The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got. And check out my book, Chad in Accounting, over on Amazon.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Zombeavers (2014)

This is a film that Jamie and I looked at on the pre-hiatus iteration of the podcast, back in July of 2015, and I had always intended to give it a proper review on the site as well, but... the hiatus happened, so the review didn't. Then I planned to do it last October along with a couple other horror movies for Halloween, but that's when life was threatening to derail the site and podcast again, and I was barely managing a once every other week pace, and those posts were for our DTVC Hall of Fame inductees. Anyway, I didn't want to wait for October again to review it, so I figured now was as good a time as any.

Zombeavers follows three college students who take a trip to one of their family cabins out in the woods for a weekend getaway. At the same time, the local beaver population has been contaminated by a chemical, turning them into--you guessed it--zombeavers. When the ladies' beaus make a surprise visit to crash their weekend away, it's not all fun and fornicatin', as these zombeavers have other plans for these kids. The question is, will any of them get out alive?


This movie was a fun time. I think what I enjoyed the most was that they played it straight. Had it been full of pratfalls and people doing goofy things, with characters who are in on the joke, it wouldn't have worked; but instead there was serious danger to be had at the hands of these frightening beavers. It's like they took all the standard horror movie devices, and then replaced the masked, relentless, ax-wielding killer or whatever with zombeavers, and said "there you go." The other thing this film has going for it is the 77-minute runtime--which is always a plus for me. All that being said, the filmmakers did commit one unforgivable offense, which I'll discuss later, and while it's not enough for me to dismiss this film entirely, it is unfortunately enough for me to say that this is a lot of fun, but not as fun as it could have been. Still, it's overall a solid horror comedy.

When I first started this site back in 2007, the idea was to spotlight all genres of DTV, including horror, but as the site developed, it was the action films more than any that got the most traction, and over time that continued to where I'm almost doing all action now. When I looked at the fact that this has 165 critic reviews on IMDb, despite only grossing 50 grand at the box office worldwide, I think I see why. Without me knowing it beforehand back then, the horror blogging community is a much more crowded ecosystem than the action movie one--especially when we're talking about DTV. If I review an action movie that only has 10-15 reviews--or in some cases, it's just 2 or 3--it's easier for someone who's curious about the movie to stumble upon my review from there. With 165, how many people will make it as far as the D's? Also, if you look at the actors, directors, and studios in the Hall of Fame, the bulk of them specialized in action, and Hall of Famers tend to steer my reviews. I guess all of this is a long way of saying I hope to get more horror on the site in the future.


You probably recognize Bill Burr there, but do you recognize the other guy? That's Mr. "Your Body is a Wonderland" himself, John Mayer. Unfortunately he doesn't give us any of that sweet 2000s era Mom Rock that he was known for. He's also the only Mom Rocker in the film, as I guess James Blunt, Daniel Powter, and Gavin DeGraw were all busy; but like Daniel Powter, Burr and Mayer "had a bad day" when they were delivering chemicals, as they hit a deer, which caused one keg of chemicals to hop off their truck and float down river, where it burst open, spraying chemicals all over the beavers and turning them into zombies. And like James Blunt, you can see from Mayer's face that they were... "flying high" (that's right, I went radio edit on you there). That could be a horror movie in and of itself, like a group of Mom Rockers are in a cabin in the woods, working on a collaboration album, when a late-fortysomething mom and her teen daughter, who are obsessive fans of theirs, track them to the cabin and go all Misery on them. Hit me up Hollywood, and I'll have a treatment for you by Monday.

Just because I'm saying this film was playing it straight, doesn't mean it wasn't double entendre city, especially considering our villains are beavers. But again, even if there were moments like that, the characters themselves were playing it straight, which I think is important. I've seen a lot of horror comedy that feels like it needs to tell us at every turn how smart it is; or is so afraid we're not going to get the joke that they can't not show us how in on it they are. This film trusted that we as the audience would get it. We have elements in the film, like sexual intrigue between the characters, that are elements we should be taking seriously, at the same time that these characters are fighting for their lives against zombeavers. If they weren't playing it straight, the characters would be exaggerated caricatures of themselves, waiting for their goofy deaths to happen, and for me that wouldn't have worked as well as it did with this approach.

Now, I'm saying all these good things, but there was an extreme area where I felt the film missed the mark: killing off the dog. I know, right? Major mistake. One of the male characters throws the dog into the water as bait to get the zombeavers to go in the other direction so he and his friends can escape, and the zombeavers devour the poor little guy. Even though that character gets his comeuppance later, killing a great guy like that fella above is unforgivable offense. If anything, he should be the lone survivor, and let all the humans die. And killing the human who killed the dog isn't enough to make up for it. When you consider that John Wick is based off a man going on a killing spree to avenge the death of his dog, and that film grossed tens of millions of dollars worldwide--while this only grossed 50 grand--you can see how a filmmaker can't just casually kill off a dog in a film and expect it to work. A filmmaker should understand the seriousness of it when they consider writing it into their film, and unless it's leading to the main character going on a 90-minute killing spree, it's probably best to not kill off the dog.

Animal lover me aside, I did enjoy this film overall. The fact that you can catch it on Tubi (as of this writing), and the fact that it's only 77 minutes, are two pluses that make this well worth it. Also, if you want to listen to the old podcast episode, that one is in our archives, episode 47.

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