Chopper Chicks in Zombietown (1989)
By: Trist Jones on August 2, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Stomp Visual (Australia). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 85 minutes
The Movie
Director: Dan Hoskins
Starring: Jamie Rose, Catherine Carlen, Lycia Naff, Don Calfa, Billy Bob Thornton
Screenplay: Dan Hoskins
Music: Daniel May
Country: USA
Everyone who knows Troma, knows that Troma films aren't exactly the gold standard when it comes to a quality cinematic experience. I remember the first time I saw a Troma film, back when I was a youngen, and balked at how poor a film it was. Of course, back then I didn't know that they were meant to be funny, and that the quality of the film and content was part of the joke, but I'm pretty sure there are plenty of others who were introduced to Troma the same way. If you weren't, I'm sure you understand what I'm getting at, but now that I'm a little older, and a little wiser about the ways of the world, I can appreciate Troma films a lot more. Still, in spite of that acceptance of the "Troma Experience", Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town brought all those awkward feelings of "What the Hell is this crap?" screaming forward from 1991.

Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town is summed up pretty effectively by its title. A gang of biker women make a pit stop in a Podunk mining town that finds itself overwhelmed by zombies. Sounds interesting when you look at it like that. Sounds like something with promise. Oh, hang on… this is Troma. But even that presents a huge problem – even if it is Troma, the directors usually try to find something to make the film likeable, or to appeal to a niche audience who will love it until they die. I can't imagine a single damned thing that would endear this film even to Troma purists for more than half an hour. All that potential – the Troma potential that is – vacates Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town as soon as the girls arrive, leaving a flat, uninspired snooze fest that's got about as much comedic value as Carrot Top stand up routines.

The main thrust of the story plays out like Re-Animator meets Plague of the Zombies. Only worse. Crazy scientist and dwarf hater Ralph Willum is killing people and bringing them back as zombies to work in the local mine. Girls rock up to get their rocks off, and the rest is history. Now, the core problem above comes down to far too many smaller gripes to get into in the space of this review, but the dominant detractors are obvious from the get go. The actors are awful (yes, even for Troma), the production values are worse (yes, even for Troma), and the script, along with the way this film actually plays out, is almost on par with Frost: Portrait of a Vampire, as being one of the worst things I've laid eyes on.

The great thing about other Troma films, is that they usually try to get relatively attractive girls to fill their roles, in spite of their acting prowess. Forget that here. Not only can't any of the girls act, not a single one of them elicits any sort of sexual response. There's one scene were the most unattractive beast of the whole group stomps into a bar (where they're holding the wake for the latest death), changes the music to some incredibly poor power rock track, and proceeds to perform the most unappealing 'tease' dance, which is intercut with the rest of the Cycle Sluts (their biker gang name) screwing around with the locals. It's awful, truly, truly awful. The rest of the cast is made up predominantly of locals and no-namers, though a couple of recognisable names (including one who's presence is made almost a selling point of the DVD) are there. Earl Boen, who plays Sarah Connor's psychiatrist in the Terminator films is in there to a very limited capacity, and then of course, there's Billy Bob Thornton. As I said, his name is used as a selling point for this film, but even Billy Bob fans would turn their noses up at this. Sure, it's one of his first film roles, but he's still as ugly as sin and his performance is painful to watch. The only noteworthy performance in the whole film comes from Ed Gale, who plays the midget lackey to Ralph Willum (Ed also played Howard the Duck).

The story's progression is bogged down horrendously by pointless asides, making the whole thing feel like a continual drag, and when gags in the sequences fall flat (which is a constant) the drag becomes wearing – really wearing. Don't think that switching on the commentary is going to make the viewing experience any better either. Dan Hoskins, the writer and director gives what is without doubt the worst commentary I think I've ever listened to. The guy sounds as though he's preparing to open his wrists once the commentary is over! He talks about his work in such a negative and depressing way that listening to him is almost like watching the rape scene from Irreversible – you wish it would finish, but the further it goes the more desensitised you become until you just don't care anymore. It's as though failure had just completely taken over and manifested itself as a man, and were sitting there talking to you through horrible, tinny audio with an ever-present noise floor (that annoying buzz you get on poor audio recordings).

The core reason for his depression, and mine as the viewer, are the special effects (special as in "school for special children") and awful set pieces. Hoskins admits in his commentary he was aiming for realism, and well before you're exposed to the awful zombies, you're served with the shoddiest looking mine entrance ever put on film. Externally, it looks like something ripped straight out of Scooby Doo – only a cheap, knock off that looks as flimsy as a house of cards, while the inside is a blank wall that looks as though it's got that terrible "tile pattern" linoleum stuck to it. It's all supposed to look threatening and real but it's so unbelievably cheap that any idiot who buys into it deserves to be completely trounced.

The soundtrack is just so awful that it doesn't help the film win anyone over. The zombies have this terrible sort of "Teddy Bear's Picnic" style theme that's enough to make anyone wretch and the rest is just bad, late Eighties rock music laced with a completely forgettable synth score.
Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town is presented fullscreen, as most Troma flicks are, and the print is pretty sub-par. It's watchable, but certainly nothing to write home about. There's bits of film damage here and there along with an ever-present grain and hazing.
Once again, the Tromaville standard: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. That also doesn't mean that the sound from the actual film is that great; there's a lot of noise floor and bad audio that is more likely to have come from the actual capturing of the sound on set than any sort of stuff up in the post production or DVD production. You've got the option of the audio commentary, but unless you get off on listening to the depressed or feel like you need to feel better than someone else, just forget it.
Extra Features
You get a whole slew of insubstantial extras. The introduction by Lloyd Kaufman and Billy Bob Thornton is just Kaufman being an ass with no Billy Bob anywhere. The extra footage of Chopper Chicks in Japan was just a couple of brief clips from the film itself and didn't even seem like there was anything different. You get a segment from Troma's Edge TV, which is probably the only good thing on the whole DVD (which isn't really saying that much because even that is pretty pox). There are some interviews with the key cast members, and after the commentary, it's kind of good to see someone enthused about the film, and at least their anecdotes aren't all Doom and Gloom like Hoskins'. The feature trailers are blocked out as they are with most other Stomp Visual Troma releases and you get a promo for Kaufman's book "Make Your Own Damn Movie!"
The Verdict
I'm not a big fan of Troma, but I know people who are hardcores, and even they think this is trash. It's below Troma's usual standards and a complete snooze fest. If you really, really want this film, just to complete your Troma collection, try and find it second hand or somewhere cheap because it sure as Hell isn't worth the twenty-four or so dollars it costs to buy in stores.
Movie Score
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