It’s time to turn back the clock once again with a brand new retro review from Icon Vs. Icon’s Dylan Lyles! This time he turns his attention Nico Mastorakis’ cult classic, ‘The Zero Boys,’ which recently hit blu-ray from the good folks at Arrow US! A quick synopsis of the film before we dive in:
‘The Zero Boys’ Synopsis: From cult director Nico Mastorakis, the man behind such eclectic offerings as the controversial ‘Island of Death’ and the Oliver Reed starring actioner ‘Hired to Kill,’ comes ‘The Zero Boys’ – the genre-bending ‘80s classic with gruesome sequences that anticipate the torture porn horrors of ‘Hostel’ and ‘Saw.’ For a group of young friends, a weekend of survival games in the wilderness turns into a genuine battle of life and death when one of their number turns up dead. Finding themselves hunted by a bloodthirsty band of maniacs intent on slaughtering them one-by-one, the self-styled “Zero Boys” must now play their war games for real. Starring Kelli Maroney (‘Night of the Comet,’ ‘Chopping Mall’) and featuring an early score from the legendary Hans Zimmer (‘Inception,’ ‘The Dark Knight Trilogy’), ‘The Zero Boys’ mixes action, survival, and all-out slasher movie elements in a thrilling horror yarn that falls somewhere between ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘Deliverance.’
REVIEW: Movies that switch up genres halfway through and keep the viewer invested will always hold a place in my heart. The movie that comes to mind when I mention this is Robert Rodriguez’s 1996 classic, ‘From Dusk Till Dawn.’ To avoid spoilers, how has anyone not seen this flick, I will just mention that “Dusk” begins on one note, and ends in almost a completely different world altogether. I only bring this up because that movie stuck out in my mind during my viewing of the Zero Boys.
This 1986 Mastorakis “classic” opens on what appears to be a ghost town. Two warring factions are having a dangerously intense gunfight throughout the town. After ten minutes or so of “fantastic 80s action”, it is revealed that this is the final match in a weekend tournament of war games style paintball. After pausing the movie and double checking, I saw no sign of the Road Warriors or the NWO……….sorry, ‘WarGames’ humor. Knowing very little about the film beforehand I was strapped in and ready for an epic 80s action comedy! Was I in for a treat or what? The cocky, yet charming, Zero Boys decide to celebrate their well fought victory by heading to the mountains. Things don’t exactly go as planned so they eventually end up at a cabin that looks eerily familiar. They are joined by three gorgeous females, one of which being the leader of the opposing teams girlfriend. Members of our “fearless” friends begin disappearing one by one in a cat and mouse game that is one part slasher, one part “torture porn”, and all parts fun!
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie from beginning to end. I went into this release blind so my only experience with ‘The Zero Boys’ comes from this fantastic Arrow release itself. The Zero Boys themselves, played by Daniel Hirsch, Tom Shell, and Jared Moses, are just three cocky asshole “kids” without a care in the world. The acting itself is perfect 80s camp that fits in perfect with the time. You can honestly tell how much fun these guys had acting off of one another. The star of our cast, and the honest stand out, would have to be Kelli Maroney of ‘Night of The Comet.’ She plays the seductive, yet strong willed Jamie. Her character will definitely have the male viewer’s attention.
Acting aside, the dialogue here is spot on. There are constant clever references to Jason throughout the movie. These would just be forgettable self-aware slasher flick comments if it wasn’t for the fact that the cabin used is the same cabin from ‘Friday the 13th Part 3.’ Its fun facts and subtle hints that makes ‘The Zero Boys’ that much more enjoyable. Also, if the dialogue doesn’t bring you in, then the fantastic score by Hans Zimmer will. Yes, that Hans Zimmer! If you’ve never seen this movie I highly suggest picking up this release.
This Arrow release, as always, is jam packed with excellent stuff. First we have the signature Arrow booklet which includes a great write up by critic, James Oliver. The packaging itself is a great piece of art in itself. Getting into the disc itself, the brand new 2K transfer is fantastic. Not being a “transfer nazi” myself, it blows my mind to see these older movies look better and better with every release. As with every Arrow release, the disc is jam packed with bonus material, my favorite being director, Nico Mastorakis’s interview with himself. The bit never gets old for the duration of the 30 minutes or so interview. Also included are new interviews with stars Kelli Maroney and Nicole Rio. There’s also a commentary with Maroney and “Shock Till You Drop”’s Chris Alexander.
I can’t stress enough how much fun this movie is. ‘The Zero Boys’ is an 80s classic that I’m sad got overlooked throughout the years. If you’re a fan of 80s action, horror, and/or comedy then this release is definitely worth picking up. — Dylan Lyles
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is an obsessive fan of cinema, pro wrestling, horror, vinyl, and comic books. Bursting from the womb in 1992, Dylan’s surrounded himself with all things geek culture. Earliest memories include Wrestlemania 11, ‘The Death of Superman,’ and Jason Voorhees emerging from the waters of Camp Crystal Lake. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the crowds at pop culture events up and down the east coast. You love him and he loves you!