• Zero Boys, The

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: April 26th, 2016.
    Director: Nico Mastorakis
    Cast: Daniel Hirsch, Kelli Maroney, Jared Moses, Tom Shell, Nicole Rio, Crystal Carson
    Year: 1986
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Nico Mastorakis, who co-wrote with Robert Gilliam in 1986, The Zero Boys opens up with a scene, shot and scored very much like a Spaghetti Western, in which three young men – Steve (Daniel Hirsch), Larry (Tom Shell) and Rip (Jared Moses) – stalk and then shoot down a man decked out in Nazi regalia on what looks like the leftover set of an old cowboy movie. It turns out these three guys are the titular Zero Boys and as far as war games go, they’re the best. It also turns out that there was a wager for this particular match, and that the guy Steve shot down? Well, he’s agreed to let his pretty blonde lady friend, Jamie (Kelly Maroney), accompany the victor on a weekend getaway with his two pals and their girls, Sue (Nicole Rio) and Trish (Crystal Carson).

    Jamie didn’t know about this ahead of time, let alone consent to it, but she gets so pissed off at her boyfriend when she learns of this that she actually does agree to go off with the crew, just to spite him. So they all pile into a jeep and drive off into the woods together for a little fun and a lot of Miller Lite. When they come across a house, empty but completely stocked, they decide it’s a good spot to hang out and make out… until it appears that someone else is there with them after all. Before you know it peeping toms are watching couples make out, shadowy figures are brandishing large knives from the nearby woods and the boys bust out some seriously heavy artillery to deal with the problem.

    A pretty entertaining mix of action, horror and goofy eighties comedy, The Zero Boys is a film that puts entertainment value and fun way ahead of things like logic or polish. Mastorakis’s is efficient, if never all that flashy, though he manages to do a solid job of crafting some decent tension in the last half of the film thanks to some unexpected twists and some scenes that take place out in the shadowy exteriors of the house. We never really stop to think how or why the guys got ahold of a bunch of Uzi’s, this was the eighties and it seemed like Uzi’s were everywhere, nor do we stop to wonder why whatever it is that’s poking around with murder on its mind has murder on its mind in the first place. We just get a setup – six characters show up in the house, three of whom are survivalist types – and then it’s on. It isn’t particularly fancy and it not only borrows from but makes reference to popular movies of its era (including Friday the 13th and Rambo) but it works.

    The cast give it their all. Crystal Carson and Nicole Rio aren’t given as much to do as the others but they’re enjoyable enough in their roles, even if their roles aren’t all that deep. Tom Shell as Larry is fine but Tom Moses as Rip, the wise cracking pervert with a weird white patch in his hair, tends to steal most of the scenes that he’s in. Daniel Hirsch and Kelli Maroney are the true leads, each getting a fair bit more screen time than the rest, and here the story actually fleshes out their characters a bit. Jamie is there under protest, but she can’t help but fall for Steve’s charms. He’s a nice guy and if she fucks on the first date like she tells him, well, so much the better for him. There’s always been something likeable about Kelli Maroney aside from the fact that she’s pretty and it’s interesting to compare her role here as a more dominant ‘bad girl’ type to her better known role in Chopping Mall where she was a bit more innocent. And if that’s not enough, well, be on the lookout for none other than Joe Estevez once it all hits the fan for these kids.


    The Zero Boys makes its Blu-ray debut from Arrow Video in a ‘Brand new 2K restoration of the film, approved by writer-director Nico Mastorakis’ that looks excellent. The film is grainy in spots, but that’s how it’s always looked and the level of detail present here is considerably improved over the old DVD that came out through Image years ago. Colors look great, black levels are nice and solid and there’s good depth to the picture and nice texture too. There’s very little in the way of actual print damage and the disc is well authored, meaning that it’s free of any obvious compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction. Those looks like film – just as it should. Fans of the film should be quite pleased with the results of Arrow’s efforts.

    The only audio option for the feature is an English language LPCM 2.0 stereo track but it’s also of fine quality. The audio is free of any hiss or distortion and the levels are well balanced. The movie’s memorable score comes through nice and clear like and the sound effects have some decent punch behind them. Optional English subtitles are also included.

    Extras kick off with an audio commentary featuring leading lady Kelli Maroney, moderated by Chris Alexander. It takes a little bit of time to hit its stride but once it does, it turns out to be worth a listen. Maroney shares some interesting stories about the different cast members that appear alongside her in the film, a few memories of Mastorakis’ directing style, being out on location for the shoot and a fair bit more. Maroney comes across as likeable and quite charming, and this quality carries over into a separate interview that she does on the disc as well. This piece, which runs roughly eight minutes, covers some of the same ground as the commentary does but seeing her on camera is a nice touch. Between the two pieces, Maroney’s involvement in the film is well documented, from the training that she went through to land the part to her thoughts on the finished product.

    Also on hand is the twenty-seven minute featurette, Nico Mastorakis on... Nico Mastorakis which is a brand new interview that Mastorakis conducted with himself that covers the making of The Zero Boys. It’s odd to see the man literally interviewing himself about his experiences, but it’s also pretty informative as he talks about the action scenes, mixing in the horror elements, his thoughts on the cast and the effects and quite a bit more. Arrow have also thrown in a brand new interview with star Nicole Rio where she spends eight minutes on camera talking up her work in film and her experiences on The Zero Boys.

    Outside of that, we get a pretty cool original theatrical trailer for the feature, a decent sized gallery of archival stills, menus and chapter selection. The Blu-ray disc is housed inside a clear keepcase along with a DVD version of the movie featuring the same extras. Along with the two discs we get a full color insert booklet containing writing on the film from film critic James Oliver along with disc and feature credits. If that weren’t enough, Arrow has also provided some reversible cover art with some commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys on one side and an original poster art image on the reverse.

    The Final Word:

    The Zero Boys may be an unexpected title to get the special edition treatment from Arrow, but if you haven’t’ seen it before and have an affinity for eighties horror and action, give it a shot. It’s an entertaining genre mish-mash with some pretty solid moments of grisly horror, a fun cast and a couple of good twists. The Blu-ray release presents this one is all its grainy glory looking just fine and loaded with some solid supplements.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      I was really digging THE ZERO BOYS. It starts off as an interesting late cycle slasher with a decent cast of characters. The heavily armed survivalists made for a nice change of pace from the common group of teens in the woods. Having scream queen Kelli Maroney helped anchor the cast. The scenes with the torture barn were particularly effective and gave the tone of the film a nice jolt. Unfortunately it suffered from the same problem that THE FOREST, a film I watched last week, had. And that's dopey villains. Zero Boys could have used a monster or a larger and more menacing killer than Joe Estevez. Waiting more than an hour for the first kill didn't help the film either. I'm not likely to revisit this film due to those missteps. That's a shame because it started off with a good deal of promise. The film could have used some T&A as well. There are three scenes where it seemed like a good place for it. Interesting that ZERO BOYS mentions Jason on more than one occasion. I got Friday the 13th Part 3 déjà vu more than a few times.
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jason C View Post
      I got Friday the 13th Part 3 déjà vu more than a few times.
      It was shot in the same locations as FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART III, Jason (the house, the jetty, etc)