With that pulpy title, Zombie Strippers is clearly wishing itself into the same category of awesomely trashy, Z-grade exploitation films that Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez paid homage to in Grindhouse. But if there's any Grindhouse here, it's the literal origins of that term only -- a strip club serving as a "house" where dancers "grind" against the customers. The collection of talent should have indicated this movie wouldn't be up to the satirical task at hand, starting with the leads: Jenna Jameson, a porn star trying for some version of legitimacy, and Robert Englund, the former Freddy Krueger, who's kept alive a whiff of a career in straight-to-video schlock.
Zombie Strippers is supposed to be bad, but it just can't find the correct tone of badness until the third act. It looks Cinemax cheap rather than Troma cheap, and feels under-thought rather than intentionally misguided. Writer-director-editor-cinematographer Jay Lee serves notice he wants to continue the legacy of social commentary in zombie movies, starting with newsreel footage in which George W. Bush has just won a fourth term, and daughter Jenna is on the Supreme Court. The strip club is called Rhino's (a jab at the Spearmint Rhino chain), and even before they become zombified, club patrons are supposed to be the modern version of the mindless mall-walkers in Dawn of the Dead -- so programmed to love female flesh that they don't even care if it's necrotic. But because this satire isn't guided with a sure enough hand, too much time is spent on softcore titillation and bad one-liners. Near the end, as internal organs and arterial blood really start to fly, bodies explode in hilarious ways, and Jameson begins shooting billiard balls from her womanhood, Zombie Strippers finally becomes pretty fun for about 15 minutes.