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Astron-6, makers of the cult hit FATHER’S
DAY, are back in theatres with MANBORG and their latest short film, BIO-COP (rolling out across Canada this month, details here). The
team’s SFX and stop-motion guru, Steven Kostanski, has taken to the directors’
chair to deliver their special brand of retro-pop homage; this time a payment
of respect to the video action cheesefests of the 80s and early 90s. Famous for
making FATHER’s DAY for a budget of only $10,000, MANBORG gets what it gives
out of only a thousand bucks and the pure love of the craft from Kostanski and
MANBORG tells us the story of a soldier in
the Hell Wars (Matthew Kennedy), some undetermined point in Earth’s history.
When his brother is killed in battle against the forces of Count Draculon (Adam
Brooks), he takes a stand against the monster and is cut down, only to be
revived as a super-powered cyborg on the streets of Mega-Death City. There, he
meets #1 Man, a kung fu fighting hero played by Ludwig Lee, but voice dubbed by
Kyle Hebert (the voice of Ryu in the most recent STREET FIGHTER video games).
From there, they join Aussie gunfighter
Justice (Conor Sweeney) and his sister Mina (Meredith Sweeney) in the fight to
first escape the clutches of the evil tyrant with a heart of gold, The Baron
(Jeremy Gillespie), and then topple Dracluon himself.
If it sounds silly, that’s because it is.
It’s also wickedly funny, with bizarre comedic moments popping out at you from
all sides. MANBORG plays it straight within the crazy direct-to-video universe
it inhabits and we get to reap the rewards. If you got excited when you saw
Christopher Lambert or Rutger Hauer on a video cover, MANBORG will push those
same buttons in you. Hard.
There is so much to love in MANBORG, so
many gifts to cult movie fans. That said, not everyone is charmed by the lo-fi
green screen antics. It’s important people understand
what they are going to see, namely a movie made for $1000 and shot mostly on a
green screen set built in Kostanski’s garage. If you can’t embrace the campy
good times then perhaps this isn’t your thing. For those of us who can, MANBORG
delivers better than anything we’ve seen to date.
Opening for MANBORG as it plays select
theatres in Canada is the new Astron-6 short BIO-COP, another dazzling basement
tribute to cult films of the 80s. The titular BIO-COP was a product of a toxic
waste accident, making him effectively indestructible and giving him grotesque
powers. I don’t want to give much away, but this faux-trailer gives us a pretty
fresh take on a familiar plot.
Expect a lot of awesome gore, some totally
hilarious moments and some amazing FX courtesy of Kostanski. Also present is
the Astron- 6 signature ability to masterfully recreate the era. They
consistently impress with their attention to detail, and leave us wondering if
they slave over the pot until it’s just right or if the aesthetics of these
movies are a second language to them.
This style of filmmaking is something that could only have come out of
the culture of the remix, taking the best bits from the video store classics
and firing them back with a modern eye. Like the DJ, they sample the hooks that
tug on that part of our brains that remembers these movies; the carefree nights
of the 1980s with some friends sleeping over and a pile of new rentals. The
result is the ultimate geeky mixed tape of a youth spent in the aisles of the
video store, seeking that next hit of cinematic dope that jacks up those nerdy
receptors in our brains.
If ROBOT JOX and I COME IN PEACE were the
drugs of choice to feed our need for cheese back then, the arrival of MANBORG
and BIO-COP is like Nuke hitting the streets in ROBOCOP 2. Your mind will get
blown if you just sit back and take the ride.
MANBORG and BIO-COP:
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