Two guys in search of an epic party that’s sure to give them an in with the high school in crowd. Sound familiar? Well, toss in some zombies and short pants, and you’ve got yourself Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. And while Scouts may not be Superbad, it’s not bad; in fact, if you’re down for crude humor this movie is pretty damn good. The gore level is pretty respectable for the genre — let’s face it, it’d better be with quality carnage on basic cable nowadays — and the lead characters have just enough of an arc to keep them from being cardboard cutouts. And who doesn’t love Cloris Leachman? Grade: B
First things first; this ain’t the Boy Scouts. This is a rando, made-up scouting group called the American Scout Society. But damn if they don’t look like BSA, complete with merit badges, silly all-ages uniforms, and an overly-cheerful goody-goody scout leader. But Troop 264 – all three of them – is about to get a real dose of survival skills training when a local bio lab janitor inadvertently releases a zombie into gen pop. Unfortunately, two thirds of the troop is thisclose to quitting Scouts. “Junior year is when all the girls become sluts!” It’s up to Ben (the cool one), Carter (the crazy one) and Augie (the dedicated one) to get their act together and save the world. Or at least their town of Deer Field, CA. Now where did their Scout Leader go…?
Fans of zombie movies will dig the gore here; there’s plenty of it, and a few scenes remind me of Dead Alive in terms of all-out red. In fact I’m betting this film’s zombie weed whacker is a homage to Peter Jackson’s gorefest. The zombies here are a mix of 28 Days Later fast zombies and Romero’s torn-up zombies (there’s even a zombie that harkens back to Day‘s tongue-lolling zombie.) Scouts zombies also have a bit of knowledge of their prior lives, and are able to open doors, shoot guns (well, not with any real aim) and pole-dance. Yeah. There’s a stripper zombie here. Scouts definitely keeps the bawdy humor out and proud, complete with zombie peen, naked butt biting, and the most unfortunate oral encounter since Re-Animator.
Director/screenwriter Christopher Landon (yep, Michael’s son) has done good work on the Paranormal Activity series, and here he’s able to keep teens sounding like teens (even though at times it’s a bit too silly.) But Scouts is a film that knows what it wants its audience to be; young guys down for gore and zombie nudity. It’s R-rated fun for the fake-ID set, but older genre fans will find much to love here too. The FX is top-notch, the mythology just fleshed out enough to keep the action rolling along, and there are even a few stellar zombie kills I’d never seen before. Hint: there’s a scene with a broken liquor bottle that really blew me away. There’s also Cloris Leachman as Carter’s crazy-cat-lady neighbor that doesn’t make it through the zombieness unscathed. It’s not a huge part, but she’s still fabulous.
At the screening, a Dead Dillon (aka Dillon Francis) started things off with an EDM mashup featuring an acid-trip montage of the stars from the movie, anthropomorphic donuts, and talking fried chicken. So yeah, you know this is one of those “look — we’re craaaaayzeee!” kinda movies. And it is. There’s zombies on trampolines, a kickass girl named Denise (gotta love when you hear your name on the big screen), and life or death balancing on a zombie peen. But there’s also friendship, a cool guy-gal bond that doesn’t end with bumping uglies, and an ending that doesn’t’ have sequel written all over it. Definitely worth a look for genre fans, and for anyone looking for something splattery but not too spooky for the Halloweekend.