The Zero Boys Blu-ray Review

Director Nico Mastorakis and Star Kelli Maroney lead this thrilling B-movie

Cult director Nico Mastorakis, the man behind such films as the controversial Island of Death, gives us the entertaining b-movie The Zero Boys. Released direct to video in 1986, it stars Kelli Maroney (Night of the Comet, Chopping Mall) and features early work from noted composer Hans Zimmer. The Zero Boys mixes action, survivalist, and slasher elements in a satisfying combination. A few small changes could have turned it into a b-movie classic but as-is The Zero Boys is a fun trip back to the Eighties.

Steve (Daniel Hirsch) and his college buddies deeply enjoy playing war games in their spare time. Think of their war games as more realistic paintball competitions taken up a notch. They call themselves the ‘Zero Boys’ and take it seriously. After winning a big tournament against one of their friends, the Zero Boys take their girlfriends on a weekend trip. Along for the ride comes the pretty Jamie (80’s fan-favorite Kelli Maroney), supposedly “won” as a prize from the friend they beat at paintball.

The group of friends come across an empty, isolated cabin in the woods on their leisure trip. With a storm brewing, the Zero Boys decide to check it out for shelter and possibly spend the night. Thinking the cabin is empty, it will soon become a fight for survival when the owners decide to make their presence known.

Nico Mastorakis also avoids pushing his b-movie too far into exploitation territory, which may disappoint some.

What makes The Zero Boys stand out from more forgettable b-movie fodder is its conscious avoidance of the usual slasher conventions. Director Nico Mastorakis serves up much stronger protagonists than usual. Steve and his friends are willing to fight back and take their adversaries head-on. If anything, the antagonists chasing them are less than memorable. That is the one flaw in The Zero Boys as a concept, fleshing out the villains would have made it a more exciting movie. The action is surprisingly tight and well-done for a low-budget thriller from the Eighties.

Steve and Jamie receive most of the character development. It would have been nice if the script had fleshed out their friends in more depth. The supporting characters occasionally feel like afterthoughts, especially in an opening act that takes a long time to see some action after a whiz-bang paintball battle opens it. Nico Mastorakis also avoids pushing his b-movie too far into exploitation territory, which may disappoint some. The deaths aren’t overly explicit or gory as Steve and his friends struggle to survive. There isn’t much skin beyond a few skimpy tops seen on the actresses.

The Zero Boys is a fun, disposable b-movie from the Eighties with a mildly new spin on an old idea. Stick some people together at a remote cabin and terrorize them with an unseen enemy. Only this time they are prepared to fight back and pose a much bigger challenge than normal.

Zero Boys Blu-ray screen shot 7

Video

Arrow Video offers up The Zero Boys from a new 2K film transfer struck from a 35mm interpositive, approved by Nico Mastorakis. I’m not entirely sure a 2K scan was necessary for this particular film stock but this is a solid Hi-Def presentation with pleasing clarity and excellent texture reproduction. The 88-minute main feature is encoded in a high AVC video encode, flawlessly replicating the new color-graded master at 1080P resolution. It is shown at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

Some minor ringing is possibly left over from the careful video processing. Grain reproduction is excellent, retaining a fairly high amount of fine detail. The film-like presentation offers strong clarity before the setting shifts to night, where inherent exposure limitations affect shadow density and delineation.

Black levels are crisp with a hint of crushing. Color saturation seems overly bright, leading to slightly washed-out colors in exteriors. This is a solid, well-done film transfer from perfectly fine elements with only a hint of wear.

Audio

One of the stronger technical features of The Zero Boys is a rich and clean 2.0 PCM soundtrack. The stereo mix is impressive for the low-budget movie, delivering a wide soundstage with tight bass. This is audio that could have been made yesterday, the fidelity is extremely clean with masterful sound design.

Optional English SDH subtitles appear in a white font.

Extras

Arrow Video comes up with a humorous “interview” where Nico Mastorakis interviews himself. The commentary by Kelli Maroney is brutally honest as she talks about her experiences with bad hair. This isn’t the most loaded set of special features we’ve seen from Arrow but it does include a DVD as well.

  • Audio Commentary with star Kelli Maroney, moderated by Fangoria’s Chris Alexander
  • Nico Mastorakis on… Nico Mastorakis (27:48 in HD) – A new interview with Mastorakis on the making of The Zero Boys.
  • Zero Girl (08:20 in HD) – A new interview with star Kelli Maroney. She still looks great for those wondering how the 80’s starlet has aged.
  • Blame It On Rio (08:30 in HD) – A new interview with star Nicole Rio.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (03:09 in SD)
  • Stills Gallery
  • Music Videos: Main Theme (02:09), The Spelling of S.U.S.P.E.N.S.E. (1:09)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
  • Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by critic James Oliver

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.