Thursday, April 26, 2012

10 Slashers That Could Benefit from a Remake: THE ZERO BOYS (1986)

Now that we're well into 2012, something has occurred to me: it's the first year in a decade that has no slasher remakes scheduled for release. While the remakes have swooned the box office with usual great success, very few horror film movements have drawn up as much protest as the dreaded remake craze did.

It's pretty obvious, looking back, as to how studios and producers chose which slashers were deemed worth remaking - they were the slashers that were original moneymakers upon their original release. HALLOWEENTHE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACREFRIDAY THE 13THPROM NIGHTTHE HILLS HAVE EYES, and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET were all monster successes and pop-culture phenomenon's. Even more cult-y slashers like BLACK CHRISTMAS and MY BLOODY VALENTINE had earned a solid enough reputation to guarantee a solid fanbase.

But when you really think about it, doesn't the thought of remaking more well-known slasher films seem to sort of juxtapose what a remake stands for? Shouldn't they be remaking films that are less-known and more dated, to bring them to a modern-day audience? While 2012 might not have any remakes on its schedule, I can guarantee you that a second wave of remakes will eventually come along. But when it does, it should be focusing its efforts on the movies that actually could benefit from a redo. As we take a break from remakes in theaters, here's the ten suggestions for films to consider a redux for, and ways to take the original movie and make it fresh and modern without spitting in the face of the original's fans (here's looking at you, Rob Zombie!).


After winning a paint-balling tournament, three buddies take their respective girlfriends on a trek into the wilderness for some R&R. Upon their arrival, strange things start happening, and soon they find themselves at the center of a psychopath's twisted entertainment. But once the girls fall into danger, the men must use their skills to defeat the villains and get their ladies to safety!

1986's The Zero Boys is a movie with identity issues, trying to be a backwoods slasher, a parody, a buddy film, and an action flick all in one. While The Zero Boys certainly infuses elements from all of these genres, it never really commits to any of them, making the film less interesting than what it deserves to be. What starts as a fun idea about city boys showing their manhood by saving their girlfriends from crazed backwoodsmen, became a movie that never followed through on its promises. Because of that, The Zero Boys suffers and has become excruciatingly dated. With a great idea but a movie that has failed the test of time, The Zero Boys is the perfect film to get targeted for a remake.

The Concept

The Zero Boys is a movie that misses its mark - as mentioned, it never really commits to anything, including its theme. What is the story of The Zero Boys really about? These dudes are already paint-ball experts, so they don't need to prove anything to their girlfriends. They are already the closest of friends, so they don't need to prove anything to each other. Ultimately, what is being tested in our three protagonists when they are attacked?

Three summers ago, there was another movie about three men being tested that was released and became a worldwide phenomenon: THE HANGOVER. What drove The Hangover to a greatness that The Zero Boys needs to achieve was that the protagonists were put in a situation that they were not ready for. So in The Zero Boys remake, the three "Zero Boys" need to be in a situation that they, too, are not prepared for.

One of the best horror films recently released was TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL. That movie certainly had gruesome death scenes and laugh-out-loud moments, but it also had heart. That is what The Zero Boys needs - heart. We need our characters to learn something while they try to rescue their girlfriends from the villainous backwoodsmen. The best course of action would be to have them learn a life lesson and discover something about themselves, while also making a statement on society. Tucker & Dale taught us that miscommunication leads to most problems. What can The Zero Boys teach us?

The answer lies in the friendship of the three main characters. Unlike the 1986 original, the remake cannot have these guys start out as studs and winners. They need to earn it. These are the underdogs of their paint-ball league who never win. But when it really counts, they pull through and work together. While working together to save their girlfriends from the hillbilly clan that kidnapped them, these guys need to work out their differences among each other - problems in the trio's relationship that have gone unspoken for too long. But in life or death, everything comes out.

Still, The Zero Boys is a comedy-horror hybrid. Flat out. And while our three leads must have funny mishaps occur, our villains should be equally as laughable. These villains give the film a chance to parody what the original movie attempted to parody, but couldn't figure out a way to successfully do so. The villains need to be picked out of backwoods hillbilly clichés; the toothless one, the fat one, and even the lesbian farmer lady. What these guys do is horrible and gruesome, but ultimately they are just as over-the-top as our heroes. 

The Plot

A paint-balling tournament opens the film, just like the original film, only this time our protagonists are not the victors. They lose when chubby, bumbling fool Zach can't figure out how to turn off the gun's safety mechanism, and the nerdy pacifist Ed freezes and gets shot. The team's handsome leader, Brad, contemplates taking up the rival team's offer to ditch Zach and Ed and join their team.

Brad has just started dating a girl named Rose - she's extremely hot, but also quite shallow. She doesn't approve of his friends, but he swears they're okay. In a last-ditch effort to prove they're cool guys, Brad takes Rose on a camping weekend in the woods with Zach, Ed, and Ed's fiancé Maya. From the start, minor mishaps occur, and Rose immediately wants to go home.

To give Rose some space, Brad takes Ed and Zach out fishing, leaving Maya to watch over Rose at the cabin. Rose and Maya go on a hike, and come across what looks like a campsite. When they discover the mutilated bodies of several men, the girls scream and run for help, but are ambushed and kidnapped by three hillbilly freaks; the skinny Byter, the obese Gutso, and the lesbian Ida.

It isn't long before Brad, Ed, and Zach realize that something isn't right, and they go looking for the girls. Eventually, the men are attacked by the hillbillies, but manage to survive. They are stranded in the woods, and need to find a way to save their girlfriends. It's time for these "zero boys" (nicknamed after their number of paint-ball wins) to man up and work together.

A lot of humor and action takes place, with explosions and gunfights. A starving hillbilly girl named Merry Kat - who is shunned by her evil family of hillbillies for being too gentle - assists the boys and explains her family's plot: the leader of the hillbillies is the father, Vachel, who has his kids kidnap beautiful young women and kill any men. They take the women back to their house in the woods, where they impregnate them and force them to live until the baby is born. Then they kill them in a very "THE HILLS HAVE EYES II-style."

Each of the boys get to take on one of the three hillbillies in a test of wits, where they ultimately overcome whatever problem is holding them back. Zach battles Ida, and is resourceful enough to kill her. Ed takes on Byter, facing the danger head on and not freezing to fire his gun, killing him. Brad takes on Gutso, and at first gets his ass handed to him but is able to muster up the courage and self-confidence to kill Gutso. The Zero Boys then find Maya and Rose, and escape from Vachel with an explosive finale.

Months later, Brad has chosen to stay with the Zero Boys, and they have become a winning paint-balling team. Their traumatic experience has helped them grow closer as friends. Brad has dumped the bitchy Rose, and is enjoying life as a single man. Ed is about to get married to Maya, and is proud to be her protective man. And Zach has his own girlfriend: Merry Kat, who has come to live with him.

The Gore

Yes, The Zero Boys would be violent, although like Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil, the violence would not overshadow the film. The villains would all have to die pretty gruesome deaths at the hands of our heroes. The discovery of the massacred campsite also would have some cool corpse gore. And let's not forget - the women from the massacred campsite need to get killed in some kind of escape attempt that Maya and Rose survive. 

The movie's tone must be comedic. There has to be action and explosions that are over-the-top, in honor of the 1986 original, and the gory death scenes need to have a punch line where the audience is given the chance to laugh. Some suspense could suffice, but the movie has to funny and entertaining. 

The Characters

Brad Phillips. Male, Late 20s. The Alpha-Male. Handsome and charismatic. He's beginning to think that he's outgrown his group of friends.

Ed Stuart. Male, Late 20s. Nerdy but successful dermatologist. The wimp of the group. He always seems to freeze when it counts. 

Zach Angus. Male, Late 20s. Chubby, bumbling geek, although his heart is in the right place. He lives in the past, never really haven grown up.

Rose. Female, 20s. Bradley’s super-sexy and often shallow girlfriend. He's just started dating her, and she's a bit of a bitch. She doesn't like his friends... at all.

Maya. Female, 20s. Ed’s fiancé. She's super funny and cute. Not the typical "hot girl", but she makes it work with Ed. 

Byter. Male, 20s. Skinny, ill-looking toothless hillbilly son to Vachel. Presumably the youngest in the hillbilly family. He wears oversized overalls and carries a machete. 

Gutso. Male, Late 20s. Extremely fat, huge, hulking hillbilly with no brains. This guy would eat anything - literally. He uses his massive hands to kill.

Merry Kat. Female, Late Teens. The only member of the hillbilly family with a conscious. She's kind of like the outcast of her clan. She befriends Maya, and wants to help her escape.

Vachel. Male, 40s. The leader of the hillbilly family. He’s been illegally making moonshine for decades. His children are from different unfortunate women, who he quickly disposed of after childbirth. 

Ida. Female, 30s. Gross, boyish lesbian hillbilly and oldest child to Vachel. She was raised like a man and thinks like a man. Her weapon of choice is an axe.

Final Thoughts

A remake of The Zero Boys would not just be an homage to the 1986 original, but to backwoods slasher films of all kinds - JUST BEFORE DAWN, MOTHER'S DAY, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, WRONG TURN, and THE HILLS HAVE EYES are the obvious references. This is about those poor unfortunate boyfriends of the pretty heroines finally getting their chance to shine and become the heroes, not matter how dopey they are.

With some impressive action, nice gore, and of course laugh-out-loud sequences, The Zero Boys could be called "The Hangover of horror." And couldn't you just see the three lead roles going to some young Hollywood dudes? Like Channing Tatum as Brad, Michael Cera as Ed, and Jonah Hill as Zach? It's already got Blockbuster written all over it.

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