The Movie Waffler Blu-Ray Review - THE ZERO BOYS (1986) | The Movie Waffler

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Blu-Ray Review - THE ZERO BOYS (1986)

Paintballers find themselves the targets of a real life hunt.





Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Nico Mastorakis

Starring: Daniel Hirsch, Kelli Maroney, Nicole Rio, Tom Shell, Joe Estevez, Crystal Carson



Kelli Maroney's presence will keep most viewers from nodding off; despite essaying a character with the brains of a garbage pail kid, the Night of the Comet star brings a feisty charisma to the role. The biggest name at work here is composer Hans Zimmer, whose cheesy synth score earworms its way into your brain. It's hard to believe he would be scoring Rain Man a mere two years later.



As so often happened in '80s exploitation cinema, The Most Dangerous Game meets Deliverance in Nico Mastorakis' The Zero Boys, one of a raft of '80s movies in which out of depth city folk find themselves menaced in some rural backwater by a gang of buck-toothed rednecks.


The city slickers here are three paintballing bros and their bimbo companions. After an elaborately staged paintball competition sees team leader Steve (Daniel Hirsch) 'win' the 'company' of buxom psych major (yes, really) Jamie (Kelli Maroney), the gang hops into his pickup truck and, after a ridiculously long driving sequence that resembles the uncut raw footage of a Sunkist commercial, they end up picnicking in a remote wooded area. Stumbling across an unattended cabin in these woods, the group rudely make themselves at home, even taking advantage of a bedroom for some classic '80s style rumpy pumpy (didn't they learn anything from Goldilocks?). After what feels like an age, the occupants of the cabin finally show up for a third act that sees the kids hunted by crossbow and machete wielding yokels.

Considering it's directed by Nico Mastorakis, the man responsible for notorious video nasty Island of Death, The Zero Boys is surprisingly low on sleaze and gore. The kills are mostly bloodless and boringly staged, though ironically the fake paintball 'massacre' that opens the movie is staged with far more invention than the 'real' mayhem of the final act. Shockingly for a 1986 exploitation flick, the busty bimbos here keep their tops on.


But don't expect any progressiveness here; the film is dated by its dodgy gender politics, with Maroney's Jamie all too happy to find herself traded from one boyfriend to the next. Later, in a line that will have you spitting out your Bud Lite, she refers to the movie's villains as a "bunch of faggots!" She's no little miss liberal, even if she does appear to have burnt her bra. Then there's her first boyfriend, who, despite showing him clad in a Nazi outfit in the film's opening, the movie bizarrely makes a point of later telling us he's Jewish, in a manner that suggests this is a character flaw!

It's Maroney's presence that will keep most viewers from nodding off however; despite essaying a character with the brains of a garbage pail kid, the Night of the Comet star brings a feisty charisma to the role. The same can't be said for her love interest, Daniel Hirsch, the sort of wooden '80s action lead that made Michael Dudikoff look like Brando. The biggest name at work here is composer Hans Zimmer, whose cheesy synth score earworms its way into your brain. It's hard to believe he would be scoring Rain Man a mere two years later.


The Zero Boys is the type of exploitation offering that boasts just enough material to assemble a great trailer, but is actually padded out with monotonous scenes of its protagonists exploring supposedly sinister locales. There is some fun to be had, chiefly from the characters' hilarious penchant for stating the bleeding obvious; "Looks like blood," someone remarks when confronted by a pool of sticky liquid; "That sounded like a scream," says another after hearing a sound effect that couldn't possibly be anything else; "This looks like a torture chamber," surmises another bright spark upon entering a room that's CLEARLY A TORTURE CHAMBER! Such moments are all too rare, however, and The Zero Boys fails to reach the cult heights of other mid-'80s backwoods action-thrillers like Deadly Prey or Hunter's Blood, let alone a classic of the sub-genre like Southern Comfort.
Extras:
As we expect from Arrow Video, the disc is loaded with features. Kelli Maroney provides a commentary track and is interviewed in a separate segment. There's also an interview with co-star Nicole Rio, and an amusing feature in which Mastorakis 'interviews' himself, employing much of the cheesy Dad humour that appears throughout the film. Two music videos, a stills gallery, trailer and the usual quality booklet. A comprehensive package that will satisfy the film's fans (yes, apparently they exist).

Note: this is the only trailer we could find online. It in now way reflects the image quality of Arrow's impressive blu-ray.

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