And the zombie train rolls on. Will it ever run out of steam? Some fans hope it never will – witness the overwhelming popularity of TV's The Walking Dead – while others think the zombie genre jumped the shark a long time ago. And they are the ones that this film is definitely not made for, although Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is a rather cute, and pretty funny, mashup of a couple of popular genres. And in that regard, it works well.
With computer geeks now the new cool kids (because these days, thanks to the internet and smartphones EVERYONE is a computer geek) Hollywood needs a new subgroup to pick on – so who better than boy scouts? Those silly shorts and their neckerchiefs and wattles and badges and "dib dib dibs" and lust for sleeping in tents in the middle of nowhere and eating beans and franks out of a tin – all ripe for parody. The zombie side of things is taken a little more seriously though, albeit embedded in a somewhat smutty teen comedy – think Superbad, Weird Science, American Pie or Porky's mixed with the Dawn of the Dead remake (because here, some of the zombies can more fast, while others are the more traditional shamblers).
Our three heroes – Ben (Sheridan), Carter (Miller) and Augie (Morgan) – are, of course, boy scouts. When an unexplained zombie outbreak occurs (it all kicks off, of course, in a mysterious laboratory), these supergeeks have to save the day, with a helping hand from the cute cocktail waitress from the local strip club, Lawrence Of Alabia – who, we soon learn, is pretty handy with a shotgun. Fans of gore will be please to know this film doesn't hold back in that department – zombies are regularly despatched in wonderfully messy ways. There are plenty of digs at pop culture and generation gaps – scoutmaster Koechner and horrid cat-lady Leachman are the butt of some pretty decent gags – and there are plenty of dick and boob jokes, too (mostly at the expense of the zombies).
Films such as this are mainly about having a laugh, on that front Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (which was originally going to be called Scouts Vs Zombies) succeeds admirably – it's terribly funny, and you'll find yourself laughing throughout but feeling guilty afterwards. And it's not the most PC film you will see this year. Apart from Dumont as the arse-kicking waitress Denise, most of the actresses in the cast are there simply to be eye candy (hello, Halston). And this being Hollywood, there has to be a lesson to be learned – and here it's all about the importance of friendship and sticking together through hard times.
It's energetic and well paced, entertaining and silly, with plenty of laughs (who knew that zombies had such stretchy penises?) and some gloriously graphic kills. It's certainly not going to change the world, but if you're a zombie fan who enjoys a giggle with their gore, then this is a decent way to spend an hour and a half.