After languishing in obscurity for more than 20 years, outsider sci-fi film and Canadian cult classic Phobe: The Xenophobic Experiments is making its way to home video, thanks to Severin films and its Intervision Picture Corp. label.
Shot on video in 1994, Phobe was directed by Erica Benedikty, a volunteer-turned-employee at Niagra, Ontario’s cable access station. “I got approved to do the movie, and then I got hired part-time as the master control operator,” Benedikty explained to The A.V. Club. “In my free time I was working on the movie. Making the movie led to [full-time] employment [at the station], but once the employment become full time, I stopped making the movie.”
The film itself a gloriously DIY riff on The Terminator and Predator, and showcases every bit of its $250 budget. With Phobe, Benedikty throws her hat in the ring as Canada’s answer to Don Dohler—the Baltimore filmmaker behind Nightbeast and The Alien Factor—and possibly wins the illustrious title. Phobe features computer generated images right out of Wing Commander, plenty of mullets, a pair of Brett “The Hitman” Hart sunglasses, a lightsaber duel, and an inventive villain consisting of a man in a ghilly suit, practical prosthetics, and a helmet from Lazer Tag. “It was a blast,” explains Benedikty. “It was something we were doing on weekends, and we worked on it over the course of a year. As we were shooting, I started putting scenes together, editing as we go.”
Featuring a cast of friends and amateur actors, the film made the rounds on the channel, appearing late at night or whenever the station needed to fill time. “It got quite a bit of airplay,” explained Benedikty. “After it aired a few times, it became filler. Whenever we needed to fill an hour and a half of air time, it was a good one to use.”
Phobe features Tina Dumolin as Jennifer, an Earth-bound high school student who stumbles upon what she thinks is just a strange rock but is actually an egg from outer space. John Rubick portrays Sgt. Gregory Dapp, a military man from another world tasked with hunting down a Xenophobic Experiment—a “Phobe”—that’s on the loose in Canada. While on Earth, the Phobe tears through small-town Ontario while Sgt. Dapp and Jennifer stop off for a drink and a dance.
Phobe: The Xenophobic Experiments will be unleashed on audiences in its first-ever home video release—packed with special features like audio commentary, a “making of” featurette from Rewind This!’s Josh Johnson, and Benedikty’s full-length precursor to Phobe, Back In Black—on September 27.