BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
The Zero Boys is a forgotten entry in the horror genre. While it has the abandoned cabin in the woods and a group of horny teenagers out looking for a good evening of fun, The Zero Boys throws together several different genres and winds up creating a blended atmosphere of action and horror and torture and sex that future filmmakers would later capitalize upon. It's as if its director, Nico Mastorakis (Island of Death), couldn't care less about his film being pinned down or fitting into a marketable category. And, truly, this is the film's strength.
The Zero Boys are Steve (Daniel Hirsch), Rip (Jared Moses), and Larry (Tom Shell) and, as the flick opens, they are engaged in a shoot-out to bring down all others. It is an epic fight that – as there is no blood but lots of bodies flaying about – suggest things are not what they seem. It's a paintball battle and the two teams are fighting over a weekend with Jamie (Kelli Maroney), only she doesn't know that her boyfriend has optioned her as the prize. Casey (John Michaels) is such a dick to do that to her and she lets him know it when she agrees to go with The Zero Boys after they bring down his team of sharpshooters.
Sue (Nicole Rio) and Trish (Crystal Carson) join Jamie as go off with The Zero Boys for a weekend of fun. None of them could ever guess what sort of sickos await them in the woods. Complete with its own breed of depraved and dangerous hillbillies, The Zero Boys quickly shifts into Deliverance territory after the gang of teens take shelter in an abandoned cabin.
The shadows move. The phone cuts in and out and so does the electricity. They see figures in the darkness. They feel watched. Well, they ARE watched and when the girls discover a mutilated female body in a luggage trunk, the good times are over. The boys grab their guns and go on high alert while someone outside taunts them with screams, hoots, and hollers from a well-lighted barn. You'd think finding someone in there would be easy. It proves to be anything but easy for The Zero Boys.
This is a film, made at the height of the VHS craze, that definitely refuses to play by the established rules. On the surface it walks like an action flick but, for those willing to dig a bit deeper, you see the creepier side of this gung-ho offering. With references to the popular culture of its time period (specifically Rambo and Friday the 13th), The Zero Boys rocks out with a swagger of confidence lacking in most low-budget flicks. The characters might be mere caricatures for most of the film, yet there is an intelligence to the dialogue that suggests more brains than brawn.
The film was shot in 17 nights. It definitely shows and I actually like that about the ragtag ruggedness of the film; it feels very real and very immediate. The performances are rushed and, when the film enters into snuff territory, the fear the actors display practically tips from their red party cup into your lap. It's also steady in its mission to shake up the status quo of slasher expectations. Sure, we can continue to ignore it for being cheap and one-dimensional and everything else that comes with the exploitation genre but, honestly, to do so is discrediting just how outside the norm of the 1980s The Zero Boys actually was.
Released by Arrow Video with a brand new 4K restoration, The Zero Boys blu-ray debut almost makes the almighty machismo of the 1980s forgivable.
MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime: 89 mins
Director: Nico Mastorakis
Writer: Robert Gilliam, Nico Mastorakis
Cast: Daniel Hirsch, Kelli Maroney, Nicole Rio
Genre: Horror | Thriller
Tagline: Dawn Of A New Breed Of Heroes
Memorable Movie Quote: ""
Release Date: No theatrical release
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: April 26, 2016
Synopsis: A group of friends travel to a wilderness area to play a survival game. Soon they unexpectedly find themselves in a real-life survival situation.
Available on Blu-ray - April 26, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio:English: LPCM 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); DVD copy
Region Encoding: Region-free playback
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 by Arrow Video, the 4K restoration of The Zero Boys (completed by Deluxe Restoration, London) is the strongest-looking the film will ever be. The scan was approved by director Nico Mastorakis and does not disappoint. It shines with a nice pop to some of the colors. Edges are strong and flesh tones accurate. Black levels are deep and grain levels are of a good quality. The original 2.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-Ray) with subtitles in English supports Hans Zimmer's electronic soundtrack.
- Moderated by Writer and Filmmaker Chris Alexander, the commentary with Maroney is an active listening experience as she opens up about some stories from the filming of the movie. What she doesn't know, Alexander fills in – being a former editor for Fangoria and GoreZone – he obviously knows his schtuff.
Arrow Video are quickly becoming my preferred handlers of B-movies with Scream Factory a close second. With this release, they continue their fine streak of releases and supplemental items. Included in this release are a bevy of GREAT supplemental items, including reversible cover art featuring the original artwork and newly commissioned pieces by Graham Humphreys. An essay written by James Oliver is also included in booklet form. The interviews include a hilarious one in which Mastorakis interviews himself. Some secrets are revealed about how he created the impression of violence without actually going there. Maroney talks about her time on the set and her confusion about one of the actors and who they actually were. Actress Nicole Rio is the third interview. With two music videos and a still gallery rounding out the collection, this is a solid release.
- Nico Mastorakis on... Nico Mastorakis (28 min)
- Zero Girl-Brand New Interview with Kelli Maroney (8 min)
- Blame it on Rio-Brand New Interview with Nicole Rio (8 min)
- Music Videos (1 min)
- Theatrical Trailer (3 min)
- Still Gallery (1 min)