Tuesday, 10 November 2015



Maybe it's time to let zombies go. Maybe it's time to turn the life support off and let the walking undead die a natural undeath. It's been fun, and the genre has yielded some genuinely great movies (Romero), as well as some entertainingly silly ones (Fulci), but the sad fact is that zombies, like vampires, just ain't scary any more. Just as Dracula's ilk have been diminished by turning them from blood-drinking demons into romantic sparkly-skinned hunks, so a decade or more of cadaver-centric comedy has robbed the Whatever Of The Dead school of horror of its shock value. And even though the zomcom subgenre has in turn had its moments (Shaun Of The Dead, Dance Of The Dead), there's now the growing sense that it's played out. (Not that a particular cinematic seam having long been strip-mined to exhaustion has ever stopped people trying, as anyone who's seen more than five post-Blair Witch found-footage atrocities will attest.)

The zombs in the dubiously punctuated Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse (it should really be either Scouts' or Scouts:) are played strictly for laughs: an outbreak at some unnamed facility (military? medical?) spreads quickly through a town, unbeknown to the three Boy Scouts camping out in the woods. Two of them actually want to drop out of scouting entirely so they don't have to wear the dorky uniforms and can hang out with the cool kids and maybe get off with the hot chicks - but when confronted by the ambulant dead they find their scouting skills coming in handy. But can they rescue the aforementioned hot chicks at the supercool secret party before the military bomb the town to contain the contagion?

Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse (a project which started afterlife as Scouts Vs Zombies back in 2010 and might have had some currency back then) is actually pretty funny in places, though it does descend too often into the needlessly puerile with its monotonously sex-obsessed young heroes groping zombie boobs and ogling zombie strippers. It feels rather like the frenzied wish-fulfilment fantasies of a 14-year-old dweeb who likes girls and zombies and really wants to see them in the same movie together - that's why there's a superhot shotgun-wielding kickass stripper (cocktail waitress) in there. The film isn't actually scary (though neither was Shaun Of The Dead) but it does have a surprisingly high level of gore and sexual material that feels very much at odds with the lenient 15 certificate, including a penis joke that is quite literally extended beyond breaking point, and a weed-whacker sequence that's referencing the wonderful Brain Dead's lawnmower scene - presumably they felt the comedic edge made it acceptable at the lower category whereas a serious film of that level would score an 18.

On a technical level it's well shot and well put together, and I chuckled more or less throughout, which for a Boy Scouts zombie comedy should be enough, and is certainly more than some official comedies I've watched in recent years (I'm looking at you, Seth Rogen and Will Ferrell). But part of me wants the zombie movie to be seriously apocalyptic, not goonish Friday night knockabout with Britney Spears references. As goonish Friday night knockabout goes, however, it's more than acceptable.


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