A secret US government chemo-virus is unleashed that causes the dead to be re-animated. When a soldier is infected he stumbles into an underground strip club, unwittingly unleashing a horde of undead erotic dancers who become an instant - but deadly - local sensation...
A curious addition to this year’s anti-war movies, Zombie Strippers (alternative title: In The Valley Of Jenna?) starts with a Dubya administration-produced “super-soldier” virus infecting the dancing ladies of a downtown gentlemen’s club. It ends with Jenna Jameson shooting a bowling ball out of her zombiefied vagina. Which makes it instantly more entertaining than Lions For Lambs, at the very least.
Fans of Jameson - the “Queen Of Porn”, whose multi-million-dollar empire marks her out as a smarter operator than titles like Udderly Ridiculous would suggest - will be impressed. Surprisingly solid in a rare vertical role, she anchors the bloody, nudie nonsense with an engaging turn, both on the pole and off. In fact, it’s the backstage scenes that work best: when Jameson is consumed by the zombie-lurgy, her aggressively saucy new routine sees punters flocking in, causing arch dressing-room rivalry with her colleagues that recalls the best of the high camp of Showgirls, minus its deluded sense of wit.
With his new zombie star raking in the big bucks, but also unfortunately munching on the genitals of those clients foolish enough to ask for a private show, Robert Englund’s club owner conceals a growing pile of re-animated corpses in the cellar, while upstairs the girls - in a bid to keep pace with Jameson - offer themselves up to her infectious bite. It’s an interesting idea and a knowing observation of the pressures on many women in Hollywood to go under the knife just to stay in a cutthroat race... Plus, it has loads of really massive tits in it.
It’s this fatal dichotomy that ultimately undermines Zombie Strippers. Torn between knowing and norks - a prerequisite given the audience the title will attract - it doesn’t adequately deliver on either, a one-note script and godawful direction instead delivering monotonous, putrefied pole-dancing and laboured laughs. Factor in a borderline offensive and clunkingly telegraphed subplot featuring the club’s fabled “face dance”, as well as a predictable zombie stripper “fanny-off” in the final reel, and Lee’s postage-stamp plot lurches to an unsatisfactory climax. Ironic, considering.
A brilliantly high-concept title and some decent gore aside, you’re better off watching the version in your head. It will be infinitely more fun and have markedly improved production values.
Reviewed by Mark Dinning