So, after stream-stumbling into Omar Jacobo’s enjoyable, Mexican-made horror FUBAR that is Blood Freaks, I began picking through distributor Rising Sun Media’s Facebook page — and this feature film debut from writer/director Eric Eichelberger caught my eye (and dislodged from its socket). And from what I can see, while GSZM was released to VOD streaming in 2018; it’s now offered as a new, free-with-ads stream on Tubi in 2021 (or at least the tail end of 2020): I should know, as I am constantly farming the Tubi platform for films to watch — especially new and off-the-reservation flicks — and this film never populated on my previous digital excavations. Ah, wait . . . the film, in fact, hit the festival circuit in 2018 and debuted on streaming platforms in October 2020. So there you go. Roll ’em, Dano!
Here’s the plot synopsis from the Rising Sun Media marketing department:
Four girls find themselves in a reform school run by an evil woman that joins forces with her equally demented scientist brother who creates a serum to turn attractive rocker guys into lobotomized slaves for his underground movie business. The scientist brother laces Girl Scout cookies with the serum while his sister offers full pardons to the girls to sell them. They are aware that they aren’t your average cookies and agree. The evil plan backfires and the rocker guys turn into flesh-eating zombies and terrorize the town. It’s up to the girls to clean up the mess and restore peace before it’s too late!
Now, with a synopsis like that, what’s not to watch? Plus, more drug-laced cookies and zombies, like in Blood Freaks? And reform school girls in girl scout uniforms. Lobotomized sex slaves. A scientist running an underground porn business. A zombified rock band. This sounds like a John Waters Pink Flamingos joint.
Of course, I’m all in. And it’s the latest film from the guy who rebooted Death Race back to its campy-beginnings with Death Race 2050! Oops, wait. That’s G.J. Echternkamp who wrote and directed that cheezy-campy-crazy fest. This cheezy-campy-crazy fest is the feature film debut by Eric Eichelberger. (Hey, I’m the guy, despite how much how I adore them both, perpetually confuses the German bombshellness and Swedish schwingness of Elke Sommer and Brit Elkland in reviews, so cut me a break!)
Eichelberger’s debut feature film (he’s worked primarily as a reality television editor; he was an art director on Stuart Gordon’s King of the Ants (2003), if that’s a film you’ve seen; I haven’t) is all about perspective: If you’re a 20-something digital streamer that never experienced the analog SOV-VHS ’80s (e.g, pick up a Don Dohler flick, watch films like Spine; or, in a horror perspective, Curse of the Blue Lights) and the celluloid La Brea tar pits’ ass jawbone-dislodging of ’70s grindhouse and exploitation flicks onto brick-and-mortar home video rental shelves (check out Bloodsucking Freaks), or woke up late-nites on Fridays and Saturdays to watch Cinemax’s “After Dark” programming blocks rife with sexed-up Basic Instinct-clones (Harry Tampa’s Fleshtone is an example) and X’d-up T&A comedies of the Porky’s variety (we did a “Drive-In Friday” tribute to those ’80s teen-sex comedies), then of course — you’ll hit your favorite streaming platform or review site and christen GSZM as the “worst movie you’ve ever seen.”
Ha! Then ye digital reviewer, thou has never tossed back a sour ale of the Eddie Romero or Godfrey Ho variety, or noshed on Hard Rock Zombies (which is GSZM’s closest celluloid relative for this reviewer) and other (awful) ’80s heavy metal horror ditties of the Blood Tracks variety.
Eichelberger is one of us: he’s watched way to many Italian zombie movies (your poor mom!). He’s probably watched Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (1979) more than myself and Sam the Boss, combined. And it’s a foregone conclusion the ‘Eich also partakes of the zombie cheap-slop, such as Jess Franco’s Oasis of the Zombie (1981), Jean Rollin’s guacamole-smeared living-dead romp Zombie Lake (1981), and (ugh) Bruno Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead (please, Bruno, just stop it already). Did the ‘Eich watch Wendy O. Williams in Reform School Girls (1986)? You bet he did.
All of those film come to play in the frames of GSZM. And like those films, this one is also strictly for adults only: it’s lewd, it’s lascivious, it’s gratuitous, and nudity is at forefront (and back!) for extended periods. (You’ve been warned.) However, unlike most of those films, which were not homages to anything other than cinematic ineptitude-by-low budget, Eichelberger’s debut, while admittedly production-bad with tragic thespin’, is supposed to be “bad” to mimic the bad films in which it’s tipping its hat. (And a couple truths: This is actually a well-shot film, void of any of that annoying, fish-eyed handheld lensing of the i-Phone variety cloggin’ up Amazon and Tubi. And that Eric Eichelberger is on his way to being the new David DeCoteau (who we worship at B&S, so know your Ellen Cabot, ye reader). And that the most experienced actors on board, leads Vance Clemente (makes me think he’s Crispin Clover’s brother) and Jessica Mazo, are actually quite skilled; here’s to hoping they move onto larger roles or nail a guest-starring network series gig. Oh, and adding to the meta: GSZM features the last ever screen performance from the late Bloodsucking Freaks director, Joel M. Reed, who we lost this past April.)
No, Girls Scout Zombie Massacre is not a 10-star film by any means. It’s also not a 1-star film, either, you IMDb’ing Amazon scamps. It’s also not Shaun of the Dead or Return of the Living Death nor Re-Animator or Severed Ties, either (and what films are, as they’re zombie-horror-comedy gold standards). GSZM is what it is: an intentionally bad, campy-comedy-horror movie — and it’s inherently preposterous to give Eichelberger’s film a bad review. Look, if you’ve sat through any Troma Team film (shite, don’t get Sam started on a Troma tear) and you’re into Charles Band’s direct to video oeuvres, with their soupçons of gore, a dashes of comedy, and smidgens of T&A, then there’s something for you to watch. The only thing that’s missing is Eddie Deezen (Beverly Hills Vamp) as our mad scientist and, along with Michelle Bauer, Linnea Quigley (The Good Things Devils Do), and Brinke Stevens co-starring, we’d have ourselves another USA’s Up All Night romp with back-to-back showings of Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Sorority Babes in the Slime-Bowl-O-Rama, and Nightmare Sisters.
The only downside to the film — IMO, so take it as you may — is that the film is a bit too long and would have been better served by a cut to a more first-time-director-streaming-friendly 80-minutes. But this is a self-financed and produced film with none of those “no, thou can not do that on film” pesky studio suits or distributors to rein it all in. But that’s par for the streaming course in the digital lawless wastelands of the 21st Century VOD-tundras. A couple reviewers mentioned a 70-minute running time, which would be one hour eleven minutes. So, we’re assuming, what we are able to currently free-stream on Tubi must be a “director’s cut,” because that cut runs 111-minutes, that is, a one hour fifty-one minute running time. But it’s the steaming verse, so we give the widest of wide berths to the new kids sailing the seven seas of the Amazon-fed oceans.
All in all: A job well done, Eric, we look forward to your next film; definitely make another one. And you’ve inspired us to watch — finally, the one Gordon film I haven’t watched — King of the Ants, on Tubi. Of course, the whole reason for this review is for you, dear B&S reader, to check out Ghoul Scout Zombie Massacre on Tubi courtesy of Rising Sun Media. You can learn more about the film on GSZM’s official website.
And be sure to check out our recent interview with director Eric Eichelberger.
Disclaimer: No, we do not know the filmmaker. And we didn’t receive a review request, either. We discovered this film on our own and genuinely enjoyed the film.