The Curator of Schlock #362

The Zero Boys

From zeroes to heroes in no time flat. 

Edwige and I have been exploring this abandoned mall somewhere on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. There was once a Spencer’s Gifts in this mall. Do any of you remember Spencer’s Gifts? I bought my first whoopee cushion at Spencer’s Gifts back in my salad days. I doubt anyone still makes whoopee cushions. There’s probably an app for that now. I am miserable and out of touch.

Tonight’s Arrow Home Video release is 1986’s The Zero Boys from director Nico Mastorakis. The movie begins with what seems like a Red Dawn type scenario. You have a deserted ghost town that’s under siege by some nasty soldiers being led by a guy in full Nazi regalia. The only ones standing in their way are the Zero Boys, a ragtag group of elite soldiers who draw inspiration from Sly Stallone’s Rambo. They are Steve (Daniel Hirsch), Larry (Tom Shell), and Rip (Jared Moses). Steve is the no nonsense leader, while Larry and Rip are a couple of chuckleheads. They shoot down all the bad guys, but then it becomes clear that the red blotches are paint not blood. This a paintball course!

The guy in the Nazi uniform is a tool named Casey and he and Steve had a little bet going on. Basically, if Steve won the tournament, he gets Casey’s girlfriend, Jamie (Kellie Maroney) as a date for the weekend. Jamie screams in protest and Steve lets her out of the bet, but she decides to go along with Steve since she’s furious with Casey. Steve, Jamie, Larry, and Rip head out to the woods along with Larry and Rip’s girlfriends, Trish and Sue. Trish is Larry’s girlfriend and Sue is Rip’s girlfriend in case you want to keep track.

While having a picnic lunch, the six of them overhear a woman screaming. They climb into Steve’s jeep and drive off to investigate, but all they come across is an abandoned house in the woods. They go inside to find the place empty, a note attached to the refrigerator from the owner saying he won’t be back that weekend and to have a good time. There’s beer in the fridge! Larry and Rip decide to party down, but Steve doesn’t like this situation one bit. Maybe that’s because deep down Steve realizes he’s in a slasher movie!

Yes, there’s a killer on the property brandishing a large nasty knife. That’s what Jamie sees in the pouring rain, but no one takes it too seriously. However, when they all hear the screaming woman again, Steve and Larry go to investigate the barn on the property. They discover a VCR hooked up to a television. When they press play, they discover a snuff video of a woman being tortured to death, the same woman they heard screaming. Back at the cabin, the girlfriends discover the woman’s dead body stuffed in a chest.

It’s normally around this point in the movie that we expect the killer to start picking the young people off one by one. But these are the Zero Boys, a group of young men with a collection of modified semi-automatics and itchy trigger fingers. That’s what makes The Zero Boys unique. This is the first slasher movie I’ve seen where the odds between the killer and his young victims are even, a true gift in the kingdom of schlock.

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, and 477) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.