Stripped to Kill

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Stripped to Kill
Stripped to kill poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKatt Shea
Produced byMark Byers
Written by
  • Andy Ruben
  • Katt Shea
Music byJohn O'Kennedy
CinematographyJohn LeBlanc
Edited by
Distributed byConcorde Pictures
Release date
  • March 20, 1987 (1987-03-20)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States

Stripped to Kill is a 1987 American erotic thriller/sexploitation film directed by Katt Shea and starring Greg Evigan, Kay Lenz and Norman Fell.[1] Its plot follows a female Los Angeles police detective who goes undercover posing as a stripper to investigate a series of slayings connected to a strip club near Skid Row.


Police officer Cody and her partner, Sergeant Heineman, witness a stripper named Angel being set on fire and thrown over a bridge in Skid Row, Los Angeles. Cody and Heineman begin investigating the crime, and Cody decides to pose undercover as a stripper at Rock Bottom, the club where the murdered woman was employed. The club's owner, Ray, allows her to do this. She begins to dance at the club after taking lessons from the other dancers, using the alias "Sunny."

Cody's first dance is not well-received, but her abilities slowly increase, and the process of posing as a stripper begins to impact her personal life. Heineman, who has romantic feelings toward her, is uncomfortable with her dancing at the club. Tensions rise between them, and one night they begin to initiate sex, but Heineman stops himself from proceeding. One night outside the club, one of the dancers, Cinnamon, is strangled to death by the assailant with a metal cord.

Meanwhile, Heineman investigates a series of potential suspects, including a janitor at the club, but finds he could not have committed the murders as he is an amputee and is missing a hand. Cody visits Roxanne, one of the strippers from the club, at her apartment one night. In the closet, Cody finds the corpse of Roxanne's neighbor, and Roxanne reveals herself to be in fact Eric, Roxanne's brother, dressed in drag; he has been posing and performing as his dead sister at the club wearing fake latex breasts.

Eric rambles to Cody about his traumatic childhood, and explains that he killed Roxanne because she had diverted her attention from him to Angel, her lover, and allowed her to move into their home. Heineman arrives at the apartment in the middle of the confrontation, and is shot multiple times by Eric. Cody flees into the alleyway, and runs back to Rock Bottom. Eric arrives to confront her, but is set on fire by the women and killed. Heineman arrives shortly after, having survived the gunshots due to a bulletproof vest, and he and Cody embrace.


  • Kay Lenz as Cody / Sunny
  • Greg Evigan as Sergeant Heineman
  • Norman Fell as Ray
  • Tracy Crowder as Fanny
  • Athena Worthey as Zeena
  • Carlye Byron as Cinnamon
  • Debbie Nassar as Dazzle
  • Lucia Nagy Lexington as Brandy
  • Michelle Foreman as Angel
  • Pia Kamakahi as Eric / Roxanne
  • Tom Ruben as Mobile Entrepreneur
  • Diana Bellamy as Shirl



The film was inspired by a visit Katt Shea and her husband and writing partner Andy Ruben made to a strip club.[2]

"I didn't want to go because I felt it was humiliating to women," recalls Shea. "But I finally got myself there. I sat down and began watching these acts and they're performing as if they really cared."[3]

Shea later elborated:

Before I did STRIPPED TO KILL you had never seen a girl dancing on a pole, no one had ever seen that in a movie, to my knowledge. Girls swinging around on a pole--that had not been done yet. So I think that was spectacular; it was crazy, it was wild. This is how it happened. I went to a strip club for the first time in my life and I saw a girl swinging around on a pole and I thought, ‘Oh my god this has got to be in a movie!’ I mean, nobody knows this goes on except a bunch of guys with dollar bills, so it just had to be exploited, I guess. I thought they were very artistic and I just loved the girls, they were real artists and they were just using this particular venue to explore their art.[4]

She took the idea to Roger Corman for whom she had made a number of movies as an actor. Corman says he liked the basic idea but questioned the believability of a scene where a man went undercover as a stripper. Shea brought in a female impersonator to see Corman and had him describe to the producer who to pretend to be a stripper. "He [Corman] turned every shade," recalls Shea. "He was purple by the end. But then he said yes."[3]

Lenz was worried about playing a stripper at age 34 until she found out in research many of the strippers had college student children.[5]


Kay Lenz complained publicly about the film's editing and "exploitative" ad campaign aimed at the print media.[6]


The Los Angeles Times said the film "fulfills its sex and violence quota-actually, it's fairly tame in these departments-but also has some style and substance as well. "[7]

The film was a hit and led to a sequel, shot on the same set as Dance of the Damned. The sequel was also directed by Shea who took her name off because of Corman's editing interference.[8]


  1. ^ A Conversation with Katt Shea
  2. ^ Chris Nashawaty, Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen and Candy Stripe Nurses - Roger Corman: King of the B Movie, Abrams, 2013 p 199
  3. ^ a b How 'Poison Ivy' Got Its Sting: The studio wanted a teen-age 'Fatal Attraction.' Katt Shea's movie may be more than that. 'Poison Ivy': Art or Exploitation? By LAURIE HALPERN BENENSON. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 03 May 1992: 70.
  4. ^ "Director Katt Shea talks about her 1980's Roger Corman produced films" TV Store Online 3 Feb 2015 accessed 21 April 2015
  5. ^ OUTTAKES: THE SEQUEL THE LATEST FOX Pecchia, David. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]28 Dec 1986: U80.
  6. ^ With reports from Stephen Galloway., Frank Swertlow. "HOLLYWOOD FREEWAY - KAY LENZ UPSET ABOUT CORMAN'S 'DECEPTION'." Daily News of Los Angeles (CA) 9 Jul. 1987, Valley, L.A. LIFE: L20. NewsBank. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.
  7. ^ MOVIE REVIEW `STRIPPED TO KILL' HAS SOME MEAT ON ITS BONES: [Home Edition] Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]29 June 1987: 5.
  8. ^ Chris Nashawaty, Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen and Candy Stripe Nurses - Roger Corman: King of the B Movie, Abrams, 2013 p 201

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