Monday, November 19, 2012

The Cinema File #30: "Strippers Vs. Werewolves" Review

See, its funny 'cause two things that shouldn't be fighting each other are in fact fighting one another. Its a thing Vs. another thing, where neither thing is relevant to the other thing! Get it?...Ugh.

So I'm watching Cockneys Vs. Zombies right? And I'm pleasantly surprised by the result, and as I'm uploading my review to my sister site Picture Show Pundits, tediously plugging in the information about the movie from, I notice that Alan Dale, the delightful old codger from this movie, was also in another movie this year with the same Something Vs. Something title scheme where a group thought to be strange or inherently amusing does battle against a supernatural force. And so, fool that I am, I track down this movie, thinking the actor connection must be some indication of its shared quality. I was wrong, and now I am lost, adrift in the sea of ball-sucking terrible-ness that is Strippers Vs. Werewolves.

The story follows a group of strippers who fight werewolves. I'm not trying to be clever there, that's really the whole fucking movie. A werewolf attacks a stripper during a dance, the stripper accidentally kills him in self defense, blood feud ensues. Apparently its based on a comic book, and I know this both because the opening credits say it, and because the movie employs this godawful multi-panel visual style that I suppose was meant to give it a comic book feel, but just makes it an ugly distracting mess.

The werewolves are a gang of criminals who just happen to be werewolves, though that fact doesn't really have much bearing on the plot outside of one character's slow transformation. They could have easily just been criminals, and I can even see a story like this where an accidental death leads a criminal gang to take revenge on a strip club as being satisfying in a seedy Paul Schrader kind of way. That is to say, if it was done well, which this movie certainly is not. I refuse to feel stupid for demanding a better story and better characters in my movie, even if that movie is Strippers Vs. Werewolves!

There are so many things about this movie that are unnecessary or just weird. For some reason, the leader of the strippers knows all about werewolves from the beginning, and this feud is a long standing one. And there's this whole subplot of one of the strippers' flabby boyfriends who I guess is some kind of supernatural expert. It seems so tangential to the story, and then comes back in the end as if it was important all along, after I'd already stopped caring about it (as if I'd even started to). And then in the end, before the titular epic battle between strippers and werewolves, the strippers put on a dance show for the werewolves. Not as some sort of distraction, but just as an excuse for a striptease, which I obviously get on a crass exploitative level, but still find incredibly insulting, especially since the actresses involved aren't even willing to appear nude. I wouldn't ordinarily demand this of course, but it seems to me that if you're not even going to try to be good, you should at least go all the way in being bad.

And in a movie this exploitative, its really saying something that the thing I found most insulting was the Robert Englund cameo. To think that this movie's producers thought that the horror fan in me would forgive this shit just because Freddy Krueger is in it for five minutes is even more offensive then all the rest of it. Admittedly, its the best part of the movie, though that isn't saying much. Even so, its a scene that adds nothing to the plot and is only there for him to show up, act creepy, and then leave the movie. That is, until he comes back in a post-credit sequence that I suppose would suggest a sequel, though god help us all if that day ever comes. I watched the trailer for this, and Englund is all over it, suggesting he has a much bigger role than he does. The clip actually makes the film look halfway decent actually, making his slight inclusion in the film that much more deceptive and shallow.

Movies don't have to be this bad. Even kitschy movies with deliberately "so bad it must be good" one joke premises need not be this bad. Just in the past few days I've seen Cockneys Vs. Zombies and FDR: American Badass, both of which had the potential to be insufferably one-note, but instead took the opportunity to be something more than perhaps even the audiences they were intended for were expecting. This movie doesn't even try. The flipside of judging straight to DVD movies by a different standard that forgives certain technical and budget induced flaws is that one still has to accept the premise that they can be good in the areas where it counts. Being low budget and lacking a wide theatrical release does not justify this sort of laziness. I don't subscribe to this idea that its schlock so it doesn't matter if its bad. If I did, I wouldn't take the time to watch these movies, let alone review them.

Never see this movie. Don't bother, even if you might be curious or expecting some degree of riffability or even titillation. This movie is not "so bad its good." It's just bad. Really, really, really bad. This is Arachnoquake bad.

Anyway, I'm off to write and direct Midgets Vs. Mummies, because who gives a fuck.
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