You know how there’s always one asshole that says, “well, if Jason fucked with ME I’d lay his ass out” or some macho bullshit when they watch slashers? The Zero Boys is made with alpha dogs like that in mind, and as a self-admitted bitch that’d probably end up inadvertently impaled on a tree branch if faced with a ‘roided up super killer, I can safely say there’s some value to it for the layman, too.
THE ZERO BOYS
USA, 1986, Nico Mastorakis
After a victory, the leader of the Zero Boys wins the Jewish Nazi’s girlfriend in a bet. As you’d imagine she’s pretty pissed off by the idea and storms off… Only to join the group, regardless, on their camping trip. It probably made sense to her, I won’t judge. Once the Zero Boys and their lucky, lucky companions – I mean, who DOESN’T dream of being stuck in the woods with dudes who take toy guns a little bit too seriously? – are in full party mode around the campfire, they toss back some beers and exchange spooky stories. Then shit starts to get a little too real for pop guns when they move their party to a weird cabin they find in the woods.
Turns out, the cabin belongs to a group of weirdos who lure unsuspecting campers into their traps, hunt them like animals, and occasionally record the live torture of their victims for, like, slasher villain spank material or something, I dunno. Logically, considering the boys play with paintball guns professionally, they train with real guns and live ammo, which they’ve brought with them on the trip because plot convenience. This leads to the group turning the tables on the backwoods killers and fighting their way – sometimes unsuccessfully – through deadly, deadly traps and shootouts with the goal of escaping the woods and making it back home with a positive K/D.
That’s neat, isn’t it? A slasher where the kids not only have the means to protect themselves, but the training. I mean, that isn’t to say the movie doesn’t fall victim to a lot of the same tropes that plague the genre as a whole, but it’s still got more going for it than most similar movies. Granted, that kind of means the whole concept of scaring the audience through a defenseless proxy is gone, but that leaves the door open for some pretty cool action scenes. The action isn’t even bad like you’d expect out of something like this. The opening paintball battle is actually super fun to watch. It’s a movie that came out when you didn’t see a ton of action-horror and you definitely didn’t see the kind of faux-snuff concepts The Zero Boys plays with nearly as often as you do these days. It’s a simple but cool movie that’s way ahead of its time.
Little bit of bonus info here since I couldn’t find much about the production. I didn’t do a ton of research, but it seems like this might be a case of the filmmaker being more interesting than the film. Which is saying something considering the movie’s fun, like I said. Apparently Nico Mastorakis wasn’t just a director with a super sweet Greek name, he was also a radio producer and journalist to some degree. He was apparently wrapped up in a scandal surrounding some political uprising and had a huge hand in creating Greek television as a whole. Also he made a Police Academy knock off about ninjas. Thanks, Wikipedia.
I say definitely give The Zero Boys a shot. It’s a neat take on slashers, survival horror, and action that, judging by the fact that I hadn’t heard of it in the twenty-five years I’ve walked this Earth, gets overlooked way too often. It’s not the most unique movie of its time nor the best, but it definitely deserves some credit for being as unique as it is in a time where generic slashers were just pouring onto video store shelves like so much red tinted corn syrup. I definitely can’t wait to read more about the director and check out the extras on the blu-ray to learn more about the movie itself.
Availability: So Arrow put out a blu ray. That’s all you need to know. I believe there were a few VHS and DVD releases in various regions before this, but there’s next to no reason to skip on an Arrow release. There’s tons of features and the 2K transfer looks fantastic. If you’re at all interested in checking the movie out, I can’t recommend this release enough.