Saturday, September 20, 2008


Anyone trolling video shelves or surfing late-night cable in the early '90s no doubt stumbled across this memorably-titled Troma pick-up. Promoted at the time as featuring a glorified cameo by MTV VJ Martha Quinn, 1991's CHOPPER CHICKS IN ZOMBIETOWN has since become better known as one of Billy Bob Thornton's rent-paying gigs before his SLING BLADE breakout.

Like a lot of straight-to-tape horror flicks from that era, CHOPPER CHICKS is fairly enjoyable with the right frame of mind (or blood-alcohol level), but does little to satisfy beyond the slight requirements of a party tape. Director Dan Hoskins seems to be striving for more than just an undead quickie, but his handling of both the comedic and horrific elements sabotages his ambitions. The humor is ham-fisted and clumsy, and his makes the deadly mistake of playing the zombies for laughs (always a bad sign, and their accompanying music is so irritatingly moronic it makes their minimal presence almost unwatchable). Hoskins also has some serious pacing issues, letting his story get bogged down in domestic melodrama when it should be doling out zombies.

Aside from a couple of hammy performances by character actors Don Calfa and Earl Boen, the acting isn't too terrible, given the material, and a surprising number of the actors on hand have gone on to respectable, if not high-profile, careers. Quinn's slide into pop culture obscurity has rendered her blip of an appearance even more miniscule (honestly, I had trouble picking her out after all these years), but it's Thornton that most people will be curious to see. Shortly before getting trapped in his rednecks-n-retards pigeonhole, he comes off in CHOPPER CHICKS a little like Kevin Costner in his prime, albeit more low-key and kinda dorky.

Though technically competent, it's still inarguably a stupid and juvenile picture and should be approached with caution. I can't say if the younger generation of horror fans would even get a derisive laugh out of it (it seems somehow best appreciated, if that's the word, strictly by us Gen-Xers), but it'll do to pass a slow liquor-fueled night.

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