Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 29th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1986
Director: Nico Mastorakis
Writers: Nico Mastorakis, Robert Gilliam, Fred Perry
Cast: Daniel Hirsch, Kelli Maroney, Nicole Rio, Tom Shell, Jared Moses, Crystal Carson, Joe Estevez
BluRay released: April 25th, 2016 (UK) / April 26th, 2016 (USA)
Approximate running time: 89 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region Free / Region Free NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £17.99 (UK)
Synopsis: After competing in a paint ball themed survival game. A group of friends’ head out to a remote cabin in the woods for a relaxing getaway. Shortly after their arrival things quickly turn deadly, when they find themselves in a real life game of survival.
The Zero Boys was co-written and directed by Nico Mastorakis whose other notable films include, Island of Death and Hired to Kill. Key collaborators on The Zero Boys include, cinematographer Steven Shaw (Foxtrot) and composers Stanley Myers (Schizo, The Incubus) and Hans Zimmer (True Romance, Broken Arrow).
Content wise, this film can be best summed up as a backwoods survival film meets the Slasher genre. The narrative is well constructed and pacing is never an issues as things move along briskly. Also this film does a very good job letting it’s gotcha moments of terror to set in before moving on to its next surprise. And if there was an area that leaves room for improvement, then that area would be the caricature characters which populate the film.
From a production stand point this film far exceeds its limited resources. Visually this film does not disappoint and nowhere is more evident then, the stalk and kill sequences and other action oriented moments. These moments are all well executed and exploited for maximum effect.
Performance wise this one of the more flawed areas of this film. With the female cast members delivering stronger performances then their male counter parts. And this film’s standout performance is Kelli Maroney (Night of the Comet, Chopping Mall) in the role of Jessica, a tough female character who can hold her own with any of the male characters. Other performances of note include, Nicole Rio (Sorority House Massacre) in the role of Sue and Joe Estevez under the alias Joe Phelan, in the role of the killer. Ultimately despite its familiarity The Zero Boys is a surprisingly effective thriller that delivers the goods and then some.
The Zero Boys comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this release is a brand new 4k restoration from 35mm interpositive elements and the end result is easily the best this film has ever looked on home video. The image looks crisp, colors and flesh tones look accurate and black levels fare well. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression and grain looks natural.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM stereo mix English. The source used for this audio mix is in great shape. Dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too, especially the film’s score. Also included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include, a stills gallery, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 9 seconds), two music videos – Main Theme (2 minutes 9 seconds) and The Spelling of S.U.S.P.E.N.C.E. (69 seconds), three interviews – the first interview with director Nico Mastorakis titled Nico Mastorakis on… Nico Mastorakis – The Zero Boys (27 minutes 48 seconds), the second interview with actress Kelli Maroney titled Zero Girl (8 minutes 20 seconds) and the third interview with actress Nicole Rio titled Blame it on Rio (8 minutes 30 seconds) and an insightful audio commentary track with Kelli Maroney who discusses cast & crew, locations, working with Nico Mastorakis and other production related topics.
Topics discussed in the interview with Nico Mastorakis include, casting and how they mostly hired unknown actors, how the film was shot in three weeks, the cast and his thoughts about them, information about the crew and how many of them went unto very successful careers, The Zero Boys influence on horror / slasher films that preceded it, how the bulk of violence in The Zero Boys is kept off-screen and what are the things that he would change about the film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Kelli Maroney include, why she decided to make this film, working with Nico Mastorakis, how much fun she had portraying strong heroine’s characters in 1980’s, cast & crew and comments about them, difficulties that they faced while making this film and how this film over the years has gained cult following.
Topics discussed in the interview with Nicole Rio include, how she grew up in a show business family, working with Nico Mastorakis, what she likes about the film and what sets it apart from other horror films and what she has been up to since The Zero Boys.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and a twenty-four-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay about the film titled Video Games: Breaking the Rules with the Zero Boys written by written by James Oliver and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall The Zero Boys gets a solid release from Arrow Video USA.