (made part 19 look like shite, by the way).
Unfortunately the movies's snappy rhythm goes of the rails in the final scenes, thanks to sloppy editing and the unwelcome reemergence of the obnoxious army characters, making it a noisy and repetitive last act. The capper is some more over-the-top political cynicism, but at that point it's a little too late for much deep thinking when we've just watched a chick shove a billiard ball in - well, I'll skip that part... Overall, the production is admirably silly, and while not nearly as graceful in its soapboxing as early Romero, it's actually got a brain working inside its wacky little head. It's a nice try, not completely successful, but I'll give it a "high" rating for guts. Lots and lots of guts... Rating: 7/10