Strippers vs Werewolves (2012)
Director: Jonathan Glendening
Cast: Adele Silva, Martin Compston, Billy Murray
Synopsis: When werewolf chief Jack Ferris is accidentally killed in a strip club the girls who work there have until the next full moon before his bloodthirsty wolfpack seek murderous retribution.
There are some movie titles that are simply impossible to resist: Hobo with a Shotgun, Hell Comes to Frogtown, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, even How to Stuff a Wild Bikini. Their titles call to you like siren mermaids lounging on a rocky outcrop, luring you in, and immersing you in something you know can only end badly but which you find yourself powerless to prevent. Because, more often than not, the titles are the best thing about the entire movie. If the rest of the movie was as great as the title, it would be one of the most compellingly imaginative pieces of work ever committed to film.
Equally impossible to resist is the opportunity to catch up with former soap stars whose appearance in a movie has probably rescued them from a season in panto for at least one more year. Strippers vs. Werewolves has them in abundance: Billy Murray and Martin Kemp were both Eastenders villains, the cute and diminutive Adele Silva was a femme fatale in Emmerdale, Lysette Anthony was in The Bill, as was Alan Ford in various guises. Ford, probably familiar to most from his appearances in Guy Ritchie’s Cockney Gangster sagas, also appears in the forthcoming Cockneys vs. Zombies – and I can already hear the strange, alluring music of those sirens…
Strippers vs. Werewolves pretty much proves the theory of reverse correlation between great title and crap movie, although there‘s evidence of a kind of mildly endearing, ham-fisted enthusiasm which engenders a degree of goodwill on the part of the audience – everyone on the screen looks like they’re having so much fun that we really don’t want to feel as if we’re missing out. Silva stars as Justice, exotic dancer at a strip joint who stabs an over-zealous punter (Kemp in a blink-and-you-miss-him cameo) in the eye with a silver pen when he begins making moves on her. The stab wound proves fatal – not only because sharp objects forcefully inserted into the human head usually are, but because the punter is a werewolf, for whom silver is 100per cent terminally bad news. The trouble is, the punter was part of a gang led by Jack Ferris (Murray) who don’t take kindly to their members being murdered and vow revenge just as soon as the next full moon enables them to turn strong and hairy. Even worse, one of the gang members (Martin Compston) also happens to be Justice’s boyfriend.
While Strippers vs. Werewolves isn’t quite as bad as some would have you believe, what could have been an entertainingly silly spoof movie is let down by a lame script and some laughable werewolf make-up. Seriously, these werewolves are even less convincing (and scary) than Oddbod and Oddbod Jr. from Carry On Screaming. No doubt this is down to the movie’s minuscule budget, but you can’t help feeling the make-up department were as bereft of imagination and ingenuity as they were of dollars. The lack of money also means we don’t get to see any lupine transformations so that, effects-wise, Strippers vs. Werewolves doesn’t even hold its own against those ancient Lon Chaney Jr B-movie sequences from the 1940s. While the script by Pat Higgins and Phillip Barron does contain some decent lines – “Oh, look,” deadpans Ferris as one of the strippers stumbles upon his gang just after they’ve mauled her boyfriend to death. “It’s Meals on Heels.” – they’re too few and far between, and too many times the humour is unfunny and predictable. Horror-comedy is a notoriously difficult genre to pull off, and when writers fail the result is particularly damaging.
On the plus side, Strippers vs. Werewolves does boast some surprisingly high-profile cameos. The highly acclaimed Steven Berkoff puts in an appearance early on as a sadistic gangster who falls foul of the werewolf pack, while Robert Englund continues to trade on his iconic horror status by appearing in one completely superfluous two-minute scene that adds nothing to the movie other than his name on its promotional material. There’s plenty of severed limbs for those who like that kind of thing, and a surprisingly small measure of nudity given the exploitation title, which is reflected in the movie’s 15 rating.