Phobe: The Xenophobic Experiments (1994)


Thank goodness for Intervision. Specializing in off the wall and low budget films from around the globe they have unleashed not one but two fantastically terrible movies. Their first home run bad movie hit was Things. Phobe is their second. I hadn’t even heard of this slice of home grown Canadian Sci-fi silliness until they announced it’s release. It was a regional favorite in the 90’s and now finally it can reach a broader audience of bad movie loving fanatics.

Phobe, filmed in Niagra Ontario, is about a man, named Dapp, with a sweet flat top/mullet combo who knows how to rock a denim jacket/bazooka holder. He’s from a planet far far away. He’s a special forces type guy with the mission to hunt down Phobes. A Phobe is short for Xenophobe, as in the fear of anything alien. See these creatures were created in order to fight a war his people were having. The hope was that they Phobes, designed to fear and hate anything other than their own kind, would destroy the enemy. They did. But they also feared and hated the beings that created them. Oops. Now they go around laying Phobe eggs and spreading their spawn to other planets. One has escaped and gone to earth to kill everything and so Dapp is sent to catch the Phobe and bring it on home. Once on Earth he gets on the trail of the Phobe and meets high school cheerleader Jennifer who has stumbled across the Phobe. She has a hairdo that can only be described as a bird’s nest on her forehead. It’s pretty great. I remember the hairstyle well from my youth and it hasn’t improved with age. Together they spend much of the movie running from the Phobe who has a hard on for the pair. Why he doesn’t just kill everyone he sees, I don’t know. The Phobe is determined to destroy Dapp and his possibly under aged companion the pair must hatch a plan to stop the Phobe before he stops them. Permanently.

Phobe was made at a small cable T.V. station with a budget of $250. Director Erica Benedikty gathered her friends and co-workers and filmed the movie over the course of a year. The movie was aired on the cable station and used for filler and over the years became a local favorite. It was never released on video or dvd for that matter so this Intervision release marks the first time it’s been widely available. I’m glad for that because this movie is a blast to watch. It has a sweet metal/hard rock sound track, horrible fashion, mullets, mustaches, Canadianisms, locations clearly unchanged for the sake of the film, needless backstory, bad acting, bad sunglasses, lots of dangerous looking explosions, and light sabers. Oh and Dapp has glowing yellow eyes for no reason at all. The movie has one thing in particular though: heart. It’s easy to see that this was a passion project created by a group of individuals with little means but an audacious spirit. The heart of this film cannot be denied. It is because of this obvious passion that the movie and it’s characters are endearing and cheer worthy. This was not the product of a greedy producer hoping to cash in on ignorant video buyers. This film was made with no hope of ever turning a buck, the director gave it to the station to use at their discretion for free. She just wanted to make a movie and have people see it. I find that awesome and although this movie is bad movie heaven, it’s also earnest which just makes it all the more lovable.

One note about this particular presentation of the film, there has been some George Lucasing I’m afraid. I don’t know when, but at some point the movie was “updated” with better special effects. They look incongruous with the rest of the film and that knocks it down a few pegs for me. Thankfully the original effects shots are included as a bonus feature on the dvd and I really prefer those. Sure the new ones look more clean I suppose but the old ones show just how incredibly hard it would have been to create the effects in 1994 at a small cable station. I can’t even imagine the difficulty involved at that time. I think the old effects are a testament to the level of perseverance and ingenuity the filmmakers had. The new effects still look cheap but they also would be simple to do today. Back then it would have been a major task to create laser blasts and spaceships flying. That being said it’s still a fun ride that I suggest you take with your awful awesome buddies