Phobe: The Xenophobic Experiments (DVD)

$250 doesn’t go as far as it used to.


A young woman from Niagara, Ontario has a dream. A dream of scifi movie-making excellence. A dream of making her name known in the circle of Canadian filmmakers. A dream that would cost only $250.

That woman was Erica Benedikty, an aspiring director who managed to squeeze in the time of making her very own full-length action scifi picture with her grueling hours as a part-time employee at a cable access station. Thanks to some dedicated friends who would work for free and unfettered access to video equipment she was able to pull offer her experiment for just north of two Benjamins.

And that’s how Phobe was born.

I’d like to say we’re all better for that as a species, but that’s overselling things a bit. Phobe is straight home-made video awfulness. Sure you’re grading on a curve because making the thing cost less than Schwinn and for all intents and purposes, the finished product is a bit grander than its micro-budget would indicate. But if we’re being honest with each other, this is a difficult movie to watch.

The derisive laughter you’ll have at its expense is almost reward enough, but the so-bad-it’s-good feel isn’t strong enough to carry Phobe to the end-zone.

But you will be laughing for a while in the beginning. The line readings are painful with actors often tripping over their words and plowing through regardless. As the intergalactic officer tasked with running around on Earth to track down the runaway “Phobe” (the result of alien experimentation). John Rubick cuts an impressive figure with his impossibly sculpted mullet and flimsy, pasted on sunglasses.

Add the low-octane effects (proto-lightsaber! cardboard box spaceship! alien clad in cargo netting!) and you’re looking at the textbook definition of do-it-yourself cinema.

Again, that earnest charm and inadvertent humor will only take you so far and after being forced to sit through the bizarre 10-minute sequence at the end where Rubick wanders around listlessly in a warehouse looking for his kidnapped girlfriend I was about ready to check out.

I suspect you will likely call it a day far sooner.

The DVD: VHS-quality full frame video, a 2.0 mix and a nice dose of bonus material including director’s commentary, Benedikty’s first feature film, Q&A with the cast and crew, outtakes, FX shots and a new making-of documentary.

There are Z-grade laughs to be had, but
not enough to keep you from nodding off. Guilty.


Tech Specs

Phobe: The Xenophobic Experiments (DVD)
2016, Intervision, 81 minutes, NR (1994)
VIDEO: Full Frame AUDIO:  Dolby Digital 2.0 (English) SUBTITLES: None
EXTRAS: Commentary, Bonus Film, Featurettes  ACCOMPLICES: IMDB


  • Cheap laughs
  • Cheap gaffes
  • Cheap-ass


  • Is this over yet?
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