THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Movie Review

Grinding out the shlock

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / April 18, 2008

It barely matters that "Zombie Strippers" is a tediously overextended satire. It's called "Zombie Strippers." For weeks when I've been bored at the gym, I'd think, "Zombie Strippers!" When I was bored on the train: "Zombie Strippers!" When I was bored of being bored, it was always, "Zombie Strippers!"

But when you're bored watching Jay Lee's ghetto-budget "Zombie Strippers," there's nowhere to turn. Shouting the title never quite prepared me for either how stripping zombies aren't as hot or as funny as I thought they would be or how quickly the movie's eager intelligence collapses on itself. The film is set in one of those post-apocalyptic nightmares. George Bush is serving a fourth term, and a government experiment has turned entire classes of people - "the homeless . . . illegals . . . the middle class" - into zombies (the original goal was to make them super-soldiers).

After a paramilitary, mock-action-movie prelude, Lee drops us into an underground gentleman's club, where backstage the women read Nietzsche and decry fatalism. A wired Robert Englund runs the club, and Jenna Jameson plays one of the ladies on his payroll. When one of the dancers takes the stage after zombification, the men in the audience go bananas. Suddenly, they prefer their live nude girls undead, and the other dancers consider turning into zombies, too.

Lee has crafted a sort of Marxist critique of the erotic arts by way of a tribute to shlock. Indeed, does the male gaze deaden the women it fixes upon? And would the women prefer death under those circumstances? That's dissertation stuff, but the entire cast and crew appears to be having a very good time helping Lee see it all through, anyway.

"Zombie Strippers" was shot on video so the gore glistens as brightly as the neon signs glow, and the production design is as witty as the dialogue. Everything in this movie seems to have been thoroughly worked out. It's just paced for traffic jams. "Zombie Strippers" is engorged with so many ideas - and so much pole dancing - that the whole thing capsizes under the weight of its glee. The film's joke about female enhancement stays afloat, though. Zombification has no apparent effect on implants. Skin and teeth decay. Fake breasts are forever.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com. For more on movies, go to boston.com/ae/movies/blog.

Zombie Strippers

Written and directed by: Jay Lee

Starring: Robert Englund and Jenna Jameson

At: Kendall Theatre, Cambridge

Running time: Not available

Rated: R (topless pole dancing, decaying flesh, profanity, pseudo-military violence - you name it, it's here)

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