I was recently perusing Netflix and happened to see a rather interesting title: “Zombie Strippers” (2008). Being somewhat of a connoisseur of bad horror movies, I settled down to watch this flick, starring none other than porn star Jenna Jameson.
To sum up the movie, it was gratuitous everything: nudity, sex, racism, profanity, violence, and nudity bears listing again. However, interspersed between the showing of boobs and the eating of brains, some highly metaphysical conversation took place. In fact, the star stripper read Nietzsche in between her floor time – both before and after becoming a zombie! (She did mention that it made more sense after she was dead.)
This was rather interesting, so I did a little research about the movie. Yes, I consulted Wikipedia. I found out that the movie happens to be loosely based on an absurdist play from the 1950s that addressed the rise of fascism.
So, I promptly obtained a copy of this play – Eugene Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros” – and read it.
While there were some definite shared themes, when Wikipedia says “loosely based,” it means LOOSELY based.
The main connection between the two works is the idea of society being overtaken by some non-human force—zombies and rhinoceroses, respectively—which people, for some reason, choose to conform to rather than fight against. The works address mass thinking and fascism as represented by zombies and rhinoceroses.
Throughout the play, everyone willingly becomes a rhinoceros except for the protagonist, who holds out and has an identity crisis near the end.
The same is true of the movie. One by one, the strippers purposefully get bitten in order to become a zombie and gain an otherworldly hold over their customers, not to mention a new repertoire of moves on the pole.
Besides the theme and some of the bits of dialogue, the movie also manages to slightly pay homage to the play with the names of places: the strip club itself is named Rhino (the logo is a rhino wearing a thong and looking over its shoulder) and it’s in Sartre, Nebraska.
I enjoyed watching this highly campy movie, but I would not recommend it to anyone with a weak stomach or a normal level of morality. It’s gross and slightly disturbing, but it’s also funny. To me, at least.