The Burlesque Assassins goes for broad parody (nudge nudge)
Credit where it’s due: The Burlesque Assassins features one of the best eye-stabbings we’ve seen in a while. The rest of Jonathan Joffe’s Calgary-made feature can be a little grating, depending on your tolerance for very broad parody, dodgy accents, dumb jokes, and, of course, yards of flesh.
The story, such as it is, involves the recruiting of monster-boobed, rock ‘n’ roll bruiser Bourbon Sue into Johnny Valentine’s titular corp of post-war spies. Yes, titular.
We can tell she’s equipped for the work because she shit kicks and then robs two greasers in one of the film’s first and best scenes. Minutes later, Bourbon Sue is parachuting out of a plane along with Bombshell Bell (Kiki Kaboom) and Koko La Douce (Koko La Douce), in pursuit of a contraband Nazi atomic death ray (what else?)
“Taking on the most diabolical and evil minds in existence, seducing and killing them all in defense of freedom and democracy… You got something better to do?” asks Johnny Valentine, having Shanghai’d the reluctant Betty into the caper.
As Bourbon and Johnny, Roxy Dlite and Armitage Shanks are both better than the film’s so-bad-it’s-kinda-good-in-places ambitions. Joffe also compensates with some decent gore, weaponized fans and pasties, and a few brief moments of glossy necro-fetishism (or maybe that was me).
We also definitely appreciate seeing and hearing our friends the Ramblin’ Ambassadors in an early scene, but generally everything is pitched in the key of low comedy or high camp, like a subplot involving Benito Mussolini Jr. and a hideously overplayed Hitler clone.
The Assassins are also on the hunt for a mole. Not the kind you see on the underside of a perfectly cantilevered badonga, although we see plenty of those, too. Joffe hangs all of this hokum off of a series of lovingly shot routines by some of the bigger names in the burlesque world, like Kitten de Ville, Scarlett Martini, and Kellita, and this is where the film really delivers. If burlesque is your bag, you’ll probably love every beautiful looking minute.
The Rio Theatre is presenting The Burlesque Assassins as a red carpet affair on Wednesday (July 18), with stars Carrie Schiffler and Matthew Graham in attendance. Patrons will also be treated to performances by Vancouver’s own burlesque divas, Lola Frost, Melody Mangler, and April O’Peel.
You can follow Adrian Mack's contribution to the lobotomizing techno-nightmare known as Twitter at @AdrianMacked.