Strippers vs. Werewolves isn’t dumb.
It begins with a very cheap shot of a strip joint exploding in a ball of flame. It then cuts to a long shot of a man entering another strip joint, and as he passes by the various girls scattered around the floor, we get little vignettes for each one. This one trips, that one pushes away a customer, and this other one looks out over the tables with her brows furrowed. For each, a name pops up. We now have a sense of our cast, and we’re 2 minutes in.
I was impressed.
The film then progresses into its main plot. A pack of werewolves roams the streets. They’re basically local mafia, with the added horror that they’ll rip your foot off, then eat it in front of you.
This works partly because it’s a British production. These feel like Shakespearean actors, radiating intense presence. Of course, a few play simple buffoons, but the others…you can feel their history and their desires.
The werewolves soon cross paths with the strippers. This would be a one-sided matter, except that the strip club’s owner knows one of the werewolves. Their history goes way back. This is personal. And it gets even more personal.
The tense nature of the plot is marred somewhat by the special effects. the werewolves look more like punk vampires with mutton chops than beast-men.
Fortunately, the tone frequently bounces out of intensity into a light-hearted parody of its subjects. The werewolves are mostly frat boys, the strippers are mostly not very bright, and one of the strippers’ boyfriends is an overweight, perpetually nervous vampire hunter. One of the movie’s running gags involves phone conversations between the two, as she’s just trying to get a piece of information from him while he’s frantically defending himself from anonymous vampires.
The plot also plays to the lopsided nature of the conflict. The werewolves outmatch the strippers physically and (most of them) intellectually. The strippers have to outwit the werewolves, which only stalls for time. You really wonder how they’re going to get out of it–and they don’t all get out of it–and the ending feels satisfying.
While not high art, and not complex, Strippers vs. Werewolves delivers an alternately tense and light-hearted horror experience.