While Fantastic Fest brings in some of the biggest and baddest genre films the world has to offer, it’s also well-known for giving a shot to the ultra small budget features. Two examples this year are Manborg by Steven Jon Kostanski and Invasion of Alien Bikini by Oh Young-doo. The former is like Robocop or The Terminator if those were made for Arnold’s lunch money and the main character was battling demons from Hell. Invasion of Alien Bikini is about a deadly alien trapped in a beautiful girl’s body who attempts to steal the sperm from a real-life superhero. Only at Fantastic Fest. Read more on each film after the jump.

At 60 minutes long and probably costing at least that number of dollars, Steven John Kostanski’s Manborg is kind of remarkable for its own unique reasons. In this world, the demons of Hell have taken over the Earth and one man is rebuilt as a cyborg to try and take them down. If the plot sounds kind of schlocky, that’s because it’s supposed to be. Even the look of the film goes along with that idea. But even if the surface of Manborg is unimpressive, it’s filled with enough passion and skill to overcome limitations. The makeup and prosthetics alone look like they’re from a movie with ten times the budget. The action scenes could never be in a movie this small – but they are. Even the acting, while campy, works in the context. Really that’s what Manborg is all about, context. In the context of a super low budget genre mashup, it’s fun. It’s not a great movie, but with a big budget, Kostanski and his crew could really make something special.

/Film Rating – 6 out of 10

Several hours removed from Invasion of Alien Bikini and I still don’t really know what to make of it. The basic gist is that an alien has traveled to Earth and needs to procreate so, through a few different events, chooses to do so with a loser who goes out at night as real-life superhero. And though the alien has taken over the body of a beautiful woman and the man ends up mistakenly seducing her through a long game of Jenga, he’s sworn a vow of celibacy. That leads to the woman torturing him for sex for a while. Then he beats her up a bit. Next some thugs come in and explain what’s going on. Then there’s a Rolex commercial cut in the middle followed by a confusing ancient proverb. And: roll credits. Somehow, it kind of works in an odd, we-made-this-film-for-$5000 way – and it looks slick for that amount of money – but ultimately, it’s just a big head-scratcher with plenty to show and nothing to say.

/Film Rating – 4.5 out of 10

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About the Author

Germain graduated NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Cinema Studies program in 2002 and won back to back First Place awards for film criticism from the New York State Associated Press in 2006 and 2007.

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