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Zombie Strippers

Blood and Breasts, Served Early and Often

Zombie Strippers has been billed as the mainstream debut of Jenna Jameson, whose past credits include I Love Lesbians 10 and Dirty Bob’s Xcellent, but the difference between her latest work and the hardcore pornography that made her famous is not nearly as pronounced as one might expect. While Strippers is rated R -- a compelling testament to the notion that sex in films is far more offensive to America’s Motion Pictures Association than even the most explicit violence -- it is, in almost every other respect, as narratively unsophisticated as the bulk of Jameson’s past productions.

The concept is as simple as the title might suggest. Set in a not-too-distant future when George W. Bush is serving out his fourth term in the White House and developing biological agents capable of reanimating the dead, director Jay Lee’s story takes place almost exclusively inside a rural Nebraska strip club presided over by a sufficiently sleazed-up Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), who wields a bottle of disinfectant just in case he brushes up against one of his girls. Once the club is hit with a wave of the zombie virus, Jameson and her fellow dancers keep the shows rolling with renewed zeal, literally devouring their clientele during a series of lapdances that double as orgiastic bloodbaths.

Lee’s political satire is often sharp and amusing, as America barrels belligerently into the future with guns blazing, and the implication is clear -- if the murderous zombies in the strip club don’t get you, the ones in Washington will. But as unabashedly campy horror inspired by the grisly grindhouse fare of the 60s and 70s, it lacks the subversive sense of imagination that informed Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof and Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror. For fans of large, fake breasts doused in rivers of blood, it might prove a welcome distraction, but too much of Zombie Strippers feels like exploitative voyeurism in search of a good reason to exist.

As for Jameson? Her acting is no more or less competent than the rest of the cast’s, which is rounded out by self-described Queen of the Underground Roxy Saint and onetime Playboy model Penny Drake. But acting is hardly of great consequence in a movie where everyone involved seems a little too in on the joke, as if distancing themselves from material that would simply be vile if it weren’t so outrageously over the top.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars