Director: Nico Mastorakis
Script: Nico Mastorakis & Fred C. Perry
Cast: Daniel Hirsch, Kelli Maroney, Tom Shell, Nicole Rio, Jared Moses, Crystal Carson, Joe Phelan
Running time: 89 minutes
Starting off with a weird gunfight in what looks like a cross between an old Wild West town and something rather more post-apocalyptic, we soon learn that the victors of the fight are actually a group of college jocks who call themselves ‘The Zero Boys’, and the fight itself was a peculiar form of paint ball – using paint that looks more like blood! Once they’ve humiliated the losers they all scramble into a big jeep and head off into the hills for a weekend away with their girlfriends, or, in the case of the Zero Boy’s leader, Steve (Hirsch), he ends up with the opposition leader’s girlfriend, as she was part of the bet they’d had at the beginning of the tournament.
At first ‘spoil of war’ Jaimie (Kelli Maroney) isn’t too impressed with this deal, but she gradually learns to rather like our main man, Steve, even though he turns out to be not only square-jawed, but also a bit ‘square’ in other ways too!
As the group are driving through the woods Jaimie thinks she sees a frightened girl running through the forest, but they can’t find her. However, when they end up ‘making camp’ in an old hunter’s cabin they soon discover that what Jaimie saw was probably the prelude to a vicious murder.
Various freaky things happen once their initial relief of finding shelter from a storm washes away, and the lads realise that something particularly nasty is happening in the locale when they find what appears to be the paraphernalia for a snuff movie set in the barn. Things can only get more wild and screwed up from hereon in…
Back in the eighties all manner of bizarre films were being made and distributed during the home video boom and Greek director Nico Mastorakis was behind more than a few of them. The Zero Boys is one of his more accessible titles, in that it’s got a linear, relatively ‘normal’ storyline, and features a bunch of actors who bounce off each other quite well. In fact, one of the film’s main strengths is that the characters are pretty agreeable for this kind of film, and the actors playing them are also decent, and seem to have a bit of chemistry with one another.
Once the central premise has asserted itself the film delivers the goods in the form of action and horror, with a few sprinkles of young flesh thrown in for good measure, which is just what an audience for this kind of drive-in movie are after. What’s also interesting is that the females in the group are quite strong characters too, and often get the best lines, although they don’t get quite as much action stuff to do as the lads.
Mastorakis’s direction is pretty good, and he manages to imbue the story with a sense of urgency when it needs it, and also a sense of peril for the ‘hero group’ as they battle crazy red-neck types, the hostile terrain they find themselves traversing, and, in one instance, a real venomous snake!
Sadly, the film’s fashions somewhat date the film with some dodgy clothes being worn and some even dodgier 80s perms on display. However, the naturalistic dialogue between the group helps to prevent the ‘look’ sabotaging the film, and the electronic music by a young Hans Zimmer really adds to the overall mood of the piece.
Arrow have done a good job with the film, with the quality of the picture and sound being good, although I did notice a few scratches here and there, and a bit of grain, but that’s to be expected in a film that’s now 30 years old. My, that statement alone has made me feel old!
Overall The Zero Boys delivers fun for lovers of the horror genre, but also for action fans too, since there’s a fair bit of shooting, explosions and hand-to-hand combat in display.
Arrow Video are distributing The Zero Boys on DVD and Blu-ray. As per usual with Arrow Video there are some decent extras on the disc including:
Audio commentaries by Chris Alexander (Fangoria/ Delirium) and Kelly Maloney. These two make quite a good double act as they sit watching the film on a laptop in a hotel room somewhere, although Chris sounds like he hasn’t seen the film before! However, Kelly seems to remember lots of interesting things about the shoot so makes it all worthwhile.
Nico Mastorakis in conversation with himself! (28 mins) – Nico interviews himself in his Athens office about The Zero Boys project and about his career in general. Nico is good company, and can talk for Greece, so manages to cram in lots of interesting facts and stories into the interview, plus a few jokes at his own expense. He acknowledges that he lucked out with his cast and crew, particularly managing to recruit later big names such as Frank Darabont and Hans Zimmer.
Zero girl (8.5 mins) – an interview with Kelly Maroney, who played Jaimie in the film. Apparently, she took the job because it sounded like fun and was a bit different from most of the jobs she was being offered at the time. She mostly remembers spending much of the time being wet, replete with a bad perm!
Blame it on Rio (8.5 mins) – an interview with Nicole Rio who played Sue in the film. She thinks she got the audition because she drew all over her envelope which Nico liked, and she remembers being genuinely scared of the snake since it was still venomous and had its lips temporarily sewn up.
Music videos – ‘Main theme’ by Hans Zimmer (2 mins), which is basically a montage of the film to music, and also ‘The Spelling of SUSPENSE’ (1 min), which features another musical cue from Mr Zimmer.
Stills Gallery (1.24) - 29 stills from the film, including behind the scenes stuff.
Theatrical trailer (3 mins) – Cool, but possibly too long.