A Certain Ratio: Dr. Lauren & Darren Review “Zombeavers” (2014)

Dr. Lauren McIntyre is a horror obsessive, tattoo connoisseur, natural Goth and cat wrangler. Lauren paired her viewing of Zombeavers with Dwayne Johnson’s Rampage and highly recommends the latter if you want to see a giant wolf taking down a helicopter. Say hi to her on Twitter: @noddinggoth

Darren Gaskell is a horror obsessive and “enthusiastic” karaoke performer. Darren is fed up of beaver-related jokes and if anyone else uses one he’ll lodge a formal complaint, dam it! Say hi to him on Twitter: @darren_gaskell

*** WARNING: WE DROP THE ODD SPOILER AND DROP THE ODD F-BOMB IN THE FOLLOWING REVIEW. THERE’S ALSO SOME DISCUSSION OF POTENTIALLY UPSETTING CONTENT ***

ZOMBEAVERS (2014)

Starring: Cortney Palm, Rachel Melvin, Lexi Atkins

Writers: Al Kaplan, Jordan Rubin, Jon Kaplan

Director: Jordan Rubin

Darren: Okay, this one is Jordan Rubin’s nature-run-amuck story. With the help of toxic waste. It’s Zombeavers.

Dr. Lauren: Yay! New to Netflix this week, I think.

Darren: It all kicks off when two of the least conscientious waste disposal people lose a barrel of toxic waste after hitting a deer on the road. Considering it just rolls off the back quite slowly it then does a bit of a pirouette, picks up speed and is suddenly bouncing down a massive hill, then it flies into a river.

Dr. Lauren: I must say that the load they’re carrying isn’t that secure.

Darren: It’s not.

Dr. Lauren: I wouldn’t want to be driving behind them,

Darren: They’re not particularly worried about what’s dropped off the back. In the opening credits sequence you get to see where this toxic waste barrel is going, ending up at a beaver dam where it very conveniently springs a massive leak. It’s gone down rapids and it must have travelled down a hundred miles of river but when it finally comes to rest, that’s when it springs a leak.

Dr. Lauren: Surely toxic waste is gonna be too heavy to float, right?

Darren: Yeah. I’m thinking so. It appears very buoyant here.

Dr. Lauren: Having said that, I don’t think that they’re going for realism in this film.

Darren: When your film’s predicated on zombie beavers attacking people, I’m guessing that the last thing they thought of was whether or not toxic waste floats.

Dr. Lauren: I’ve been meaning to watch this film for years. Was it at FrightFest a few years back?

Darren: I think it did play FrightFest and I do remember seeing it on Sky Cinema not that long afterwards.

Dr. Lauren: It’s been kicking around on DVD for a while and now that it’s on Netflix it popped up in my recommendations.

Darren: The Strong Language and Violent Scenes podcast did an episode on it quite recently.

Dr. Lauren: Did they?

Darren: I’m pretty sure they did. I think it was Mitch [Bain, of SLVS] who chose it. And it’s the sort of film that really fits the format. You could go in there to defend it. Even looking at it from an impartial point of view it’s probably not the greatest horror film you’ll ever see.

Dr. Lauren: I’ve seen a lot worse though.

Darren: Yeah, it’s fun. And. at 77 minutes, it’s short. I think the filmmakers knew they’d be pushing their luck if they stretched it out any longer than that.

Dr. Lauren: I’ll tell you what, I was quite happy that they decided to go down the puppet and animatronic route for the beavers rather than computer effects. Even before the beavers become intoxicated with the toxic waste and they’re happily sat on their dam beavering away…it’s not great looking animatronics but they’re all right.

Darren: They’re not especially realistic but that doesn’t matter. And it’s better than having CGI.

Dr. Lauren: That’s one of the things I hate about cheap, made for TV or straight to DVD stuff, especially if it’s about animals gone wrong, like Four-Headed Shark or Croctopus. It’s usually a shit CGI fest so I’m quite appreciative of the puppetry.

Darren: The puppets are amusing. They’re quite well done.

Dr. Lauren: They’re funny.

Darren: It’s not meant to be at all realistic and you get some good moments like the point where, after they’ve murdered someone, you get two of the beavers having a laugh with each other.

Dr. Lauren: I really did like the beavers.

Darren: And most of the people in this movie are such utter douchebags that you’re pretty much on the side of the beavers from the start.

Dr. Lauren: Yeah, there wasn’t really anybody in it who was that likeable. Maybe the older lady who introduces herself when the girls arrive. And I guess you’re supposed to feel quite sympathetic towards the girl who’s been cheated on but I actually didn’t.

Darren: No, neither did I. When you’re introduced to these three girls – Jenn, Mary and Zoe – none of them are particularly sympathetic characters.

Dr. Lauren: No, not all all. The one that’s brought her dog along, the minute they showed the dog in the car I thought “That dog’s fucked”.

Darren: That’s where it lost a few points for me. You know I’m fed up of seeing pets killed on film.

Dr. Lauren: Yes.

Darren: Also, considering that this is quite a silly movie, the way that the dog gets killed in this one is really mean-spirited.

Dr. Lauren: Yes. The dog’s the nicest character in the film.

Darren: It is. You want the dog to live and the way that it departs the proceedings is horrible. One of the characters sacrifices the dog and at that point you’ll probably be thinking “I can’t wait for this guy to die”.

Dr. Lauren: He was already King Douchebag anyway what with him knocking off his girlfriend’s mate and then he throws the dog at the beavers which is awful. He’s never really set up to be a nice guy.

Darren: Without trying to give away the ending, it does some interesting things with regards to the potential survivor. You start off thinking it’s definitely going to be one person and then it takes several different turns.

Dr. Lauren: I’m not going to spoil it but when things change up a gear I was not expecting that at all. In fact, I thought it was a dream sequence.

Darren: Yeah. I’m really not sure why I hadn’t remembered that from the previous time I saw it but I was like “What? Hang on a minute, I don’t recall this happening!” so either I was asleep the first time or for some reason that sequence was wiped from my memory. When that kicked in I remembered what happened in the rest of the movie but I can’t understand why I didn’t know that was coming this time round. It’s not like it’s a boring part of the film.

Dr. Lauren: I quite enjoyed that, it was a clever and unexpected place for it to go.

Darren: I think it’s got a pretty good idea of exactly how ridiculous it is and it does play up to a lot of the tropes without it being overly annoying. Once the set-up’s taken care of, however, it’s quite a while before people start dying.

Dr. Lauren: Mm.

Darren: Although when they do start dying everybody carks it pretty quickly.

Dr. Lauren: There’s a fair amount of gore in there. That first beaver that they’re smashing the shit out of – well, it doesn’t die but you’ll know that. The bit with the foot I thought was fucking hilarious.

Darren: Yeah, the running gag with the foot is pretty good all the way to the point where there’s a discussion later on about what to do with it.

Dr. Lauren: Oh, it was well past it by then.

Darren: This whole thing about, medically, what can do you with a severed foot? How can you preserve it so it has the best chance of being re-attached?

Dr. Lauren: You definitely don’t put it straight on ice because it burns the tissue. That foot had been severed nearly all day so I think it was past its best.

Darren: And one of the characters comes to more or less that conclusion even though someone else has been carrying it around in a plastic bag for most of the film.

Dr. Lauren: Sweating away.

Darren: It’s the sort of thing that I’m guessing played FrightFest in the late night slot.

Dr. Lauren: In that kind of slot, when you’ve had a couple of beers and you’re with a festival audience, it should go down really well because it’s fun. Perfect for when you have a few mates round and there’s a few drinks. Definitely worth checking out if you’ve got Netflix.

Darren: Yeah. It’s not going to be the best thing you’ve ever seen. It’s over with fairly quickly, it doesn’t really hang around. It doesn’t drag.

Dr. Lauren: Is that the best thing you can say about it? That it’s over fairly quickly?

Darren: Ha! That’s not quite what I’m saying. I think it wouldn’t have got away with being, say, 95, 100 minutes. The credits are rolling at around 71 minutes in. You do get some outtakes and then you get a good song. The Zombeavers song.

Dr. Lauren: I’d forgotten about the song.

Darren: It’s a bit of a cheesy lounge rendition of what’s just happened in the movie. And I’ve still got it going around in my head. It’s very Sinatra-esque.

Dr. Lauren: I know what you mean.

Darren: The bit I can’t get out of my head is… [sings] They’re semi-aquatic, They’re hungry for you, Boys and girls stay away from the lake!

[Dr. Lauren is laughing at this point]

Darren: I like the fact they got “semi-aquatic” into a song.

Dr. Lauren: I must admit that we didn’t stay for the whole of the song because my husband chopped the end of his finger off and at that point I had other things on my mind.

[After Darren’s viewing of Zombeavers he had a WhatsApp chat with Lauren in which they talked about the accident which had befallen Lauren’s husband. This is why Darren doesn’t say “WHOA! WHAT?” next. He already knew about it. He isn’t a bastard. Well, not that much of one.]

Darren: Exactly, whereas I hung around to see where it was going.

Dr. Lauren: If I hadn’t have had to deal with blood squirting everywhere and then a trip to A+E then I probably would have noticed it a bit more.

Darren: Fair enough. It wouldn’t have been right if you’d said “Can you just hang on until I see the end of the credits before we go to A+E?”.

Dr. Lauren: No. He is fine, by the way. He didn’t bleed to death and he didn’t need stitches.

Darren: Which is a good thing. Equally, you couldn’t really have said “There’s only two minutes of credits to go so can you just carry on bleeding until I’ve got to the end of the movie”.

Dr. Lauren: He did bleed a lot.

Darren: There does seem to be…and again it knows where it’s pitching itself…there’s the most graituitous nudity in the first 20 minutes that I’ve seen in a while.

Dr. Lauren: Oh God, yeah.

Darren: It does seem to focus quite a lot on people getting their kit off, particularly in act one but throughout it.

Dr. Lauren: I wasn’t sure whether it was just to establish that one particular character is the slutty one.

Darren: It certainly does. Everything’s painted in quite broad strokes so we’ll point out she’s the slutty one by having her immediately disrobe. And the stupid guy is not just thick, he’s monumentally so.

Dr. Lauren: The only one who doesn’t seem like that is the one who’s Geeky Girl’s boyfriend. I’m only calling her Geeky Girl because she’s wearing glasses.

Darren: Mary.

Dr. Lauren: Yeah, Mary’s boyfriend. Was it Tommy?

Darren: Think so.

Dr. Lauren: He’s not an irredeemable arsehole but we don’t find out a lot about him.

Darren: In many ways, Tommy is the most disposable one of the group.

Dr. Lauren: He is. He’s handy with a baseball bat about midway through but that’s about it.

Darren: It knows where it’s pitching itself. It’s a spoof of this kind of nature horror movie. It works just fine on its own level. It’s probably not going to be particularly memorable but it has its moments.

Dr. Lauren: I’ve just remembered that when the girls first see the beaver dam that’s got all the toxic waste on it, they mistake the toxic waste for beaver piss.

Darren: I’m guessing they haven’t seen beaver piss before. Even so…

Dr. Lauren: I’ve never known any animals, wild or domesticated, that piss luminous green.

Darren: The colour of it, you’d be thinking that’s not urine. And if it was, that creature’s very unwell. There’s not one moment in this movie that’s the least bit believable. It’s absolutely ridiculous from start to finish.

Dr. Lauren: But in a good way.

Darren: Oh yes, in a good way. It’s intentionally ridiculous. It’s not something that even tries to introduce anything remotely serious. Even the end is throwaway.

Dr, Lauren: I thought that it was bookended quite nicely.

Darren: It was. It’s not a movie I’d immediately recommend to absolutely everyone I know but if someone told me they were thinking of watching it I would probably say “Yeah, stick it on, you’ll have a good time”.

Dr. Lauren: I did actually recommend it to my parents earlier.

Darren: Oh, right. Really? Well, you know your audience.

Dr. Lauren: I think that my dad will get a kick out of it. I’m not sure about my mum.

Darren: It’s perfectly okay. You know what I’m gonna say next…

Dr. Lauren: Go on.

Darren: It’s a lot better than Human Zoo.

Dr. Lauren: I think almost everything is better than Human Zoo. I say almost. Not quite everything.

Darren: Just waiting for that day when we get something that’s worse.

Dr. Lauren: Well, I’m toying with the idea of watching the 1996 Island Of Dr. Moreau film for reasons that I probably don’t want to go into here. I’m not sure Human Zoo is as bad as I remember that. But only just.

Darren: I guess The Island Of Dr. Moreau is also about mutations so if you’re going on a bit of a mutation kick…I was going to say you could do worse but I vaguely remember seeing it and I did not like it.

Dr. Lauren: I’m thinking about revisiting it because I saw it when I was 13 and I recently saw Lost Souls, the Richard Stanley documentary on it. The documentary was fucking excellent and I’m now intrigued as to what my 36 year old brain will think of it compared to my 13 year old brain.

Darren: I remember seeing the 1977 version of it and not being massively impressed with that but I thought it was a fucking masterpiece at the side of the remake.

Dr. Lauren: I would have liked to have seen Richard Stanley’s version of it but that obviously never came to pass.

Darren: I’m sure Richard Stanley’s version of it would have been pretty damn good but unfortunately that’s not what we got to see.

Dr. Lauren: Anyway, Zombeavers.

Darren: Oh yeah, Zombeavers! We digressed ever so slightly. It’s absolutely fine. Was it a 15? I thought it said the rating was 15 when it started.

Dr. Lauren: Yeah.

Darren: For a 15, it’s pretty gory.

Dr. Lauren: I thought that. The whole penis bit.

Darren: Oh, that was gross. There’s that kind of “serves him right” feeling about it but at the same time it’s pretty disgusting.

Dr. Lauren: It did make me laugh quite a lot.

Darren: I’m fine with seeing that punishment dished out to him as it was very poetic but also it looked kind of nasty as well.

Dr. Lauren: It’s not the worst penis severance you’ll see.

Darren: No, it’s not. That bit in the remake of I Spit On Your Grave is far worse than what’s in this.

Dr. Lauren: I always remember the one out of Cannibal Holocaust.

Darren: Yeah, that’s pretty bad. It’s not on that level. The gore here isn’t quite as extreme. It’s more the idea of it.

Dr. Lauren: Would you say that it’s mid-range penis severance?

Darren: It is mid-range penis severance. I’m trying to think of an example of low-level penis severance. If you’re going to cut somebody’s cock off in a movie then you probably aren’t going to say “Well, that was a fairly mild castration”.

Dr. Lauren: No. When I went to see Hard Candy at the cinema, that scene made my friend have a seizure.

Darren: What? Oh God.

Dr. Lauren: I didn’t see the end of that film for years because I had to run out of the cinema and get someone to come and attend to him.

Darren: The one in Hard Candy, that’s all completely implied but it’s really well done.

Dr. Lauren: My friend had a bit of a thing about surgery and it set him off.

Darren: That’s probably up at the top end just because of the way it’s filmed. even though you don’t really get to see anything. Also, if you’ve seen Night Of The Demon some bloke gets his todger ripped off by Bigfoot. So you’re right, this one is probably mid-range penis trauma.

Dr. Lauren: That’s good to know. We need to have a scale for this sort of thing.

Darren: If anyone’s wanger gets damage done to it from now on we’ll have to say whereabouts on the scale it is.

Dr. Lauren: So what would you give Zombeavers out of five?

Darren: I would give it a solid three.

Dr. Lauren: Yeah, I’d give it three as well. Decent enough film, doesn’t hang about, it’s fun. I’m not going to be rushing to get a Special Edition of it but it’s good enough.

Darren: I enjoyed it. It’s something you can put on, maybe have a couple of beers during it. It’s not especially taxing. It does what it does pretty well. If you happen to be a fan of gratuitous nudity there’s some of that. You kind of feel that the people who made it were sniggering behind the camera most of the time. It’s just so daft that it couldn’t possibly be genuinely offensive.

Dr. Lauren: In that respect, and with the gratuitous nudity, it’s in the same vein as Piranha 3DD.

Darren: It is. There isn’t as much of it as there was in Piranha 3DD. I remember seeing that at the cinema and sat there thinking how it managed to make violence and nudity quite boring.

Dr. Lauren: It was just wall to wall tits. Is that the one that’s got Kelly Brook in it?

Darren: That’s the first one. The second one’s got Hasselhoff in it, hasn’t it?

Dr. Lauren: Oh yeah, I might be thinking about the one with Kelly Brook in it.

Darren: If you think Piranha 3D’s got gratuitous nudity in it, watch 3DD because there’s so much of it. I got about 40 minutes into it at the cinema and sat there thinking “Can we have some story now please?”.

Dr. Lauren: I think I did see 3DD at the cinema. It’s probably so forgettable that I’m probably conflating it with Piranha 3D.

Darren: I do remember that the usher came in at the end and asked me if I enjoyed it and I was like “I’m so fed up of seeing tits”. This guy was probably thinking it was a good night out and he kind of looked at me in a slightly odd way. He probably went back and said “If that bloke’s just seen 70 minutes of tits what’s he complaining about?”. I was going to say I didn’t want to have them rubbed in my face for 70 minutes but that’s probably not the phrase I’m searching for.

Dr. Lauren: Would you say that it didn’t have a satisfactory tits to story ratio?

[Darren cracks up laughing]

Darren: Absolutely. I’m not being prudish and saying there should be no tits in a film but you’re right, give me some story as well. I’m fine with the tits but I need some plot.

Dr. Lauren: Plot with a side of tits rather than the other way round.

Darren: Exactly. So we’ve managed to cover other aquatic and mutation-related horror even though we were ostensibly talking about Zombeavers. I think our digressions are just as fun as the movie.

Dr. Lauren: Yeah. I think we can probably leave it there.

THE SCORES

Dr. Lauren: 3 / 5

Darren: 3 / 5

About celluloiddeej

Film fan, horror festival goer, karaoke enthusiast, cat whisperer, world traveller, complete idiot. Happy to chat with you on your podcast/whatever if you can stand the Yorkshire accent.

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