Blu-ray Movie Review – The Zero Boys (1986)

The Zero Boys
Directed by Nico Mastorakis
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1986
Blu-ray Release Date: April 26, 2016

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THE ZERO BOYS is one of those movies I think I used to see in video stores in my younger years, but never bothered to pick up. I say I “think” I saw it because I can’t be certain, yet the title tugs at my memory for some reason. I really wish I had thought to give it a look, though…this film is A LOT of fun and definitely deserves a spot in every 80s flick-fan’s library!

If you are not familiar with THE ZERO BOYS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video and MVD Distribution:

DAWN OF A NEW BREED OF HEROES
For a group of young friends, a weekend of survival games in the wilderness turns into a genuine battle of life and death when one of their number turns up dead. Finding themselves hunted by a bloodthirsty band of maniacs intent on slaughtering them one-by-one, the self-styled Zero Boys must now play their war games for real.

Starring Kelli Maroney (Night of the Comet, Chopping Mall) and featuring an early score from the legendary Hans Zimmer (Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy), The Zero Boys mixes action, survival and all-out slasher movie elements in a thrilling horror yarn that falls somewhere between Friday the 13th and Deliverance.

I’ll start off by stating this film is not what I thought it would be. I was expecting some schlocky 80s teen-fest with cheap special effects and laughable tension. Instead, I got a pulse-pounding thriller that blends horror elements with some great-looking carnage.

THE ZERO BOYS is shot well and looks good onscreen for the most part. The HD transfer looks tight, however I did note a couple of grainy shots, specifically in the darkened barn. I am can overlook this easily though, as I understand the difficulty involved with getting a good low-light shot.

The acting is pretty good, about typical for a teen slasher from that time period. Daniel Hirsch does a good job as Steve, while Kelli Maroney shines as Jamie. The rest of the cast does a good job as well, however I don’t think anyone gave a truly standout performance.

The special effects are nice, however we don’t get much gore. Granted, what we get is good, but I would have liked to have seen more. This is just a personal preference, and it does not detract from the film at all.

I really love the story in THE ZERO BOYS. As mentioned, it’s a hybrid film that draws from slasher films, but it also sorta sets the stage for future torture-horror flicks like SAW and HOSTEL. This aspect really drew me in, and it made the second half of the film truly entertaining.

THE ZERO BOYS is a big win for me, and I highly recommend it. Director Nico Mastorakis has given Arrow several entertaining titles, including ISLAND OF DEATH and HIRED TO KILL, and this is definitely a worthy addition to his canon. Give this one a look for sure, particularly if you are a fan of 80s thrillers. In addition to the HD picture and sound, the Blu-ray hosts a slew of extras, including:

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
• Brand new 2K restoration of the film, approved by writer-director Nico Mastorakis
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
• Original Stereo audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Audio Commentary with star Kelli Maroney, moderated by Shock Till You Drop s Chris Alexander
• Nico Mastorakis on… Nico Mastorakis – brand new interview with Mastorakis on the making of The Zero Boys
• Brand new interview with star Kelli Maroney
• Brand new interview with star Nicole Rio
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Stills Gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Fully-illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing by critic James Oliver

MSB

Movie Review – Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe (2016)

Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe
Directed by Chuan Lu
Courtesy of Well Go USA
Release Date: July 5, 2016

chron

If a film boasts giant creatures, you can bet I’ll be eager to check it out. I’ve mentioned many times before that I’m a creature-feature junkie, so if the beasts are larger than life (literally), then I’m set to be happy. The fine folks at Well Go USA released a film today titled CHRONICLES OF A GHOSTLY TRIBE, which features just such monsters. And while it’s not a perfect film, it is still entertaining and fun, a decent addition to the genre.

If you are not familiar with CHRONICLES OF A GHOSTLY TRIBE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Well Go USA:

The Mongolian Border, 1979: Massive fossils of unknown creatures are discovered in the mountains, and the research team assigned to excavate the remains includes acclaimed Professor Yang (Wang Qingxiang), Hu Bayi (Mark Chao), and Ping (Yao Chen), the professor’s beautiful daughter. When a freak explosion triggers a rockslide, only a handful of explorers survive the fall to the mountain’s floor…unearthing an ancient temple and the hideous creatures waiting within.

Now living a quiet but tormented life as a librarian, Hu studies demonology manuscripts, seeking answers for that fateful day. Little does he know Professor Yang has just been found wandering the mountains thousands of miles from where he supposedly died; a young woman with amnesia was just discovered in a recently-uncovered tomb; and a Northern Chinese mining town has just been ravaged by giant, ravenous beasts…

CHRONICLES OF A GHOSTLY TRIBE is shot very well and has a great appearance onscreen. The breathtaking landscape is captured in vivid detail by the cinematography, and the camerawork is top notch. Add in a nice dose of super CG animation, and the result is a collection of spectacular imagery.

The acting is nice as well. Although nobody gives a breakout performance, there are no wooden portrayals or cardboard characters that should have been shelved.

As mentioned, the special effects in CHRONICLES OF A GHOSTLY TRIBE are excellent. The CG imagery is crisp and well done. My sole complaint about the effects is not so much the execution as it is the concept behind the creatures that attack the mining town. Instead of terrifying, they look like nothing more than recycled werewolves from another film.

The biggest problem I find with this film is in the story itself. To be honest, it’s pretty choppy, a jumbled mashup of several different storylines. This actually wouldn’t have been so bad if the writers had chosen to follow-through on one or two of them; but instead, the film comes across as a picture that’s trying too hard. The ‘resolution’ of the story makes you scratch your head, and I’m still not sure if my assumptions are accurate.

There are also a couple of inconsistencies that stand out. For example, the legend starts off by calling the creatures that came to earth aliens…but then later they are referred to as demons. Later still, it’s back to aliens. The flip-flopping got annoying.

But I can’t deny I enjoyed CHRONICLES OF A GHOSTLY TRIBE otherwise. It’s over-the-top fun with some hair-raising moments and plenty of tension. The action is entertaining, and the visuals are excellent. Overall, I recommend the film for what it is, and I suggest giving it a shot. If you can overlook the storyline flaws, you’re in for a treat.

MSB

Movie Giveaway Time Again!!

It’s that time again! Yup, it’s time to give away another Blu-ray. This time though, I have TWO (2) copies to giveaway! That’s right! That means I’ll be picking TWO (2) winners.

Today’s giveaway is for a Blu-ray copy of Well Go USA’s upcoming release, CHRONICLES OF A GHOSTLY TRIBE.

chronicles

If you’re not familiar with CHRONICLES OF A GHOSTLY TRIBE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Well Go USA:

The Mongolian Border, 1979: Massive fossils of unknown creatures are discovered in the mountains, and the research team assigned to excavate the remains includes acclaimed Professor Yang (Wang Qingxiang), Hu Bayi (Mark Chao), and Ping (Yao Chen), the professor’s beautiful daughter. When a freak explosion triggers a rockslide, only a handful of explorers survive the fall to the mountain’s floor…unearthing an ancient temple and the hideous creatures waiting within.

Present Day: Now living a quiet but tormented life as a librarian, Hu studies demonology manuscripts, seeking answers for that fateful day. Little does he know Professor Yang has just been found wandering the mountains thousands of miles from where he supposedly died; a young woman with amnesia was just discovered in a recently-uncovered tomb; and a Northern Chinese mining town has just been ravaged by giant, ravenous beasts…

Sounds awesome, right? I bet it will be. I will be posting my review of the film next week. In the meantime, fill out the form below to enter the giveaway. Good luck!!

GIVEAWAY RULES

1. Contest is scheduled to end in ONE WEEK, on midnight CST, Friday, July 8, 2016. Winner will be chosen and posted on Saturday, July 9, 2016.

3. Contest winner will be chosen by random.org and must agree to let me post their name (no last names used…only the first initial of the last name) in a separate post stating who won the prize.

4. Due to shipping costs, contest is open to U.S. Residents only. Thank you for your understanding.

If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at msb@matthewscottbaker.com.
CHRONICLES OF A GHOSTLY TRIBE Blu-ray Giveaway

MSB

Movie Review – Bunny the Killer Thing (2016)

Bunny the Killer Thing
Directed by Joonas Makkonen
Courtesy of Artsploitation Films
Release Date: March 22, 2016

bunny-the-killer-thing

This review will discuss one of the wildest and weirdest films I’ve ever seen: BUNNY THE KILLER THING. The title alone is enough to entice curious viewers, and it certainly caught my eye. But the actual movie itself is beyond description, a mesmerizing, stomach-churning, and gut-busting foray into hilarity and horror. And I loved every minute of it. If you are easily offended, stop reading right now, and move on to something else. But if you can stand gratuitous rabbit/human nudity, then you’re in for a real show. BUNNY THE KILLER THING is a riotous venture into the absurd.

If you are not familiar with BUNNY THE KILLER THING, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Artsploitation Films:

This wildly un-PC horror-comedy follows the amorous adventures of a 6 foot tall sex-crazed rabbit who finds plenty of sexual conquests at a cabin in the woods inhabited by a group of Finns and some unsuspecting tourists. The young people, out to have a fun-filled winter weekend, instead find themselves involved in a game of life and death when the weird creature brandishing an incredibly long penis attacks anything that looks like a woman’s vagina. Created when a science project goes terribly wrong, the Bunny will stop at nothing in search of a warm place to park his appendage. A hilarious spoof of splatter and camp films, Bunny the Killer Thing is unapologetically offensive as well as hilarious weird and wonderful. Filmed mostly in English.

I don’t even know where to begin with this one…and that’s a good thing! The film is crazy beyond measure, and it’s chocked full of humor and terrifying imagery.

BUNNY THE KILLER THING is shot well and looks great onscreen. It is a Finnish film, therefore some of the language is a bit difficult to make out (they speak English most of the time), but the dialogue is crisp and understandable for the most part.

The special effects are very good. Granted, some of them are tongue-in-cheek, specifically Bunny’s facial features (which sorta shows the lower half of a human’s face), but I believe they are meant to elicit that response. There’s quite a bit of gore in the film, which looks excellent all the way around. But most ‘prominent’ is Bunny’s, er, member. It looks horrifically real, but hilarious at the same time. I cringed and laughed most of the way through the second half of the film.

The plot of BUNNY THE KILLER THING is your basic monster-experiment-gets-loose-and-terrorizes-everybody concept. But have no fear; Bunny isn’t your typical monster, therefore the mayhem he causes is not typical either. The resulting chaos is both intense and entertaining.

BUNNY THE KILLER THING is a big win for me, and I recommend it to anyone looking for zaniness with their horror. But be warned once again: if you have delicate sensibilities, I would definitely steer clear of this one. Otherwise, grab a group of friends and buckle up for a bizarre trip. The film is available now.

MSB