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Zombie Strippers

Say this for Zombie Strippers: It delivers on its title. No one can complain that there's a shortage of strippers or zombies here, or zombie-stripper hybrids that make ordinary strippers and zombies look like the dead-eyed husks of popular imagination. Yet in the not-so-grand tradition of other straight-to-video/late-night-cable T&A-fests;, the trouble with Zombie Strippers is that it doesn't come about its exploitation honestly. The film's devotion to smug, self-conscious camp lets the audience know early and often that the filmmakers and actors are in on the joke, and that they aren't mindless purveyors of boobs and blood. That above-it-all attitude isn't convincing, and what's more, it saps any fun or cheap titillation that might have been had from this dreary enterprise.

In a reference that should gratify existentialist wankers the world over, the action takes place in Sartre, Nebraska, a rural outpost big enough to host a secret government lab and an illegal low-rent strip club. The satirical opening adds the obligatory layer of social commentary: It's President Bush's fourth term in office—thanks to a Supreme Court that includes his daughter Jenna—and in order to fight wars on numerous new fronts, scientists are tinkering with ways to reanimate the tissue of dead soldiers. When the experiment goes awry, troops are brought in to take care of the problem, but an infected soldier escapes into a strip club and bites the star attraction, played by porn legend Jenna Jameson. The zombie Jameson is even more dynamic than the non-zombie Jameson, which gives the club's greedy owner (Robert Englund) little reason to keep the infection from spreading.

As one stripper after another gets the bug, Zombie Strippers turns into a slicker version of Ed Wood's long-forgotten Orgy Of The Dead, which basically featured one "undead" babe after another stripping joylessly in front of a campfire. The bodies are tighter and more synthetic here, but most of the second act consists of pole-dancing routines enhanced by creature-feature makeup and the occasional offhand reference to Nietzsche. Currently stopping by theaters briefly en route to DVD, the film tries to position Jameson as the next Linnea Quigley, the B-movie queen behind such enduring titles as Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama. Be careful what you wish for…

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