Starring: Jenna Jameson, Robert Englund, Roxy Saint, Joey Medina, Shamron Moore, Penny Drake. Rated R.
Zombie Strippers has
been billed as the mainstream debut of Jenna Jameson, whose past credits
include I Love Lesbians 10 and Dirty
Bob’s Xcellent Adventures 35, but the
difference between her latest work and the hardcore pornography that made her
famous is not nearly as pronounced as one might expect. Strippers is
rated R, a compelling testament to the notion
that sex in films is far more offensive to America’s Motion Pictures
Association than even the most explicit violence, but in almost every other
respect, it is as narratively unsophisticated as the bulk of Jameson’s past
The concept is as simple as the title might suggest. Set in
a not-too-distant future when George W. Bush is serving out his fourth term in
the White House and developing biological agents capable of reanimating the
dead, director Jay Lee’s story takes place almost exclusively inside a rural
Nebraska strip club presided over by a sufficiently sleazed-up Robert Englund (A
Nightmare on Elm Street), who wields a
bottle of disinfectant just in case he brushes up against one of his girls.
Once the club is hit with a wave of the zombie virus, Jameson and her fellow
dancers keep the shows rolling with renewed zeal, literally devouring their
clientele during a series of lapdances that double as orgiastic bloodbaths.
Lee’s political satire is often sharp and amusing, as
America barrels belligerently into the future with guns blazing, and the
implication is clear – if the murderous zombies in the strip club don’t get
you, the ones in Washington will. But as unabashedly campy horror inspired by
the grisly grindhouse fare of the 1960s and ’70s, it lacks the subversive sense
of imagination that informed Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof and Robert Rodriguez’s
Planet Terror. For fans of large, fake breasts doused in rivers of
blood, it might prove a welcome distraction, but too much of Zombie
Strippers feels like
exploitative voyeurism in search of a good reason to exist.
As for Jameson? Her acting is no more or less competent than
the rest of the cast’s, which is rounded out by self-described Queen of the
Underground Roxy Saint and onetime Playboy model Penny Drake. But acting is
hardly of great consequence in a movie where everyone involved seems a little
too in on the joke, as if distancing themselves from material that would simply
be vile if it weren’t so outrageously over the top.