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Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015) movie poster Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

Theatrical Release: October 30, 2015 / Running Time: 93 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Christopher Landon / Writers: Carrie Evans, Emi Mochizuki (story & screenplay); Christopher Landon (screenplay); Lona Williams (story)

Cast: Tye Sheridan (Ben Goudy), Logan Miller (Carter Grant), Joey Morgan (Augie Foster), Sarah Dumont (Denise Russo), David Koechner (Scout Leader Kip Rogers), Halston Sage (Kendall Grant), Cloris Leachman (Miss Fielder), Niki Koss (Chloe), Hiram A. Murray (Corporal Reeves), Lukas Gage (Travis), Drew Droege (Drunk Man), Patrick Schwarzenegger (Jeff), Blake Anderson (Ron the Janitor), Elle Evans (Amber), Matty Cardarople (Jawless Zombie)

Buy Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD DVD Instant Video

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse adds another rendezvous to pop culture's present love affair with the undead.
As you can guess from the title, this one takes a comedic bend, aiming for that same horror comedy sweet spot that made Zombieland a hit in 2009.

The film opens by introducing us to our three Scouts, who are never identified as Boy or Cub for obvious reasons. Troop 264 is comprised of just three friends, high school sophomores Ben (Mud's Tye Sheridan), Carter (Logan Miller), and Augie (Joey Morgan), and their enthusiastic toupeed Scout Leader Rogers (David Koechner). Secretly, Ben and Carter have been talking about leaving the Scouts, which hasn't recruited a new member in ages. Tonight, though, they are sticking around for their nerdy, chubby pal Augie, who is getting his condor badge as part of a camping trip.

Denise (Sarah Dumont), Ben (Tye Sheridan), and Carter (Logan Miller) find themselves surrounded by zombies after locking themselves into a jail cell.

Ben and the randy Carter do decide they'll sneak out in the night to crash a secret senior party they've been tipped off to. But the night has other plans for them, when they sneak into local strip club Lawrence of Alabia and are treated to a dance from a blood-spilling stripper. As if the title didn't make it clear, the pals are facing a zombie apocalypse, something foretold by a prologue, in which a "Black Widow"-singing lab janitor (Blake Anderson) raises the wrath of zombie, and another scene, in which Ben and Carter drive into a whitetail deer, only to have it disappear.

The two teens, their overweight pal (wise to their plans and hurt by them), and a shotgun-wielding high school dropout turned cocktail waitress (Sarah Dumont) try to brave the night full of ravenous, reasonably-paced flesh eaters and find safety along with military called in to contain, quarantine, and evacuate.

Scouts Guide has a good sense of humor about it. And it occasionally hits its comic marks, with fun use of songs like Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" and Britney Spears' "Baby...One More Time." But after a promising start, the movie devolves too frequently into typical modern horror traps, relying heavily on over-the-top blood, violence, and grossness that must have made obtaining an R rating from the MPAA an uphill battle.

That design puts Scouts Guide among the rare breed of movies that are teen-oriented but rated R. Most of those, from The Breakfast Club to Superbad, have held value for adults, who could relate by recalling their own high school experiences, but Scouts more resembles Project X, a movie that would strike even many college students as sophomoric.

Three scouts (Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, and Joey Morgan) and one cocktail waitress (Sarah Dumont) put their heads together when faced with zombie apocalypse in "Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse."

While Scouts Guide bombed in theaters, grossing just $3.7 million domestic on a $15 M production budget, you can't chalk up the failure strictly to courting an audience of 17 and 18-year-olds who could legally buy tickets.
The movie's theatrical reception became something of a case study for Paramount Pictures, who used this and, a week earlier, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, to try shortening the theatrical window. That's a touchy topic with exhibitors, who have resisted change even as the shelf life of most movies has rapidly devolved to just a few weeks.

When the studio announced plans to make their two fall horror movies available on VOD just seventeen days after their theatrical debuts, many major theater chains (Carmike, Cinemark, and Regal) refused to screen the movie at all. Other chains (AMC, National Amusements, Alamo Drafthouse, and Canada's Cineplex) agreed to Paramount's experiment, but they could only give Scouts Guide a theater count of 1,509, around half of what a typical nationwide release secures these days.

Paramount waited just over two months after the Halloween weekend debut to bring Scouts Guide to physical media, releasing it last week in a single-disc DVD and the two-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack reviewed here.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Descriptive Video Service),
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, Portuguese; BD movie-only: English for Hearing Impaired
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (1 BD-50 & 1 DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Scouts Guide might have been marginalized in theaters, but this was still a $15 million production from a major studio, so not surprisingly, it looks like one in Paramount's sterling Blu-ray presentation. The 2.40:1 visuals are sharp and vibrant, while the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio does a lively job of distributing dialogue, music, and those zombie sound effects. A variety of dubs and subtitles are characteristically provided.

"Scouts Guide to Filmmaking" offers a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage. The Zombie Makeup FX Handbook illustrates the production's Academy-overlooked techniques.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's all-HD bonus features begin with "Scouts Guide to Filmmaking" (29:34),
a thorough making-of documentary which collects candid remarks from the filmmakers and cast, tons of behind-the-scenes footage, and real insight into various facets of the film's creation, from cinematography and raunch to long Mondays and stretchy prosthetic penises.

While you might feel that long piece said it all, three shorter topical featurettes follow.

"The Zombie Makeup FX Handbook" (5:37) shows us the "medically accurate" vein tattoo effects applied to the faces of the film's zombie extras.

"Undead Movement Guidelines: Zombie Choreography" (5:12) lives up to its title with looks at how the zombies were instructed to move in different ways based on their characters.

Ben (Tye Sheridan) and Carter (Logan Miller) wait to be helped at the counter of an oddly dead pharmacy in this deleted scene. The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse DVD main menu resembles the Blu-ray's, only without a bonus features section.

"Uniforms and You: Costume Design" (5:11) considers the scouts' uniforms and other wardrobe choices as a reflection of those characters.

Finally, we get a short deleted scenes section (2:36) consisting of an extended version of the film-opening low-grade scout recruitment video
and Ben and Carter's otherwise missing visit to a desolate pharmacy to buy condoms.

Per Paramount's practices, the DVD has no bonus features at all.

Each disc utilizes the same static, silent, fast-loading main menu screen. Curiously, the studio has even done away with previews for other properties.

The plainly labeled blue and gray discs share a glossily-slipcovered eco-friendly keepcase (both featuring the throwback Drew Struzan-inspired poster artwork) with an insert supplying your Digital HD with UltraViolet code and doubling as an ad for the Scouts Guide game app.

After stocking up at the hardware store, the scouts arrive at the seniors' secret party equipped to save the day from zombie apocalypse.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse delivers the occasional laugh, but too often relies on extreme violence and gross-out gags to get a reaction. This middling horror comedy will be best appreciated by those fond of a blend of those genres and perhaps those with a soft spot for the boy scout life. Paramount's combo pack sports great picture and sound, plus some substantial making-of material. I can't recommend it as more than a one-time viewing, though, so it is best suited for a rental, and even then only for interested, genre-inclined parties.

Buy Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Reviewed January 10, 2016.



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