JANUARY 20, 2013
I love being completely surprised, though it's still more than a tad misleading that Zombie Stripper Apocalypse's DVD case makes no mention of the fact that it's actually a redubbed mockery of a film called Big Tits Zombie (BTZ from now on). Yes, you might think I got the titles reversed there, but it's true: in a manner not unlike What's Up Tiger Lily?, the folks tasked with dubbing Zombie Stripper Apocalypse (ZSA) made up their own dialogue, often mocking the film and breaking the 4th wall.
And it actually works, for the most part. Since the original BTZ (which also goes by Big Tits Dragon, just to make this more confusing) is what my pal Evan would call a "Robo Fart Ninja Zombie" movie, it's a pretty ridiculous film to begin with, making it pretty easy to lampoon. Indeed, at times I wondered if they WERE even changing the dialogue, as what was on-screen couldn't possibly have made any sense with the original scripted lines anyway. I poked around a bit and it seems that this is the full version of the movie (a merciful 73 minutes), so it's not like they re-edited it to suit their needs, like the MST3k guys often did (mainly for commercials on the show; no idea why This Island Earth got so gutted for the movie). I guess it's possible that some of the lines remained intact just to keep the "plot" more or less intact, but it's not like there's a strong foundation to the humor - whoever was behind this (no credits for the "American" version are given) was clearly just doing whatever he thought was funny at that second.
Thus, it's a bit uneven, and even somewhat confusing at times, like when the movie starts with a lengthy "flash-forward" of the climactic battle with the undead (yup, padding in a 73 minute movie that includes two credit sequences; Charles Band would be proud). When the scene replays near the end, the jokes are a mix between the same ones we heard before AND comments about how we already saw the scene, which is like breaking the 4th wall with one hand and repairing it with the other. The writing also frequently gets ahead of itself - at one point we see an establishing shot of one of the film's primary locations, with new voiceover commenting on a continuity flub that we're going to see in a few seconds. So it's like hearing the punchline before the setup, killing the laugh in favor of this reaction: "What are they talking about? (3 second pause). Oh, that hand is on the floor now."
I also wasn't sure about the tendency to have the director comment on the action, as if he was just off camera barking orders or complaining about bad acting or whatever. Not that his comments were unfunny ("They bet me I couldn't make a full movie in three hours, let's prove them wrong!"), but they're infrequent, and again fall into that confusing area where some seem to be "live" as if he said them while filming, and others seem to be him making comments as he watches the final version. Plus, since he's sort of becoming a character in the process, it makes it odd (almost somewhat fishy) that he's not credited - it's not like Tiger Lily hid the fact that Woody Allen was the guy behind it, and it was his first movie!
But when it works, it's actually pretty hilarious if you're in the right mood. Making fun of even the best of these movies is akin shooting fish in a barrel, but this one is particularly dreadful (apparently on purpose), with visible wires during the FX scenes, terrible acting across the board, and (my favorite) plastic covering on nearly every surface and piece of furniture despite the fact that nearly all of the blood is CGI and thus wouldn't be able to wreck anything. If I'm understanding correctly, there are a group of strippers who are sent to a spa in order to make a little more money (unknowingly being prostituted; not sure if this is an invention of the redub or part of the original), where they find a Necronomicon and unleash an army of colorful zombies. There's actually not a lot of action (even less if you consider a big chunk of it is a repeat), and most of the movie finds the girls standing around bickering, which provides plenty of fodder for the redub folks.
Even some of the confusing jokes floored me, like when a character has to kill her zombie sister. As she walks away, the dead one (I think?) suddenly breaks into a long speech about fishing with their father, which is a word for word copy of Walking Dead's much ridiculed scene between Andrea and Amy. The fact that neither of them appear to be talking in the scene did little to kill my amusement at this very random and obscure joke, and it's a shame the movie didn't opt for more of this sort of stuff. Sure, it's probably going to go over a few heads, and takes a little more legwork than having a character talk about her vagina again (a hefty percentage of the jokes concern their not-so-private areas) since someone had to go online and copy the quote down, but it was worth the effort.
And despite the fact that they didn't need to be, some of the jokes are rather inspired, particularly near the end when a giant demon appears. A lot of these movies have out of nowhere "boss" monsters that seem to have been lifted from another story entirely, but only in this one can that be exactly the case. In the original version, he's a department manager from Hell, but as the dubbers explain, he's supposed to be shooting an ogre porn at the same location, and one of the zombie film's actresses was hired for THAT film, not theirs (explaining her random character motivations). Later, the one surviving girl returns to her boss, questioning HIS confusing motives, which again probably didn't make any sense even with the right dialogue. Clever commentary on a particularly story-challenged sub-genre AND lots of boobie jokes? How can you not love it?
The disc's only extra is scene selection, adding to the mystery of how this came together, and leaving me with so many unanswered questions. Who is behind this? Does original writer/director Takao Nakano know that his film has been lampooned? Is it possible to buy this version anywhere (Best Buy and Amazon don't even have it listed; the latter DOES have the original Big Tits Zombie one though), or is it just a rental for Blockbuster? And most importantly: did I make the damn thing up? While looking for answers to the other questions, I found very few (very vague) reviews, and one where the writer didn't seem to be aware that the film was redubbed with different dialogue. I also discovered that there IS a version that provides the original language (with correct English subtitles), along with this dub and the option to watch in its original 3D, under the correct title. So if I had to guess, the team hired to dub the film was given lots of creative license, and it was "so good" that it's getting its own release (with a more store friendly title) that completely hides the original film's existence? What a goddamn wacky endeavor this whole thing is.
What say you?