Roger Braden suggested today’s movie and I would have never watched it otherwise. I’m glad he brought it to my attention. Check out his Facebook group Valley Nightmares, which is all about the history of the films that played at the drive-ins and theaters in his home state of Kentucky. He also writes from Drive-In Asylum and is a great dude.
Christopher Landon — the son of Michael Landon — is known today for his two Happy Deathday movies, but before that, he directed three Paranormal Activity films and this, a movie he said was “a gory R-rated version of The Goonies and Gremlins or even The Monster Squad.”
The movie starts with Ron the janitor (Blake Anderson from TV’s Workaholics) is cleaning a lab and generally not paying any attention to his surroundings, a medical experimentation lab. He accidentally releases a zombie and is bitten, then attacks a scientist before the opening credits roll.
That’s when we meet out heroes — Ben (Tye Sheridan, the latest X-Men movies, Ready Player One), Carter and Augie — trying to recruit more members for their scout troop. Augie loves being a scout, but his friends want to grow up and become more popular.
As they argue in a car about it — Augie is about to get the highest honor, the Condor Patch from Scoutmaster Rogers (David Koechner) — they hit a deer which gets up despite being dead. Meanwhile, we see the seeds of romance between Carter’s sister Kendall (Halston Sage from TV’s The Orville) and Ben.
Kendall’s boyfriend invites Ben and Carter to a Secret Senior Party. As they go to get alcohol for their big night out, they run into a cocktail waitress named Denise. She hits it off immediately with Ben when he fixes her purse and buys booze for the boys.
The guys meet up with Augie for a night of camping, but the Scout Master hasn’t shown. Despite a great talk about what their friendship means, they still ditch Augie for the party, but decide to stop at the strip club. They’re soon attacked by zombies and saved by Denise.
Augie goes to find his Scout Master, who has been zombified, and the rest of our heroes get locked into a holding cell and surrounded by zombies. What follows are a series of adventures as they learn that the town has been overtaken and is scheduled to be bombed by the military.
Everyone splits up, with Denise trying to get to the military and the boys trying to save their friends at a party. There’s a great scene here where the boys “Rambo up” and use a hardware store and their merit badge skills to get ready to attack the zombies.
The wholesale zombie destruction that ensues is pretty awesome, with some great gore and plenty of humorous moments. I really like the blue tones and neon effects here, as it’s different than any zombie film I’ve seen, as the party is turned into a feeding ground for the undead.
I also liked that being scouts uniquely prepared the boys for surviving. It’s a fun idea that’s told pretty well. I also dug some of the Easter eggs, like Haddonfield only being a few miles away and the trampoline being lifted from the classic videogame Zombies Ate My Neighbors.