Not So Random Film of The Weekend: The Zero Boys

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Ooh, it’s my first entry in this soon to be never-ending series. Be gentle!

The Zero Boys Arrow

While it’s certainly an entertaining popcorn and beer-worthy flick with great camerawork, direction and an appropriately 80’s blend of synth-heavy and orchestral scoring courtesy of Stanley Myers and Hans Zimmer, there’s something a wee bit “off” about Nico Mastorakis’ 1986 film The Zero Boys  that keeps it from total greatness. Don’t get me wrong, folks: It’s certainly got just about everything it needs to be a perfectly fine cheesy action flick and even adds in some mildly disturbing  moments that lend it a solid horror vibe. However, there’s very little in the way of gore here and you certainly don’t want to go in expecting a ton of exploitative nudity even though you’d think a film such as this made at this point in time would include a moderate heaping of both as par for the crowd-pleasing course.

In fact, according to an interview on the Arrow Video Blu-Ray, Mastorakis deliberately made the film this way as a sort of counterbalance to his far more brutal 1976 film Island of Death. If you take away the expletives and make a few minor edits, you pretty much have a PG-rated flick that you could easily show on a regular network or basic cable channel these days. Amusingly enough, by comparison, an average episode of Gotham has a load more violence than what you’ll see here (I kind of liked the first two seasons, but the show’s gotten a bit too grim as a alternate world take on its source material, but I digress…).

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Let’s see now: Bandanna? Check. Attitude? Check. Gun? Check. I think that’s everything, but you know how these things go (until they don’t go the way you think).

That’s not to say the film is totally tame, mind you. It moves from high action and a slightly comedic tone at the start into those more moody and serious scare scenes with relative ease and works well enough on that level. In general, Mastorakis’ films tend to go in all sorts of directions as they blend drama, comedy, action, sexy stuff and lots of suspension of disbelief common to genre films. Of course, if you pay too close attention to the writing, some parts don’t click as well as they should because the story needs to move along, damn the continuity consequences or assorted logic fails. In other words, this is one of those films where any sort of overthinking makes it a lot less fun.

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Kvetch-22: You Win Some, You Lose Some

Good GOG PlusHere’s some news fresh from the “Wouldn’t You Know It?” desk:

Hooray! I won something awesome recently – a blu-ray copy of the Ivan Tors produced, Herbert L. Strock directed sci-fi film GOG (1954), restored into its 3D state and in HD for the first time on disc. Many thanks go to Kino Lorber, Classic Movie Hub and Aurora’s Gin Joint (all fine places to sit for a spell and learn about plenty of classic films) for picking my hastily scribbled entry. I also got two more Arrow Video blu-rays in the post today to review right after GOG showed up via Fed Ex: Dillinger and The Zero Boys. Excellent!

However (and this is hi-larious)… Continue reading

Arrow Video’s April Showers of Awesome Flicks

If you’re an Arrow Video collector here in the U.S., things are about to get even more interesting in your library thanks to the company’s SIX April releases through MVD Entertainment Group.

death walks twice boxsetThe month of solid releases kicks off April 5th with Death Walks Twice: Two Films By Luciano Ercoli – Limited Edition Boxset (MSRP $69.95), a Blu-Ray/DVD combo featuring two films, Death Walks on High Heels (1971) and Death Walks at Midnight (1972). Both films star the lovely Nieves Navarro (billed as Susan Scott) and are two seminal giallo classics worth snapping up.

Only 3000 of this set will be made and as usual, Arrow is packing that LE box with both films and special features galore:

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

  • Limited Edition boxed-set (3000 copies) containing Death Walks on High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight
  • Brand new 2K restorations of the films from original film elements
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio
  • Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
    Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
  • Limited Edition 60-page booklet containing new writing on the films from authors Danny Shipka (Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France), Troy Howarth (So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films) and writer Leonard Jacobs

DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS

  • Audio commentary by film critic Tim Lucas
  • Introduction to the film by screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
  • From Spain with Love – featurette comprising newly-edited archive footage of director Luciano Ercoli and actress Nieves Navarro, interviewed at their home in Barcelona
  • Master of Giallo – screenwriter Gastaldi on Death Walks on High Heels and how to write a successful giallo
  • Death Walks to the Beat – a career-spanning interview with High Heels composer Stelvio Cipriani
  • Original Italian and English trailers
    Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT

  • Audio commentary by film critic Tim Lucas
  • Introduction to the film by screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
  • Extended TV version of the feature
  • Crime Does Pay – screenwriter Gastaldi reflects on his career in the crime film-writing business, including a look at Death Walks at Midnight
  • Desperately Seeking Susan – visual essay by Michael Mackenzie exploring the distinctive giallo collaborations between director Luciano Ercoli and star Nieves Navarro
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

And that’s only the first of six great genre films and film sets coming next month… Continue reading