We have an admission to make.
If you haven’t figured it out, Paratus Business News is headquartered in south Louisiana. And for good reason, we’ve been very lax in our work this week. We’re at least 10 days behind on our review of the zombie comedy “Range 15.”
No, we didn’t flood, but we have been waste deep in collecting and distributing donations, and helping elderly flood victims gut their houses. For us, this is the third time we’ve undertaken this kind of effort since Hurricane Katrina, and the heartbreak wears on you physically and mentally.
But let’s not be fooled, Louisianans are not alone. No matter where Americans live, we enjoy the incredible abundance this nation offers, but we can never forget that there is always Mother Nature to contend with. Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, earthquakes, and disease are simply a never-ending part of life. The stress and tribulation is magnified, of course, when you add a voracious media that hypes the danger, pain and suffering to sell newspapers and advertising.
When the news of wildfires, floods, earthquakes, terrorism and political corruption pile on life’s daily struggles, a production like “Range 15” is the right movie at the right time. And let’s be honest, as far as this movie goes, it is low budget, sophomoric, politically incorrect, gross, gratuitously bloody, and very, very, freaking funny.
You may be wondering how a zombie comedy fits in to a Survival Industry trade publication. Well, as survival and self-reliance experts preach regularly, mental strength is as important as your preps and physical endurance. And being able to laugh during troubling times may be more powerful than any drug available. So, just go with it.
“Range 15” begins with our heroes waking up from a drunken bender only to find themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. That they’re excited about the sudden state of affairs is hardly a secret.
Nick Palmisciano, producer, actor and former infantry officer, sets the tone early when the gang realizes their predicament, “Boys, I think our wildest dreams just came true.”
When killing zombies presents our heroes with the greatest moments of their lives, you know you’re in for a treat.
Audiences will never watch “The Walking Dead” or some other zombie drama without thinking of “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, and smiling. It is one of the best scenes ever.
Getting laughs from violence and mayhem is not easy. Making a zombie comedy takes a special kind of skill, and a special sense of humor. Yet, these guys do it in a way that certainly will catch unsuspecting audiences off guard.
Unlike any other movie ever made, the humor conveyed in “Range 15” is beyond what many people today can comprehend as being funny without a trigger warning. But that’s OK. Because for the rest of us, “Range 15” doesn’t just challenge the normal, everyday pop narrative of our world, it takes the namby-pamby mindset of our politically correct culture mavens and influencers, and repeatedly kicks them in the nether regions.
That this film was written, produced, directed and starred veterans (the first of its kind) is noteworthy enough. That the humor illuminates a mindset shared by millions of American soldiers, sailors and airmen, and their friends and families, offers hope to the rest of us that there is an antidote to a world that seems poisoned by snowflake hipsters, the professionally offended, and college students that need safe spaces.
Flag burners, millennials, and Second Amendment haters earn especially gruesome and poetically just deaths. (If only Colin Kaepernick had spoken up earlier…)
It’s not just the unabashed politically incorrect brand of humor that is different. Despite mostly universal gags, many of the movie’s reference points may require audiences to perform a little research before watching it. For instance, the script may feel like it was written as a series of inside jokes told only for veterans. Our heroes stomp on stolen valor perpetrators, make fun of PT belts, and rip on challenge coins, among others. Also, if you don’t recognize people like Alek Skarlatos, you won’t understand a number of punch lines.
But while the movie will never be mistaken as serious, it does have a very important statement to make about veterans that has nothing to do with being PC.
Much has been said about pop culture’s willingness to turn everyone into some sort to victim, and this is especially true of our wounded warriors. So, the producers actually want to challenge people to see veterans in a different light.
Palmisciano spoke about the public’s perception to NPR, “The only touch points they have are the broken vet or the serious vet, and vets become unapproachable.”
The real-life attitudes of the vets don’t always fit the common narrative. And for many who are sick of the over-victimization of our war heroes, “Range 15” will be a life-affirming experience as the movie doesn’t treat any veteran, especially amputees, as sad casualties of war, but instead properly defines them as Spartans with a wicked sense of humor.
Of course, if you know anything about the movie’s central protagonist, former Army and CIA operator, Mat Best, and this motley crew, you know they operate every day with wounded veterans who don’t feel sorry for themselves, and who also don’t care what you think.
A perfect of example of this mind-blowing unwillingness to live life as a downtrodden victim comes from Sergeant Mary Dague, the former bomb technician who lost both arms in Iraq. Throughout “Range 15” this new star steals one scene after another, all while making jokes about herself. (This is no real surprise when you learn that the vanity plate on her car says, “Unarmed.”)
The famous and funny veterans are too many to name here, but a couple worth noting are amputees Leroy Petry (Medal of Honor winner with one hand) and Derek Weida (who lost a leg in combat). Dague, of course, will be the most famous at the end of this.
If after seeing this movie, you don’t develop a new appreciation and love of America’s military veterans, then it’s a “you” problem.
The Power of Veterans Supporting Veterans
How this movie got made is a testament to veterans and the entrepreneurial spirit.
As the on-screen leader of the ragtag group, Best is probably the most recognizable because of his prolific Facebook and YouTube videos promoting Article 15, his veteran-focused clothing line. With more than 120 million views, the success of the hilarious and off-color humor certainly signaled the potential success of a film.
Of course, Palmisciano (owner of Ranger Up patriotic clothing and gear) and the others are no slouches as military heroes and business owners. Without this veteran-owned business network, much of the movie’s financing might not have happened. Thus, product placement is rampant throughout the movie. Black Rifle Coffee Company, Federal Resources, Freedom Fudge, Kill Cliff, North American Rescue, PSD Rifleworks, Stealthgear USA, and Tactical Shit all make appearances. And we’ll be shopping with them soon.
Yet, making social media videos, and making a movie are two different worlds.
Ross Patterson is the one non-military executive on the film that had any Hollywood experience. He served as the director, a writer and producer, and one of the key characters in the movie. Needless to say, with 17 years experience and over 20 movies under his belt, he was often the “adult” on set to keep the team focused and grounded. Yet for Patterson, working with an inexperienced team of actors was refreshing.
“Everyone in Hollywood is so entitled for some reason and it sucks,” he told PBN in an interview. “They treat acting as if it’s delicate. Truth is, it’s not really about that. If you’re prepared, that’s 90 percent of the battle. These guys were prepared, and had no sense of entitlement. And they’re all pretty good actors. I didn’t have problems with any of them. They were easier to work with than Hollywood actors. They were always on time. They knew all their lines, they were polite. That’s the most you can ask for, and you usually don’t get that.”
Despite having no major studio backing, this gang of jokesters still managed to convince stars Sean Astin, Randy Couture, Keith David, William Shatner, and Danny Trejo to join the fun at no cost. Clearly, the movie’s military veteran theme was a draw.
“It’s insane what these guys have been able to do,” said Patterson.
The veteran network also helped when the team launched an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign. The goal was $325,000, but the result was $1.1 million raised in just a few days.
That said, the fact that “Range 15” is the year’s second highest grossing independent film illustrates how it touched, and hopefully inspired, so many people.
One final note. If the multi-layered, politically incorrect humor isn’t enough to inspire you to rent or purchase this movie, there is one aspect that ought to clinch it. Like their sense of humor, these men and women are over-the-top patriots.
The best reason to purchase “Range 15” is because these men and women who have seen the worst, and suffered the most, still carry their love for this country like a badge of honor.
Name one movie, ever, that ended with the cast singing “America the Beautiful.” You can’t…until now.
Watching this movie, viewers will certainly laugh hard while being slightly horrified, and yet, they will certainly forget about the news and their own troubles for a little while.
We know we did. And we’re proud to admit it.
Patriots, supporters of veteran’s causes and zombie fans in search of intoxicating laughter can purchase “Range 15” now at iTunes and Amazon.