The Merits of Sin: The Fearleaders (1999) (USA)

Michigan has a lovely history with shot at home horror. The Demon Lover and Death Bed immediately come to mind when the horror output of The Wolverine State is mentioned. Two minor masterpieces of trash horror, Michigan also unleashed The Fearleaders upon us… I’ll try my hardest to forgive them.


Nelms Technology is paving the way for the future with Dr. Van Hess’ tireless work in creating Super Fertilizer. Sadly, it contains a mutant strain of DNA (sure. Why not?) which reanimates the dead. The Texan running the company doesn’t feel like wasting anymore money on lab research so he gives the go ahead to perform a minor test in a small backwater town. Obviously, the dead take very little time to get their asses rejuvenated.

They’re back and they’re hastily put together

A minivan full of cheerleaders (along with the school reporter and her photographer) make their way to the state finals. Their coach is a non entity and their driver is a horny creep in a bad wig. They all seem to hate each other and are constantly on the brink of fighting. An ill fated bathroom break leads to engine sabotage and an attempted kidnapping. This unfortunate happening is further shat upon when the undead attack. Luckily some Asian dude who survived the attack of a serial killer right before the zombies attacked bursts on the scene. Now, I know this may sound like I smashed my head against the coffee table after snorting some tainted cocaine but as most of these home grown SOV idiot fests go everything is thrown at the wall to see what sticks. The group of survivors flee and eventually make their way to a barn.

Head games

Surviving will not be easy because the zombies are amassing outside and one amongst the group is a psychopath on a trail of vengeance. Mannequin heads fly, cheap blood splats and green screen “special” effects really bring the movie together.


This love letter to Ed Wood has its charms but tries the patience. It’s basically the film version of being forced to take your younger sibling along when you go out with your friends. Abuse of copyrighted music (I highly doubt they cleared the rights to anything from Beastie Boys) and the world’s worst Criswell impersonator may hit the mark for lovers of trash but a wandering script and unlikable characters get on the nerves. Sarah Head Swain stands out as a blonde bad ass amongst the cheerleaders but every other girl is forgettable or flat out annoying. The script is full of inside jokes (that’s how these things go) and failed humor. There’s an unending dream sequence with more illegally (I assume) used music and a Goldberg shirt. So….yay? 5/10

SHS…a diamond in the rough

Toxic Filth Video has made this film available. Give it a go if you’re a fellow trashfiend.

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