Peelers lets you know from within the first minute or two just what the main focus is going to be: black oil zombies and titties. Just get ready to spend the first half hour concentrating on building relationships, looking at titties, and establishing Mexicans as the source of our troubles. Before we get to the end, that is, and discover it’s really big oil and weapons developers (or something like that) that are the real baddies. But in case you were worried, a sexy ex-cop with a love of baseball is our real hero. Yes, for a zombie movie set in a strip club that features waterworks and farting to music, Peelers is remarkably conservative at times, even if we don’t focus on what appears to be accidental racism. First things first, though. Peelers is the tale of the last night at a strip club whose name I won’t reveal, as it’s a joke (?) at the end of the film before big money moves in to most likely shut the place down. The club is owned and run by the above-mentioned sexy ex-cop with a love of baseball, Blue Jean (don’t call her B.J. unless you want a baseball to the fucking teeth). There’s not a lot of concern by Blue Jean for the fates of her stripper friends and employees, which is odd, and we never really find out why she’s selling other than the payday. Some backstory here would have been nice, if only to let us know what’s going on emotionally and if the characters have some thoughts about the whole scenario. Luckily, it doesn’t matter if she’s putting everyone out of work because we have undead monsters to contend with and hardly anybody gets out alive. The script, by first-time screenwriter Lisa DeVita is solid enough. She’s got the structure down pretty well and that first half-hour that’s spent building up the characters is okay. She’s got a good imagination and a surprisingly raunchy streak that really brings out the best in the film. More raunch and less sentimentality might have been the way to go here since we’re lacking much insight into the character histories. The attempts to flesh out the characters, as they are, is appreciated but shallow, and ultimately unnecessary given how casually they are dispatched later on. It doesn’t make us care any more about them, mainly because all we really get from the build-up is that they’re comfortable around each other and there are one or two secret crushes. Peelers takes itself pretty seriously most of the time (by which I mean, it’s not an out-and-out comedy) and it doesn’t really work, which sounds like a weird complaint but there’s not enough going on here to really justify the serious attempts to establish characters and relationships. And if we want to examine how these characters relate, then we have to take a look at the subtext. All of the strippers are white except one. The bartender is white. The bouncer is white. There’s even a joke late in the film, when the oil-covered zombies are described as black and our heroes react in shock; as if there would be a black guy in the bar (I think it’s actually a joke that is trying to say “don’t be racist” but it really falls flat). It’s not until the rowdy Mexicans arrive that the trouble really begins. And I called this accidental racism above mainly because they’re not really presented in a bad light. They’re not stereotypes per se, but they’re really the only people of color (other than the obnoxious Asian guy who never even gets in the door and the obnoxious Asian guy who’s in charge of the kitchen) and it’s their arrival that brings the plague of black oil. At least it’s not grease (but the image is always there). The film sets up the rules pretty quickly: don’t touch the black goo. You don’t have to be bitten or die to become a zombie. You don’t even have to have any open wounds for the goo to get into. It just has to touch you and that’s it. You’re a goner. Unless the filmmakers don’t want you dead yet, of course. Blue Jean (Wren Walker) grabs an oil-covered baseball repeatedly, is manhandled repeatedly, and can smash a zombie’s brains out with a baseball bat and not get a drop on her. There’s also some chainsaw action that miraculously doesn’t spread the infection to the person on the floor being saved by said chainsaw action. If this were Ash vs Evil Dead, everybody would be covered and everybody would be fucked. It creates a strange dynamic for what is, ostensibly, a gore-flick. There’s a lot of blood, black and red, but our heroes remain untouched for the most part. And it’s not like they try to stay clean, it’s just a weakness to the fundamental idea of the film. I mean, if you’re a stripper walking around half-clothed and you know that getting this shit on you will turn you into an unkillable monster, shouldn’t you cover up? At least put on a jacket? But they’re strippers and we need to see some skin. There are also some issues with the actual staging of the violence and the use of the set. The bar is established early on as being fairly small. In fact, aside from an extremely well-stocked kitchen, the place is practically cramped. There’s not a lot of room in the actual bar, there’s only one private lap dance room, a bathroom, the dressing room, and Blue Jean’s office. That doesn’t make for a lot of places to hide and it’s a little unbelievable that after the first Mexican goes to the bathroom and proceeds to vomit black goo ALL OVER THE FUCKING PLACE, that nobody else goes to the toilet until around the forty-five-minute mark, when another Mexican goes to the bathroom. None of the white folks in the crowd seem to have much of an urge to pee. But these aren’t going to be deal breakers for most viewers, I’m sure. The fact that we’ve got an original take on the zombie genre is a definite plus and we’ve got an extremely strong female lead in Blue Jean. I just wish she wasn’t an ex-cop, but that’s the punk in me, I guess. I’m not a baseball fan either, but I’m sure there’s going to be a contingent of fans who love sexy ex-cops who love baseball. The stripper performances are okay. There’s nothing too flashy as far as the dancing goes, but oh boy are there some gimmicks. I’m not sure if they’re just included to spice things up and be funny or if they’re meant to be a joke about what a strip club audience will enjoy without really questioning it. Aside from the subtextual issues, the only real problem with the film is that it’s just kind of boring. Which sounds impossible, but is sadly true. The action is well-staged and well-shot. In fact, the whole thing is nicely directed by Sevé Schelenz, making the best of a limited budget but not really pushing any boundaries as far as style goes. There are some nice practical effects scattered throughout, the performances range from very strong (Walker) to good enough, with most falling squarely in the “this is acceptable for a strippers vs zombies movie” category. But for some reason, it doesn’t come together and feels a lot longer than it actually is. On the plus side, the final seconds of the film go super fucking dark. That’s the shit I wanted to see all the way through. Well, I say the final seconds, but there’s actually a pre-credits scene (thanks, Marvel) where we finally get to see Blue Jean strip (a present for those who stuck with it?) in a flashback that solves the mystery of how she got her police motorcycle. It involves stripping (duh), drunk police officers, and a baseball trick that if actually done in real life would probably make you never want to go to a strip club again. There’s also a post-credits scene (thanks, Marvel) that’s not really worth sticking around for. It’s pretty obvious and if there’s ever a sequel we’ll be seeing the return of the baseball bat. And I’ll be totally honest here. I don’t doubt that a sequel could be on the way. This film has enough titties and gore to satisfy most audiences (if the reviews are to be believed). It’s just not my cup of tea. It’s not quite gratuitous enough somehow and lacks the energy that something like a Troma film, for example, would normally bring to the table. Peelers is available on DVD and Blu-ray on July 4th. See larger image Peelers Former baseball player Blue Jean Douglas is closing down her small-town strip club and leaving for good. But her plans are not so easily attained when a group of coal miners show up and with them a deadly contaminant. What starts out as a last hurrah for the infamous strip club, turns into a blood bath. With time running out, Blue Jean must step up to the plate to try and put a stop to the spread of destruction before it’s too late and she loses everything she holds dear. When sold by Amazon.com, this product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media. Amazon.com’s standard return policy will apply. New From: $12.90 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.