Well, THAT was quick! Barely a month after SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE languished in limited release just out of my reach, it debuted on PPV for less than the price of a matinee ticket. I believe I got the better deal.
Perhaps not so coincidentally, this film suffered side-by-side with the latest PARANORMAL ACTIVITY entry (still unseen by me). But while director and screenwriter (with Carrie "Evans" Wilson and Emi Mochizuki) Christopher Landon wasn't involved with GHOST DIMENSION, he wrote four P.A. films and also directed the fifth (the not-half-bad PATMO).
SCOUTS GUIDE (there was no way that the Boy Scouts of America would allow their name to be used, but there's no mistaking the organization whose ultimate rank here is "Condor Scout") gives us Tye Sheridan and Logan Miller as a couple of 'aging' (high school) Scouts who long to quit the organization but are still sticking around out of sympathy for their lonely Scoutmaster (David Koechner of KRAMPUS) and to see their nominal best friend Augie (Joey Morgan) achieve Condor status. They're willing enough to go to the campout, but their real plan is to ditch Augie and whoop it up at a super-secret grad party to which they believe they've been invited. Well... they get as far as the local strip club only to realize that the title apocalypse has commenced in their ignorance. If they are to survive (not to mention rescue countless classmates and relatives), they'll have to re-learn the true meaning of Scouting while taking plenty of time out for soul-searching, honesty and reconciliation...
...oh, stop. Just stop. This just goes in the pile with so, SO many other movies that start well, coast along on goodwill and eventually run out of steam no matter how many kitchen-sink/grossout gags they throw at the camera. But I'll give you the breakdown anyway because that's what I do.
Indeed, SCOUTS GUIDE starts SO well that you're convinced you've got a great movie to look forward to. The pre-credits scene, in which a stoner janitor accidentally unleashes the beast in a secret scientific lab (while the genius on duty wages his own war with an uncooperative vending machine) is flat-out terrific. The humiliation of the Scout recruitment effort as the film proper opens is equally hilarious and sympathetic. And yes, there are endless attempts to invent new gags to punctuate the over-saturated scenario--you could point to almost any individual scene and argue "Hey, THAT was funny!" out of context... and in return I would invoke the Hal Needham Road Runner tribute THE VILLAIN and agree that any one scene in that film was plenty funny, but that there was a REASON that the classic cartoons worked best in bursts of under ten minutes each. If your personal taste carries you past the Brittney Spears scene in SCOUTS GUIDE, then more power to you and I certainly don't want to spoil your fun. But that's just about the point where I lost interest in the film... mainly because I scarcely could be brought to care about just about anybody in it.
Well, I did say "just about." Sarah Dumont proves quite the enjoyable and formidable female lead here. The Scouts know for a fact that she dropped out of high school and works at the strip club, so they assume they've got her figured out from the start. Naturally, she's got surprises in store for them and she's easily the best element of the film (though none other than Cloris Leachman contributes some fine surprise work as a stereotypically nasty old neighbor--who, of course, must ALSO be a "crazy cat lady" just so the film can throw in another one-and-done gag).
SCOUTS GUIDE aspires to DEAD/ALIVE and SHAUN OF THE DEAD and certainly has its moments, but in the end it's far more like those belated straight-to-cable RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD sequels (if you even remember those). It's worth a fairly painless tag on your monthly cable bill if you're in the mood... but that's about it. Sorry.
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