My second trip into Mastorakis land following Island of Death last year. I’ve thought about that movie way more than I expected to since first seeing it so of-course I’m going to give The Zero Boys a go.
This is a silly movie, but enjoyably so. It has the finger on the pulse of 80s movie cliches and sends them up while simultaneously adhering to them. The Zero Boys of the title are a bunch of twenty-something nitwits (played by thirty-somethings, naturally) who take paint balling way too seriously. After beating out their rival in the opening paint balling match – which is shot like the finale of any Stallone movie with 2% of Stallone’s budget – they jet-off to a cabin in the woods getaway, with their rival’s girlfriend in tow. Said girlfriend is played by Kelli Maroney from Night of the Comet and Chopping Mall so you know, thank god, that she is going to emerge as the one to root for.
Mastorakis pulls off the hybrid of genres by keeping it all very lighthearted. As it begins, The Zero Boys feels like a “guys on an adventure” flick in the Stand by Meor The Goonies tradition, but re-interprets them as if the pre-teenage kids in those movies have grown up to be useless young men. About halfway through the movie, it gets highjacked by a slasher plot as as they discover that the cabin they’re shacked up in actually belongs to a clan of psycho rednecks. You can pretty much guess how things develop from there.
There’s adolescent fascination with artillery and firepower in The Zero Boys that is even funnier considering it was made a year before Predator. I honestly assumed Mastorakis was cashing in on that movie by parodying it here, but it seems that this kind of “lets just fucking blow shit up in the woods” mentality must have been in the air and filmmakers everywhere were just breathing it in like napalm. The idea of facing down axe-wielding rednecks with machine guns is really funny and the fact the film doesn’t end with the rednecks running away in defeat is even funnier. Even with automatic weapons at their disposal, these numbskulls are still destined to be a body count.
I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I expected to. It’s nowhere near as savage, depraved and questionable in it’s intent as Island of Death and is instead a typical slice of 80s filmmaking. The production value is pretty good considering it’s budget, I got a kick out of all the extended camera shots, despite many of them being rather pointless. You can practically hear Mastorakis behind the lens shouting “I can’t believe we’ve got a steadicam!” Suck on that Kubrick and Carpenter. It’s all fun and games though and rarely is the film not entertaining. It works as a dumb slasher movie. It works as a dumb action movie. It just works. Give it a try.