DVD REVIEW: PEELERS (2016)

Peelers_Canadian_VODPEELERS, an independent horror film directed by Sevé Schelenz and written by Lisa Devita from a story by Schelenz and Devita, is a story probably fairly common to horror fans who watch

these genre films in which a zombie-like outbreak occurs inside a small-town strip club. Not a very complicated plot nor an original idea, but as evidence has shown us ( us being those that have seen a handful of the horror films involving strippers and zombies and/or monsters), many have come and royally fucked up a simple enough concept of combining horror and sexy strippers. Thankfully, director Schelenz did NOT screw PEELERS up and made an entertaining entry into the select number of films featuring the scantily clad women vigorously vying for the opposite sex’s attention in a strip club and, more importantly, their green dollar bills.

The plot of PEELERS is a generally simple plot revolving around a small-town strip club owner Blue Jean Douglas closing down her strip club and leaving town for good. Blue Jean, portrayed by the extremely sexy yet tough-looking actress Wren Walker (a.k.a. Wren Lorbetski), was also a former baseball player and even has her bat hung up on the wall to deal with rambunctious patrons who follow the Bill Cosby rule of sexual engagement where exposing bare midriff is an open invitation to sex and more. Walker is a cast well as Blue Jean because the actress possesses a hardened edge to her beauty and looks to be toned and muscular enough to pass off as a professional athlete, dancer, or avid fitness expert herself. She portrays a kind-hearted yet tough woman who runs her own business and deals with the regular type of rowdy asshole that can generally frequent a strip club. This strip club serves alcohol, so on hand is the beefcake muscle-head Remy (Caz Odin Darko) on hand (complete with tough-guy tribal tattoos covering his arms) to deal with any undesirables. Paired with the humorous goofball-ish bartender Tony (Cameron Dent), the two men running the front end of the club complement each other’s vastly opposite demeanor quite nicely. Although, I found it extremely more-than-odd when a customer randomly brought in his broken chainsaw for Tony to fix. Doesn’t every bartender also have the knowledge to repair broken tools like chainsaws and have no problem with a regular customer bringing them into their place of business? I let the writing of the random chainsaw into the script with the ultra-weak explanation of it making it into the bar with the hope that at least there would be some serious bloodshed involving that one saw. I was right. There was.

Getting back to the intricate plot: Local miners come in to celebrate striking oil at the mining site and the oil they struck is not actually regular oil. The oil upon touch infects them and turns them into spewers of vile black muck. They are now vomiting, flesh-ravenous, men (and women)-eating infected, zombielike cannibals that are not the George A. Romero slow-moving and dim-witted variety but more the frenetic and savagely speedy Danny Boyle/ Alex Garland 28 DAYS LATER– variety that attack unexpectedly and implement quite the diversity of deadly tools against their victims.

Wren WalkerThere were some key factors involved and expectations when I watch a film whose premise is strippers and zombies (turned into zombies through black oil infection): nudity, blood, and gore. That was all I was expecting. If there was some witty dialogue thrown in there– Fucking great! If some of the actors actually had some acting talent and didn’t just give a zombie-like performance when they were not cast as a zombie—Even fucking better! Did the pace of the film move along faster than a traditional zombie from Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD? It better or the film was going to lose me halfway in. PEELERS met and exceeded ALL of my expectations. My only major critique would be that I was hoping for a bit more nudity, both top and bottom, and that there was zero CGI used and only practical effects, but I do understand that CGI is far cheaper and easier to incorporate into a film, especially in post-production and I really was just happy that there were some pretty cool special effects scenes that were done without computers. I have always been an ardent supporter of organic special effects.

Wren Walker was the lead in PEELERS and she is a strong lead actress. I thought that Walker was, along with the young actor portraying her brother, Logan (Madison J. Loos) (who reminded me of Justin Beiber the entire time) two of the stronger performances within the film. Walker was a very believable badass and I felt she became her character through and through in each scene she was in. Every reaction she gave on her face really seemed organic and helped to make her character very memorable. Loos (Logan) and her had chemistry on the screen and were a good fit for each other. As for the rest of the cast, they got the job done but I really was just waiting for the blood and guts show to start and boy did it ever!

After only three minutes, we get some stripper nudity. The overall pacing of the film could have been slightly faster, as there were times that I could care less about the slim backstory and just wanted more nudity and more blood and gore. I felt that if there was any dancing on stage occurring, there better be some full-frontal nudity or at least some nice breast and ass shots. After all, this is a strip club and viewers sort of expect it in an indie horror flick. What was lost in not having quite as much nudity as this perverted viewer was counting on, was more than made up for in the ingenuity of the various strip teases and performances. Where do I begin? Let’s start with “Baby” (Nikki Wallin), who wears a diaper-like bottom and carries a large baby bottle. The cute vixen also just happens to…well, I do not want to spoil this scene but I will tell everyone that I was not expecting it and I was cracking up, showering my apartment with laughter, immediately after viewing it. The scene was golden! The director and writers definitely had fun with the dance routines that were edited into the story as other nefarious events were slowly building up. I thought the serious plot points balanced well in the story as victims start (literally) piling up and coming back to life, than cutting back to the goofball stripper routines. If Baby’s routine does not bring a smile or slightly disgusted look across one’s face, maybe Frankie’s (Momona Komagata) routine will when you hear her “thunder gun“.

zombieI know I griped a bit about there being CGI used, but it was sparingly used and most of the better scenes of carnage were done practically. PEELERS has one unlucky dancer impaled on animal horns very reminiscent of Linnea Quigley’s death by impalement on a set of antlers in SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. Although, it is always a shame to see a nice pair of breasts ruined by serious disfigurement. Another fun scene is a decent decapitation in the kitchen involving the “Head” Chef (Jason Asuncion as Farmer John), as well as a pregnant stripper who gives birth and gives viewers a different insight into the term “afterbirth” or placental expulsion. There certainly were some extra anatomical expulsions when Licorice/Carla (Kirsty Peters) meets her maker. I also witnessed the breaking of a pregnant woman’s amniotic sac fluids used in a most ingenious way. There is guts and gore galore once the club is emptied out and it is just the staff and talent left to deal with the “dead”. I wondered why the girls’ were not told to leave too, but maybe that just shows the fortitude of a tough working girl and her allegiance to a stand-up gal like Blue Jean.

Amidst the blood and gore, we learn a little bit about the remaining characters left standing, and everything in the story comes together and it all makes sense. The one thing I did not understand was the title of the movie. Did I miss the connection to the title PEELERS? As in they peel their clothes off while stripping? Was that it? Regardless, it is a unique title to a film that a handful of the other horror filmmakers made with similar subject-matter and premise, but were less ingenious with naming their movies. When I think of other stripper films with “stripper” in the title, not having “stripper” in the title immediately does not push potential viewers away who don’t want just a horror movie with strippers in it. Like I said, the past 10 years horror fans have been given ZOMBIE STRIPPERS (2008), ZOMBIES! ZOMBIES! ZOMBIES! (2008),  STRIPPERLAND (2011), ZOMBIES VS. STRIPPERS (2012), STRIPPERS VS. WEREWOLVES (2012), and STRIP CLUB MASSACRE (2017). What differentiates these from each other? I DON’T FUCKING REMEMBER. Some of them were that bad and non-memorable. They are all just horror films with “stripper” in the title and a couple of them have Robert Englund in them and that just strikes me as slightly unique. Kinda awesome actually if Robert Englund is in your stripper movie. Sevé, was Robert not free? I do know that PEELERS will stand alone by NOT having “stripper” in the title and therefore not being defined unfairly by its title alone.

peelers groupPEELERS never really tries to be something more than it is: A B-Grade (high B-Grade) Indie horror film that has fun with its plot and story, gives the audience what it expects, and viewers get even a little bit more with better than average acting talent in lead actress Wren Walker as Blue Jean and Madison J. Loos as her little brother Logan. I really enjoyed the creativity in the special effects department and appreciated Keir Vichert not solely relying on CGI for blood and gore for all deaths, as well as the creative gimmicks that the strippers employed in their various dance routines. The film also has replay value to it. It is not one of those “One and done” flicks I get through that was only worth the one viewing, being tossed into the pile of no return. I can see this film being appreciated and granting more than one view and that is primarily due to the caliber of gore and special effects, the witty dialogue and humor integrated to each stripper’s dance routine, and the better than average acting employed. If the money is not there, put what money there is into the blood and gore in a horror film and find decent actors to bring it to life through a decent script. The rest will all fall into place usually, as it did in PEELERS.

wren walker 2I was fortunate to receive a retail copy of the film from Uncork’d Entertainment, so let’s get into the why’s and why not’s of should one buy this dvd  and add it to their collection of horror flicks. I will begin by saying this: The Special Features are as fun to watch as the movie itself…well, almost. The movie is funner and has nice tits but…horror fiends that like to go behind the scenes of a film will be very happy with what is offered. Over 40+ minutes of extras! We get the usual Teaser and Theatrical Trailers of the film (which I dug for the classical music used in both trailers). We also get a small amount of Deleted Scenes (showing viewers that the director was right in cutting them out as they did not really add much to given scenes) but the Gag Reel is pretty fun to watch. Actors screwing up is always good for laughs. I would say this was my favorite extra feature, but that was until I saw the Behind The Scenes portion and the incredibly awesome and well narrated Getting A-Head segment with Special Effects Supervisor and Make-Up Artist Keir Vichert. The segment was extremely interesting, thorough, and a step-by-step how to for the decapitation scene in the film and a testament to how much planning, time, and hard work goes into one awesome practical effects scene and why it usually looks far better than some computer graphic imagery. There is also a Script to Scene bit and the Digital Comic link (mine did not work but I also did not buy the film). The film is presented in widescreen format and the audio is presented in 2.0 Stereo or Dolby 5.1 Surround, as well as a Director’s Commentary with Sevé Schelenz and writer Lisa Devita, talking about the various aspects of independent horror filmmaking and making PEELERS.

The final thought on PEELERS is run out and grab it on DVD and/or BLU-RAY on July 4th in the U.S. and head over to the Facebook Page for more details about other outlets to view and/or stream this bad boy…err…bad girl seems more fitting, right?!?!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *