For a nation that has such a fine tradition in the genres of both horror and comedy, Britain hasn’t done quite so well in combining the two. Probably the best two horror comedies to come from these shores, Theatre of Blood (1973) and An American Werewolf in London (1981), were both dreamed up by Americans, even though they utilised British locations and talent on both sides of the camera. When left to ourselves, us Brits have unfortunately been more likely to come up with rather lower quality fare like I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (1990) and Lesbian Vampire Killers (2009).
And so we come to Strippers vs Werewolves, another ultra low-budget British horror comedy, but one that’s actually rather better than the last two films I’ve mentioned above. To appreciate Strippers vs Werewolves properly it is important to appreciate its pedigree (sorry), and understand that it isn’t going to be the aggressively sexual sleazefest such a title might suggest if this film had been made by someone like Jess Franco in the Spain or Italy of the 1970s. No, once one gets past the disappointment that this is a British comedy, with all the lack of eroticism that label still sadly implies, Strippers vs Werewolves is actually rather sweet, with some personable characterisations, a couple of good gags, and some recognisable star turns to help keep things ticking along.
Martin Kemp is Mickey, who, while enjoying a lap dance from the schoolgirl-attired Justice (Adele Silva), gets a bit overexcited and turns into a werewolf. Not sure what to do she stabs him through the eye with her fountain pen, which just happens to be made of silver. The club is owned by Jeanette (Sarah Douglas) who, not wanting any trouble, orders Mickey’s body to be disposed of. Unfortunately Mickey’s part of a werewolf gang who are now on the hunt for him and want revenge. It all ends in the titular showdown at the club, with a somewhat unexpected outcome and the most bizarre idea for a sequel hook seen in a long time.
If viewed kindly Strippers vs Werewolves isn’t that bad at all. It obviously didn’t cost very much, and while some of the storytelling at the beginning is a little awkward, once it settles down the film is far more watchable than a lot of DVD fare that’s currently available. There’s a significant lack of nudity but this isn’t really meant to be a sexy film, more a silly one. Consequently the werewolf makeups look closer to Roger Sloman’s furry secretary from Milton Subotsky’s The Monster Club (1980) than anything Rick Baker et al might have come up with. There’s an endearing fanboy approach to the proceedings as well, with at least one nod to American Werewolf and a fun performance from Simon Phillips as a vampire hunter who, together with Barbara Nedeljakova as his girlfriend Raven, got all the laugh-out-loud moments from me. Robert Englund is in there as well as the leader of the werewolves and Stephen Berkoff pops up at the start for a bit of gangland torture.
Strippers vs Werewolves is not a film to watch if you like your horror serious, but if you’re in a forgiving mood it’s a pretty good timewaster, and better than a lot of previous British horror comedies, as well as being far more enjoyable and better made than some contemporary straight to DVD BritHorror out there.
JOHN LLEWELLYN PROBERT
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