Zombies Vs. Strippers (2012)
Dir: Alex Nicolaou
Stars: Circus-Szalewski, Eve Mauro, Brittany Gael Vaughn, Adam Brooks, Brad Potts and Adriana Sephora
I don’t mind admitting that in high school, after particularly grueling weeks of study towards inevitable exams, my pals and I would sometimes have veg nights. These evenings featured one of us driving the others to Blockbuster and immediately spreading out individually amongst the thousands of titles. About ten minutes later, we would reconvene in the checkout line. Would we watch my pick, Bloodfist 4, or perhaps MH’s pick, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death? Or perhaps we were in the mood for Leprechaun: Back in the ‘Hood, which JF had found (see note 1). My point is that we would each try to find the most absolutely obscure title in the store, take it home and watch it with some LaRosa’s Pizza (miss you, LaRosa’s!) and then either quote the film throughout the following week or imitate the most ridiculous scene. One of our favorite scenes involved a villain getting hit with a pole, and then obviously throwing a large chunk of matter away from his face in shadow to make it appear the strike from the pole really had taken its toll. Sigh.
I was reminded of these high school movie nights as I watched just the first several minutes of Zombies vs. Strippers, which is a phenomenal B-movie. As you may have guessed from its honest title, this is a film about a downtown L.A. strip club run by Spider (Circus-Szalewski), which is attacked by a horde of zombies. In the first several minutes, we are given several “subtle” hints that there might be a problem. The radio DJ refers to people going crazy in the streets, “and the Lakers aren’t even in town!” On his way in the Tough Titty – that’s the name of the strip bar, of course – the parking lot bum tells the owner, Spider, that he’d like some money because “people are eating each other these days,” and he doesn’t want to be one of them. Once in the bar, we see one of Spider’s strippers named Bambi performing for a couple of zombies, and she’s really having a tough time getting a reaction out of them.
Spider is a main character with all sorts of problems. I mean, as the owner of a failing business, he’s got sassy employees like Sugar (Eve Mauro) and Vanilla (Brittany Gael Vaughn, definitely reminiscent of some of Pam Grier’s roles in the ‘70s), he’s got a terrible DJ who’s incessantly high, he’s got a terrible bouncer who can’t keep the zombies out, and he must decide whether or not to cut his losses and sell the bar. Aside from all of these issues, Spider’s one hero is a guy named Hambo who has one of those TV shows that no one watches. Of all the plot elements set up in “Act One,” I thought the resolution to the Hambo introduction was the most satisfying.
So, in the end, did I like Zombies vs. Strippers? Absolutely! How could I like such a title, you ask? Well, there are two basic reasons. First and foremost, it’s a movie that’s honest about what it is. Have you seen the trailer?
From the preview, this film promises some classic “T&A,” a little action and some laughs as well. Does it deliver? It delivers 100% of what it advertises, which is more than I can say for some titles today. If I’ve used this example already, please pardon me, but in February of this year, I had a colleague tell me she was leaving work early on Friday to go see the latest romantic comedy in theaters. She’d been looking forward to this title for months having seen the preview. It starred one of her “faves” and she and her pals were having a girls night. All she wanted was a nice, drippy love story properly presented: that’s all she required for her $12 investment. However, when I asked her on Monday how her big movie was, she got this awful look on her face like she’d just smelled something that went rotten in her frig and yelled, “It was TERRIBLE! I wanted to walk out!” With Zombies Vs. Strippers, at least you can say that there is no debate about its truth in advertising.
But the other reason I actually liked the film was the supporting characters and how funny they were. I’ll give a couple of examples. Early in the movie, the big bouncer flanks Spider as he confronts the two zombies watching Bambi. One of the zombies grabs his zombie buddy’s hand and bites several fingers off of it. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in. OK, then Spider screams at the zombie, “Oh my God, what have you been drinking?” and not missing a beat, the bouncer says to Spider, “I don’t think these guys need anything more to drink, boss.” Later in the film, the bouncer has been bitten by one of the zombies and one of the less than brilliant strippers, Jasmine, has generously offered to make their last night on earth a memorable one. As she’s giving him a lap dance, she asks the bouncer what he likes about her. Well, by now he’s fully turned into a zombie and thus says, “Brains.” Jasmine’s response is, “That’s like, the sweetest thing a guy has ever said to me.”
I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far into this post without mentioning Red Wings, which is one of the bikers that enters the bar about midway through the film. Talk about a survivor. He’s been learning how to “keep [the zombies] down” and doesn’t even stop to wipe the blood off his face after surviving a particularly difficult attack. This guy’s lines were absolutely priceless. As an example, when he hears the record player start up again (by now it’s been established that zombies are attracted to the DJ’s awful music, so they have turned the music off), he frowns and slowly says, “I thought we put an end to that cacophony.” In the tradition of ‘70s and ‘80s exploitation horror films – not to mention the more recent Tarantino & Rodriguez productions – good ol’ Red Wings really fit in.
In the end, would I recommend this film? Only to one guy. You know who you are. You’re the guy with no girlfriend, who’s a little buzzed from the bars, sitting on his couch at 1am next Saturday night flipping through his VOD or pay-per-view menu. Bro, let me tell you, if it’s a choice between Zombie Vs. Strippers for a flat $4.99 and some other film in your DVD collection that you’ve seen 18 times, I think you’d do much better with ZvS! I mean, wouldn’t you love to tell your pals at work on Monday, “I watched Zombies Vs. Strippers this weekend.”
Note 1: I humbly admit that I’ve seen all three of these titles. Seriously.