Zombie Strippers

Dir: Jay Lee
Star: Jenna Jameson, Robert Englund, Shamron Moore, John Hawkes

Really, what do you think this is about? A military experiment goes awry, and an infected victim escapes into the building next door - which just happens to be an underground strip-club, 'Rhino', run by Ian Essko (Englund). Star dancer Kat (Jameson) is bitten on stage. Unable to go to the police because of the illegal nature of his operation, Essko locks the attacker in the basement, and discovers that rather than Kat dying, it actually enhances her abilities as an exotic dancer, and makes her even more popular than before, albeit while still having the traditional craving for human flesh. The other girls, jealous of Kat's increased popularity, are soom clamouring to be bitten, so they too can benefit from the 'improvements' death brings. However, this requires a steady stream of new customers, as much to feed the staff as maintain the profits. What's a sleazy businessman to do?

On one level, this is absolutely shallow, containing little more than the titular elements ("Hehehe... Titular..."), thus little more than a vehicle for copious female nudity in the first-half and some impressive, if occasionally a little too digital, gore during its later stages. However, it is supposedly - and I hope I'm stressing this enough - an adaptation of Eugène Ionesco's absurdist play Rhinoceros which, according to Wikipedia explored "themes of conformity, culture, mass movements, philosophy and morality." This explains the location of "Sartre", and the names of the club and its owner. Certainly, there are stabs at political satire here, as well as possible psycho-sexual commentary (its equating of both strippers and patrons with zombies is surprisingly feminist), and could even be seen as pro-necrophiliac, since sex-apppeal hear doesn't end when your pulse does. It's also likely the only entry in Jameson's filmography where she quotes Nietzche. Well, except for Up and Cummers 11, I suppose.

Does it all work? Absolutely not; for instance, the political references are so lamely-handled, they likely shouldn't have bothered. But I was thoroughly impressed that what seemed like (and, to be honest, largely is) a one-joke concept, managed to effortlessly hold my interest for its entire running time [though Chris's mileage certainly varied]. While Englund seems to phoning in his performance, as he has done in most roles since his last appearance as Freddie Krueger, Jameson is actually half-decent in the role, even if the amount of 'acting' is questionable, and the rest of the cast get their jobs done - we genuinely laughed as the insanely stereotypical Mexican stylings of Joey Medina as the club caretaker. A good deal more fun than I thought.

[October 2011]

Return of the loving dead
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