The Zero Boys

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B-movie auteur Nico Mastorakis brings his signature brand of gross-out zaniness to The Zero Boys (1986) with complete relish. It’s a film that is far more concerned with delivering graphically violent spectacles and terror than with elevating the material with any characterization or dramatic stakes. The Zero Boys is a veritable patchwork of genre film motifs and cliches that have been realigned to ensure that the viewer experiences the upmost delight.

The fundamental premise of The Zero Boys is not without promise. We’re introduced to three college bros who spend their weekends playing war games. These are the kind of guys that saw Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and were never the same. After one of their playful skirmishes the “Zero Boys” head up into a remote part of a mountain range to practice with real guns. It is here that they encounter the deadly devotees of Deliverance (1972) and Friday The 13th (1980). The fight to survive becomes all too real as Rambo fans square off against amateur torture-pornographers.

As a satirical look at how film media effects popular culture The Zero Boys works. Mastorakis has a true knack for tonal shifts in his depictions of violence from the outright disturbing to the uncomfortably hilarious. The problem with The Zero Boys is that these gun toting morons are total jerks. Why should anyone care if any of these bros makes it home alive? Luckily their female counterparts, Kelli Maroney in particular, are sassy, tough, and emotionally complex enough for the viewer to attach themselves to them.

Clocking in at just shy of ninety minutes The Zero Boys doesn’t get to overstay its welcome. The b-movie mayhem ends just as the viewer is likely to be pondering “why is any of this actually happening?”. The Zero Boys isn’t Mastorakis’ best or even most enjoyable film but it does scratch a specific itch for fans of horror and/or action films.