Directed by Alex Nicolaou
Expectations: Moderate, the trailer was good, but I’m still apprehensive. It is called Zombies vs. Strippers.
On the general scale:
On the B-Movie scale:
When Full Moon announced the film Zombies vs. Strippers, I expected two thing from it: strippers and zombies. I didn’t really expect them to fight as I assumed that Full Moon was just creating a flashy title for their next pseudo-softcore movie. To my surprise, Zombies vs. Strippers is much more reserved with its nudity than you’d expect (not that it doesn’t have its share of titties), but unfortunately it’s also somewhat reserved with its use of the zombies. There are many problems here, but the main one is a question of the budget. One location is fine if you’re innovative, but most of the time Full Moon is never clever enough to keep your mind engaged so that you won’t notice.
The Tough Titty is a strip joint in a shit part of LA run by Spider (Circus-Szalewski). He’s in love with the tiki aesthetic and flower-print shirts and his titty bar is a reflection of that personal style. It’s not the most modern decor, but it is unique. The zombie apocalypse is happening throughout the city, but everyone in the bar is completely oblivious to it. When the only two (zombie) patrons in the bar don’t raise anything more than a tired groan when one of the dancers shakes her thing for them, no one thinks anything is amiss. Even when one starts eating the other’s fingers, they just shrug it off as two crazy dudes. I suppose that’s not a crazy response to that situation; if I saw two guys eating each other’s hands at my workplace I might think of zombies, but I wouldn’t necessarily jump to the conclusion that the apocalypse was upon us. For once it seems that Full Moon has provided us with a realism in the characters we never knew we wanted. It doesn’t really work for a zombie movie, but the character’s reactions do lead us down some good paths that the quick-thinking, self-aware yahoos of some zombie films would have never let us see. Things like a stripper giving a man turning into a zombie a lap dance and thinking he’s complementing her when he groans “Brains!” after she asks him why he likes her so much.
Most of the movie is concerned with Spider’s moral dilemma of being in debt and wanting to sell the bar. It’s clichéd and boring, and unfortunate that it had to take up so much of the runtime. While Circus-Szalewski does a great job in the role, I wish that the writers had more of an idea than, “Hey what if we made a movie about zombies and strippers!” To be fair, I found this movie far more enjoyable than the Jenna Jameson-led Zombie Strippers, which goes the route of actually having zombie strippers dancing for the patrons. I can’t imagine there would actually be someone out there that would have a zombie fetish, but at this point I wouldn’t be surprised. In any case, Zombies vs. Strippers doesn’t do anything of that sort and instead keeps the interactions between the two factions strictly to battle.
I don’t mean “battle” in the Helm’s Deep, thousands of enemies, sort of way. No, it’s decidedly more small-scale stuff here and Vanilla, the black stripper, is definitely my favorite character. She’s a stereotypical, kick-ass action black chick in the mold of Pam Grier, but as a Pam Grier fan I didn’t mind. I simply enjoyed it when she ripped off her high-heel shoe and jammed it in a zombie’s eye. As much fun as Vanilla is at times, the first zombie raid on the club ranks as one of the most boring zombie scenes I’ve ever seen. I know they have a limited budget and can only do so much, but the filmmaking is so poor in this sequence that there’s literally no tension. Instead of Charles Band at the helm, this time we have Alex Nicolaou. If the last name sounds familiar, it’s because Alex’s father, Ted Nicolaou, was one of Full Moon’s most prolific and successful directors, bringing us the Subspecies series among others. While Alex clearly has a modicum of talent, it’s definitely not for action scenes. There are some excellent establishing shots of the city throughout the film, but most of it is comprised of poorly lit strip club scenes that are much too dark.
The trailer promises a film filled with gore, something a Full Moon movie almost never aspires to. The actuality of the movie is that the trailer contains almost all the gore. This was a big disappointment to me, but that’s what I get for buying into the advertising of a low-budget movie. There’s still some great moments, but I would highly recommend if you’re going to watch this, just watch it and ignore the trailer. Oh, and as I’m in the midst of watching the Scanners series, I have to mention the head explosion. As you can probably tell from the GIF I made, it’s a CG head explosion, but it proves to me that I will enjoy any type of head explosion regardless of CG as long as it’s still fun. I recognize this one as being rather shitty, but it gets the job done and I greatly enjoyed its inclusion in the film.
For a movie that’s only 67 minutes (not counting the seven and a half minutes of credit time), it’s a shame to call it boring. But it is what it is, boring and much too dialogue driven to be anything more than passing entertainment. I did enjoy it while I was watching, and a few moments had me howling with laughter, but most of it is rather insignificant and vapid. It’s not really depraved like Charles Band’s recent directorial output, but it is completely superfluous and empty. It definitely delivers both strippers and zombies, and the fight between them, but nothing that really meets my overzealous expectations.
Next time I’ll be checking out the latest Moonbeam title to hit Redbox, Shandar: the Shrunken City!