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About six months ago I copied a bunch of movies I've been meaning to watch onto my laptop in hopes that while on a trip, or over my mom's doing laundry, I would find the time and effort to watch them. A few of them I have watched, but largely this group of 6 or 7 films has gone untouched. Today I finally got the will to watch a film called The Zero Boys.
I had download.. erhm, I mean rented it about 4 or 5 months ago after I re-watched the 80's Dawn of the Dead inspired slasher-flick: Chopping Mall. While browsing the IMDb, I noticed that cult actress and Night of the Comet alum Kelli Maroney was in a film described as an "action / slasher / horror" film. I had to see this.
After watching the film and while doing my dishes, I was trying to concoct a clever and hip metaphor for this film: "it's what a teen slasher film would be like if Polanski directed it." No, Polanski would make it more confusing. "It's like a Golan-Globus produced slasher film." Maybe, but a film produced by those great Greek gods of Chuck Norris would've put more than only one explosion in it, and surely there'd be boobies. As I continued these ridiculous metaphors in my head, the more I realized that as much as The Zero Boys failed as a film, it was strikingly entertaining.
The film opens during a "weekend warrior" game between two groups of college-aged kids. The clever director of this film, Nico Mastorakis, has cut this opening scene with such disguise -- it FEELS as though something quite real is going on here, but we soon realize it's just a game of paint ball (and a dull one at that). This is where we are introduced to our main character: Steve. Steve is a strong, leader type pretty boy with a patented 80s haircut. His two friends Rip and Larry are apparently the kings of paint ball, as they have just defeated some kid in a Nazi uniform.
The plot really thickens up when we learn that the Nazi kid has wagered his own girlfriend on his paint ball skills. Not only has Steve won $20, he has now earned the right to court the buxom, catty, blond Jamie (played by the aforementioned Kelli Marony).
Soon the group are somehow on a picnic in the woods, and sooner then you can say "Sam Raimi," they've found a creepy looking deserted cabin. For one reason or another, the group decides to stay here even though strange things continue to happen during their stay.
What follows is for the most part standard slasher fare. Lots of POV shots looking at the cabin from outside, lots of screaming. One thing that was completely out of the ordinary was the order in which characters were killed. As a standard: characters having sex in slasher films are usually offed during, or quickly after the act of coitus (or as Rip says: "coitus interuptus"). When watching this film, I was pleasantly surprised at the level of non-conformity when it came to typical slasher style.
The film doesn't quite deliver on it's interesting middle section. Even the subtle references to Argento's Suspiria can't quite save it. When it comes down to it, the best film to compare this to would have to be Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes. For one thing: the villains in that film are never really explained. They live in the desert, they inbreed, they eat humans. These things we can take for granted, we can understand this because of how these characters look and talk; they're complete freaks. In a slight contrast, we never really see too much of the villains in this film. Not until the end, and I was quite confused by the costume designer's choice. One of the killers in the film is wearing a sweater and polo shirt. And quite strangely, once we see his face, he looks, somewhat normal. It's not clear why the director never introduces or develops the villains, not that it was needed, but in light of their strange weapon choices and dressing styles, I would've been interested.
The Zero Boys isn't a typical 80's teen horror film, and for that it's a relatively fun, yet somewhat dull film. Recommended viewing with: Night of the Comet, The Hills Have Eyes, Friday the 13th Part III, Chopping Mall.
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