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Review: Zero Boys, The (1986)

Writer: Thomas Ellison


The Disciples of Rambo face off against the Brotherhood of Jason in this hybrid slasher from the mid 1980s. The film opens with a fierce paintball battle between the Zero Boys and a gang comprised of hunchbacks, snake handlers, cowboys, and nazis. After vanquishing their foes and claiming Kelli Maroney as a prize, the Zero Boys head for the hills for some R&R. Their dream weekend becomes a nightmare when they are targeted by backwoods stalkers.

The Zero Boys is two films in one. The first part is over the top action and dialogue almost to the point of parody. Rambo even makes a cameo appearance. Horror elements slowly creep into the story and transform the film into an effective slasher. Lines of dialogue full of bravado suddenly ring hollow when the stalking begins. You know you're in slasherland when characters start looking for Jason Voorhees in dark corners.

The acting highlights are Kelli Maroney and Joe Estevez, going under the name Joe Phelan. Maroney's character is more intelligent and stronger than her characters in Night of the Comet and Chopping Mall. She's quick with a punch and a verbal jab. Estevez, as Killer #1, gets to wield a machete and shoot victims with a spear gun. Daniel Hirsch's performance as the leader of the Zero Boys is so wooden one expects birds to nest in his hair. Jared Moss is the mandatory horny jokester. It's hard to watch Moss because he has a large white patch of hair on the side of his head that makes him look like a skunk. Makes a nice target, though.

Director Nico Mastorakis and co-writer Fred Perry create a nice, atmospheric slasher in the second half of The Zero Boys. It's a complete surprise because nothing in the first half of the film warns the viewer of the dangers ahead for the weekend warriors. Mastorakis uses creative lighting to make the killers appear more sinister. There is little blood and gore but the scenes of torture still generate a few skin crawling moments. Only a few characters are well developed which leaves the viewer with unanswered questions. We never learn the killers' identities or background. One girl spends the whole movie with her foot in a cast but what caused her injury is never revealed.

Slasher fans may have to search other sections of their local video stores to find a copy of The Zero Boys. The cover makes the film look like a war movie, but don't be fooled. Plenty of surprises await for those who make it past the opening war games. Spooky farmhouses, barns with torture chambers, shallow graves with skeletal victims, and Kelli Maroney in a skimpy top are just a few of the visual highlights that will greet slasher fans lucky enough to find a copy.



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