Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Netflix Roulette: Zombies, Zombies, Zombies

This is the description Netflix offers for Zombies, Zombies, Zombies (2008, directed by Jason Murphy):

"When an unorthodox drug experiment conducted by a mad scientist transforms the residents of a small town into flesh-eating zombies, a motley crew of exotic dancers, pimps, hookers and johns are forced to take refuge inside a seedy strip club. Helmed by first-time filmmaker Jason Murphy, this zany, tongue-in-cheek horror-thriller stars FHM model Jessica Barton and Playboy Playmate Hollie Winnard."

Yeah. It's another one of those movies. No Jenna Jameson in this one, though, and a slightly higher-quality veneer of professionalism. I should probably own up right now to the fact that I don't have a lot of patience for these kinds of intentionally campy movies, and when this came up on the random movie generator, I was dreading the experience of watching it. I was tempted to bounce it and generate another movie, but that would be cheating. The things I do in the name of blogging.

To my surprise, it wasn't awful. Mind you, it wasn't good, but it wasn't a slog to get through it. There are a lot of more ambitious horror movies that can't say the same thing. It has a nice self-awareness to it, and the humor actually works in fits and starts. It also avoids the trap of viewing sex workers only as a pair of tits and a vagina, or shaming them for their profession. I mean, it's problematic enough that this kind of movie thinks the only access women should be granted to geek culture is as strippers and sexpots, so it's nice that it doesn't double down on the sexism. It doesn't hurt that it pretty much despises most of the male characters, as well it should.

I am a bit troubled by the dichotomy between stripping and hooking the movie sets up. There's an assumption that having real sex for money is somehow a more shameful, more exploitative profession than stripping, which is just silly. You could take the dialogue that the movie uses to excuse the choices of our stripper heroines into the mouths of its hooker characters without blinking. I pretty much hate moralizing--especially in lowbrow genres like horror movies--so this just sticks in my craw.

The self-awareness starts early with this one, as the movie opens with a film within a film starring Tiffany Shepis that's a cross between Dawn of the Dead and Ice Castles. I'll admit to laughing at this segement, especially when Shepsis says "You fucked with the WRONG ice princess!" The rest? Well, it's a replay of the Night of the Living Dead microcosm, set in a strip club rather than a farmhouse and without any real insight into the human condition. It's mainly interested in boobs and blood and cheap laughs. On that level, it works well enough, but audiences wanting something more should look elsewhere. Genre, in this movie, is an end unto itself. Take that any way you like.

No comments: