I love Kelli Maroney in Night of the Comet and Chopping Mall. She just has the ideal personality and light to make the perfect 80’s scream queen heroine. So when someone recommended The Zero Boys to me saying it was her best film, I was pretty excited to watch it.
But man, people are awful, cruel liars. The Zero Boys is total crap.
This 1986 film pretty much packs all the schlock with not much fun to go with it. Greek director and screenwriter Nico Mastorakis isn’t exactly the name to give this film any weight either. The screenplay so cringe-y and awkward it should be fun but it mostly makes you go “The fuck?”
The Zero Boys are a paintballing team. Their latest tournament is against a group of boys whose leader Casey is dressed as a member of the SS – but he’s Jewish, apparently, so it’s ironic (I guess). The dream team beat out their opponents in the sort of post-apocalyptic Mexico. This means, of course, that the Zero Boys have won ultimate bragging rights.
And if you’re the leader, that’s Steve (Daniel Hirsch), you even get to take Casey’s girlfriend Jamie (Maroney) away on a weekend trip! She gets no say! Aaaah, the 80’s: where women were merely there to be preyed upon no matter how badass they are.
Somehow, for some reason Jamie agrees to go on the Zero Boy’s victory trip with the other two member’s girlfriends. God knows why. I guess Jamie doesn’t seem to like Casey at all, but jeeze. There are better, more grown up ways to go about these relationships, kids.
The six kids hop into Steve’s banging jeep and head out into the woods. They have nothing but beers and wilderness to keep them company. During a break, the other two girls – Sue and Trish – encourage Steve to mac on Jamie. They “get to know each other better” by having Jamie list off things about herself: she’s from Minnesota (Maroney’s homestate), a psych major (because she’s smart and hot!), and loves tennis…?
Like I said, the screenplay isn’t exactly Shakespeare. Or even at Cannon Film level, to be honest.
But the couple’s blooming love is interrupted when Jamie hears a woman screaming in the woods. The group hop back into the jeep and look for the woman. Instead of finding her, they come across an empty cabin. Since this is horror movie 101 the kids decide it would be great to stay there and “party” because these college-age kids can’t just go some place normal. Like a bar. Or their own houses. A graveyard Or literally anywhere else but this creepy-ass house.
But it is also Rip’s birthday (Rip is one of the bland Zero Boy members who is not Steve – Rip and Larry are literally the same person so I didn’t bother caring about them). The group bring out a birthday cake and sing. Of course, foreshadowing, they wish that Rip “may live forever.”
So that puts a target on his head.
While the couples pair off to have some shenanigans in strangers’ beds – Jamie and Steve spend some time getting to learn more about each other and make out (sorry Casey, you clearly are the worst and are unimportant). But while Trish is getting it on with her boy, she spots someone watching them through a hole in the ceiling.
Thankfully, the kids finally realise that hanging out in this house is pretty freaky and they decide to split. But of course the car doesn’t start. But a storm starts so at least the atmosphere has finally entered the film.
Some people find a mass grave a skeletons. Others keep spotting a man with a “knife” (it’s totally a machete). But thankfully the Z Boys are paintballers. Oh and they use REAL guns for practice! Obviously!
The boys go out and search around. I think we’re supposed to be taking them seriously but Steve is marching around in some seriously high-waisted short shorts and I can’t even look at him too long when his legs are in any scene. The boys discover a room kitted out with a video camera, a television, and a creepy-ass red chair. When the snoop about, the video turns on showing the screaming girl from before getting cut up.
Inside, the girls are daring each other to open a trunk. I’m not sure if the trunk was there the whole time or if I dozed off at some point, but there’s a drunk and – surprise – the body of the tortured girl is in there! After getting sick from seeing a totally gross body, Trish goes upstairs to clean up and is immediately taken.
The group run around looking for her, but she’s later conveniently dropped from the ceiling in a plastic bag. Somehow she’s still alive. She tells the group that whoever took her wanted her to be alive because it’s apparently “no gun” just killing her straight out.
By the miracle of movie rain, Jamie spots that the car’s lights are on. The team hops in and head off – blowing up the cabin’s truck with dynamite in the process. As you do.
Surprise, surprise, this is the bit where Rip gets picked off. That’s what you get for jinxing your friends with that “live forever” shit. Then on their drive a tree is blown up and blocks the road. For some reason Steve thinks this is a trap and they all run out of the car… but it seems to be that the killers want you out of the car and so you fell for their trap… but whatever. He’s a dreamy paintballer. What do I know?
In true Rebane-style, the group spend much of the climax running around, getting chased, falling into traps. A true snoozer of an ending. There’s a small “twist” at the end but boy it really doesn’t matter.
There’s plenty to hate about The Zero Boys, but I have to say that the performances by several of the main actors (Hirsch, Maroney and Crystal Caron who plays Trish) are actually pretty enjoyable. The girls’ interactions are pretty decent for a horror movie of this genre and time. Though, minus points for having the most irritating 80’s synth soundtrack.
Lots and lots of things go unexplained. Like, who the hell are the killers? Fine. Want to leave that a mystery? You could still explain the mass grave. Why doesn’t the phone work for Steve but works for Jamie? HOW DO YOU EVEN DO THAT?
So, long story short: don’t let anyone ever tell you that The Zero Boys is Kelli Maroney’s best film. Either they are cruel liars or they’ve lost a grip on reality.