Friday, June 3, 2011

DVD Review: Stripperland (2010)

Stripperland (2010)
Label: Cheezy Flicks
Rating: R
Duration: 90 mins
Video: Widescreen 16x9
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Director: Sean Skelding
Cast: Ben Sheppard, Jamison Challeen, Maren McGuire, Ileana Herrin, Hank Cartwright, Daniel Baldwin, Lloyd Kaufman, Shel Bailey, Brad McCray, Linnea Quigley, Boyd Banks
Tagline: First They Dance, Then They Kill!

Film: Sean Skelding's straight-to-video Stripperland is a rather blatant send-up of the zombie apocalypse comedy Zombieland (2009) that injects some Zombie Strippers (2008) sleaziness into the proceedings. When a mysterious virus called "zimbo" turns women everywhere into slutty man-eating tramps it's every man for himself. "Idaho" (Ben Sheppard) is an awkward guy who meets up with ass-kicking "Frisco" (Jamison Challeen) after a chance encounter at a grocery store. The dork has an established set of rules that help him evade the slutty hordes while Frisco is  a man on a quest to obtain baked confections made from scratch, not Twinkies which you can get anywhere, fuck that shit. After a brief introduction they team-up and set out on the road where they soon encounter two more survivors; Virginia (Maren McGuire) and West (Ileana Herrin). Together the quartet head towards the West Coast where lies the promise of relative safety.  Wow, this film isn't so much a send-up of Zombieland as an indie remake injected with some tits and ass. Don't get me wrong though for the film is actually quite entertaining. I suggest a few beers just before and continuing throughout for maximum enjoyment, it seemed to work for me.

Ben Sheppard is obviously riffing on Eisenberg's dorky guy persona and his whiny narration and dialogue grated on me at times but he did have a nice delivery with good comedic timing. Jamison Challen steps in for Woody Harrelson with some fun dialogue but his flat delivery stunted some rather witty one liners. Our female protagonists do well for themselves but don't seem to get much in the way of decent dialogue. While they're not relegated to eye-candy status (except for one scene) they just don't get enough to do, though they do kick some ass once or twice. We also get some nutty cameos throughout the film that I thought were pretty entertaining. When the group head to the mall they meets a pimp named Maestro played by Boyd Banks who's appeared in George A. Romero's Land of the Dead (2005) and Diary of the Dead (2007) as well as Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead (2004) remake, that's quite  zombie pedigree.  The group also encounters the rapper "Double D" played by Daniel Baldwin who survives by rapping to the stripper zombies who just can't get enough of his mad MC skills. Make sure to check out the music video in the special features. Troma impresario Lloyd Kaufman appears in a flashback scene as Idaho's father while actor Thom Bray, perhaps best known for getting run-thru with a bicycle by Alice Cooper in John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness (1987), makes an appearance as a nutty scientist that's a tip of the hat to Dr. Logan from Day of the Dead. Perhaps the nuttiest cameo comes from 80's scream queen Linnea Quigley of Savage Streets (1984), Return of the Living Dead (1985) and Night of the Demons (1988) as "Grambo" a heavily armed ass-kicking Grannie. .

There's a lot to enjoy with this film if you can get by the derivative nature. This is a good looking low budget production with some sharp editing and a lot of blood n' guts. With a title like Stripperland I was expecting more sluts than guts but to my delight we get some very well done practical effects, it's quite a bloody affair. Sure, there are quite a few digital effects shots too but they are tastefully done and don't draw too much attention to themselves. The comedy is actually quite witty with some funny homages to Star Trek, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, a rocking soundtrack and some fun cameos.

On the downside, the film is a bit long and the gags do start to wear out their welcome towards the end, I think there's at least 10 minutes that could be excised without detriment. Another critique would be that the film too slavishly adheres to the Zombieland formula. The comedic writing was strong enough I think the film could have departed from it's source material and branched out a bit. A scene meant to replicate the Bill Murray cameo is a bust for me, it didn't work at all and feel extraneous.  

DVD: Stripperland comes to DVD from IMD Films and Cheezy Flicks with a 16x9 widescreen presentation. It'a low budget film and while that can't be denied I think the film is pretty sharp looking. We only get 2.0 stereo audio but it handles the dialogue and soundtracks quite well. We get 2 audio commentaries, some deleted scenes, a blooper reel, 2 music videos, 3 featurettes, 3 trailers and a fun collection of drive-in concession/intermission reels including an Orange Shasta advert narrated by Mr. Cunningham himself, the late Tom Bosley.

Special Features:
- Commentary with the Writer, Director and Editor
- Commentary with SF/X
- Blood Guts and More Blood - SFX (4:46) 16x9
- The Kickass Begins with the Celebrities of Stripperland (6:47) 16x9
- First They Dance, Then They Kill! - The Girls of Stripperland (12:31) 16x9
- Music Video: Daniel Baldwin aka Double D "Club Life" (3:33) 16x9
- Music Video: Smoochknob "Weirdo" (4:21) 16x9
- Deleted Scenes (9:31) 16x9
- Blooper Reel (3:50) 16x9
- Drive-In Fun (5:17)  1.33:1
- 3 IMD Trailer (5:16) 16x9

Verdict: I came to Stripperland with very low expectations having had some knowledge of director Sean Skelding's previous film, an erotic send-up of I Am Legend and what I knew of it wasn't very good.  Stripperland simply is what it is - an entertaining send-up of Zombieland chock full o' sluts and guts, no more no less. If you enjoyed Zombie Strippers (2008) or  Jake West's Doghouse (2009) this film will definitely appeal to your
particular tastes.  2.75 outta 5

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