Review: Strippers vs. Werewolves / Director: Jonathan Glendening / Screenplay: Pat Higgins, Philip Barron / Starring: Adele Silva, Robert Englund, Billy Murray, Martin Kemp, Ali Bastian, Steven Berkoff / Release date: April 27th
Strippers vs. Werewolves, as its title suggests, sets out as a deliberate piece of grindhouse cinema. It’s basically girls with guns against lycanthropes. Nothing wrong with that, I reckon. Strippers vs. Werewolves is meant as an unassuming romp – a bit of sleazy fun, which, for the most part, it is. The problem is that it should be more fun. Like too many independent British films, Strippers vs. Werewolves suffers from a weak script (by Pat Higgins and Philip Barron) and that makes it drag all too often when it should be flying.
When stripper, Justice (Adele Silva) is attacked by a werewolf punter, Mickey, (Martin Kemp) at the Silverdollarz strip club, she defends herself by stabbing him in the eye with a silver pen, killing him instantly. Club boss Jeannette (Sarah Douglas) orders the body disposed of, but it turns out that Mickey belonged to a bloodthirsty pack of werewolves led by the charming and vicious Jack Ferris (played by Billy Murray). Jack orders his pack to hunt down Mickey’s killers and exact bloody vengeance, but the werewolves haven’t counted on the resilience of the strippers, who band together to defend themselves and maybe exact some vengeance of their own.
Adele Silva gives an appealing performance as Justice, the sweet natured stripper who discovers her own mettle when she inadvertently catches the lycanthropy curse from fiancé, Scott (Martin Compston), whom she doesn’t realise is second in command to wolf man Jack. Quite endearing, too are Barbara Nedeljakova and Ali Bastian as Justice’s side-kicks, Raven and Dani, both of whom have boyfriend problems of their own. The three of them together make quite a team, and are more than a match for the hapless werewolves.
The problem is that Strippers vs. Werewolves really only gets on its paws in the final reel – for the showdown between the Strippers and the Werewolves, where the girls get to kick some ass and shoot some guns. The final ten minutes fulfil the promise of the title in all its grindhouse glory, but viewers may find getting to it a bit of a chore.
The werewolf gang, it has to be said, are not up to much. They’re a pretty crass bunch (including a mohawk-headed punk and a masturbating man-child) and not all that convincing as the gang of cockney criminals which they are partly meant to be. Strippers vs. Werewolves, I’m afraid, also tries to draw on the Lock Stock gang thriller – the type of which we thought we had seen the last of ten years ago. The casting of Billy Murray (best known as crime boss Johnny Allen in EastEnders) adds to this attempt at genre-cross over. There are also the usual Guy Richie-esque stylistic clichés such as freeze frames on characters as they are introduced with a subtitle giving their name. This presumably attempts to make up for the lack of any real characterisation of the gang members.
Alongside Martin Kemp there is a whole raft of cameos from the likes of Steven Berkoff, Lysette Anthony and Alan Ford. Robert Englund gets star billing as imprisoned alpha wolf, Tapper, but is only in one scene. These cameos are obviously meant to improve the film’s marquee value but, unfortunately, also add to the mish-mash, as the focus is all too often taken off the main story in order to accommodate the cameos.
Director Jonathan Glendening does his best to marshal the elements and injects a bit of vitality into the flagging script with some winning stylistic flourishes. Sometimes he goes overboard with the split screen and the comic book-type graphics but he is a director to watch.
If you can make it to the showdown you will enjoy seeing the girls kick some hairy werewolf butt, as I did. Silva, Nedeljakova and Bastian make it worth staying for. A sequel with these three in it please (Strippers vs. Vampires, anyone?). Oh, and a better script.