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The Naked and the Undead

It’s a shame to give away the one thoroughly bone-chilling scare in Zombie Strippers, but it’s right at the beginning, anyway: The movie is set in the near future, during the fourth term of President George W. Bush.

As one might expect in such a world, strip clubs have been outlawed and have moved underground. Into one such joint comes a soldier who’s been bitten by a flesh-eating zombie and is changing into one himself. He, in turn, bites the alpha female dancer, Kat (porn favorite Jenna Jameson), who finds that being undead somehow improves her performance on the pole. The swag pours in, and pretty soon other dancers are asking Kat to put the bite on them so that they can cash in on the new style.

Writer/director Jay Lee dutifully acknowledges his debt to Ionesco’s Rhinocéros -- the club is called Rhinos, while the shady manager (Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund) is named “Ian Essko.” Into this existential parable of conformity, however, Zombie Strippers stirs a chaotic mix of slapstick, blood, guts, cannibalism, nods to films ranging from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre to The Warriors, odd references to philosophical schools from Sartre to Nietzsche to Theosophy, and a climactic duel between Kat and her rivals involving ping-pong balls and, yes, billiard balls.

To complain that the satire is sophomoric and heavy-handed, or that the filmmakers had to vamp like mad to stretch the running time to 90 minutes, would be like complaining about the lack of ballet at Bandaids Show Club. Zombie Strippers is intended as a party movie -- a few beers would likely deepen its profundity. It was made, finally, so that there would be a movie titled Zombie Strippers. Existential, indeed.

April 18-24, 2008


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