Running Time: 94 mins
Rated: Rated MA15+ (horror violence, blood and gore, and sexual references)
This film is officially advertised as a Comedy and Science Fiction Fantasy which is a highly conceptual way of describing a movie which sets out intentionally to be violent, erotic and bloody. The cast contains well known porn stars and the promised erotica draws heavily on nudity and near-nudity as the zombie strippers (who quote Nietzsche and Sartre) proceed to eat the flesh of those they entertain. Add to that, jokes which are bad taste and which illustrate strong religious bias and there is virtually nothing in this movie that isn't there to offend someone.
A secret laboratory in Nebraska has developed a virus that re-animates dead tissue; the aim is to send dead marines back into battle as zombies. One of the marines sent in to destroy the products of the scientific project is bitten and becomes infected by the virus. The infected marine ends up in a strip club named Rhino run by Ian Essko (Robert Englund). There he dies, awakens as a zombie, and bites one of the strippers who is then infected and becomes the club's most highly popular dancer as a zombie. Fearing they will be left out, the other strippers want to be infected too. The club's clientele obviously prefer zombie strippers and most of the strippers choose to become infected, because their male clients are no longer turned on by live dancers. The zombies kill the customers, who are caged to protect those still alive. There is carnage everywhere as the zombies eat their client's flesh, eat themselves, and the film descends (if that is possible) into even more blood and gore.
Zombie movies nearly always have subtexts and this film is no exception. It tries to project porn as art and plays at politics. The film bases itself very loosely on Eugene Ionesco's classic absurdist play, Rhinoceros, and has the zombies mouthing satirical platitudes and comments of a philosophical kind throughout. The film also parodies political events in the USA. But it can only attract those who buy a ticket to see America's major porn stars doing their thing, and who like blood and gore as well. One of those stars, Kat (Jenna Jamieson) is the club's major attraction; another star joins the club to try and save up enough money for her grandmother's operation, but that is an excuse to show more pole dancing and erotic display. Offensive scenes throughout parallel much-used practices in many pornographic movies and videos and the intended lampooning of anything in this movie (from Nietzsche to President Bush to the US's involvement in the Iraq war, and global warming) is entirely lost in the vulgarity, offense and violence of it all. For those who go to the film, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, they would have to like poor acting, direction, and storytelling, and the dialogue in this one is achingly bad. Naked flesh, gratuitous violence and carnage are what it is about and they are all there in aces and spades.
Fortunately, the film has limited release. It seems destined for a short run on the main movie circuit, but possibly a protracted run on the shelf of video stores for the minority of adults who look for this particular kind of entertainment. It projects an appalling view of the dignity of both men and women; it is adult schlock at its worst; and if one finds oneself watching it by mistake, it is best to leave.
Warner Independent Pictures. Out 14th August
Peter W. Sheehan. Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.