Ideal Budget: $500,000. Your Budget: $188.73. Creating Cult Classic Sci-Fi Movie Phobe? Priceless.
The 1994 sci-fi movie Phobe was released into the world via Canadian public broadcasting, which used the low-budget sci-fi nerdiness in between shows to fill empty time slots. Writer and director Erica Benedikty, from Niagara Falls, Canada, was in negotiations to shoot a 16mm feature film with an ideal budget of $500,000 when the deal fell through, leaving the cast and crew of this little sci-fi horror film that could with a budget of approximately $250 Canadian, or $189 in US dollars. And, thanks to EW, we’ve got the story behind this cult sci-fi classic.
According to Benedikty, “I rewrote the script with a budget of $250 taken into account. But that $250 doesn’t account for the equipment that was used. If we had to actually rent all this gear, it might have actually cost $5,000-$10,000.” She adds that different businesses were more than willing to help out, and donated everything from contract lenses to a crane for some of the shots. “The $250 was really just some plaster of Paris, and some paint, and a couple of pyro effects — things like that.”
It wasn’t until emails from fans started trickling in that Benedikty realized her film had a following, let alone fans in the first place. From dedicated film study groups to confused viewers wondering why there were aliens on the public broadcasting channel, Benedikty was ecstatic to realize her film’s reception was overall positive.
Screening at the Toronto International Film Festival?
So over 20 years later, when the Toronto Laserblast Film Society called Benedikty asking to premiere her movie at their inaugural WTF festival portion of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, she was thrilled. After touching up the movie, adding a few things and cleaning it up, she and Phobe flew to Toronto to experience what may be the best (or the worst) part of the film-making process: the audience’s reaction.
According to Benedikty, “Airing it in a theater was really a unique experience. On TV, you don’t get to see what the audience’s reaction is like, it just aired, and it went out into this void, and you never know what happened. But when you’re sitting there in a theater, you’re with an audience when they’re watching the movie, and they’re clapping, and they’re cheering, and laughing. It was like, ‘Wow!’ It’s amazing to see that people are enjoying it and being entertained. So, that was really awesome to be a part of.”
Severin Brings Cult Sci-Fi Movie Phobe to DVD
After Phobe’s cinematic revival at the film festival, the cult classic’s fan base exploded past the frozen mountain ranges of Canada and into the rest of the world. Due to that popularity, Severin Films, a horror / exploitation film production company (the “foremost studio dedicated to rescuing, restoring and releasing the most controversial and provocative features from around the world”) took a special interest in the ultra-low-budget film and decided to release it to the public on DVD.
Today, in fact, That’s right, you can enjoy it now. In addition to the fully remastered cult classic, the DVD release will come with outtakes, Q&A’s, a making-of featurette, and more.
Terminator + Predator + Lots of Mullets = Phobe
Phobe (or more accurately, Phobe: The Xenophobic Experiments) tells the story of an average high school girl, Jennifer (played by Tina Dumoulin), who picks up a strange looking rock, not knowing that it is, in fact, an alien egg with a detective hot on its trail. Sgt. Gregory Dapp, our mullet-sporting hero played by John Rubick, is an alien military officer hunting down the egg, and the alien monster experiment-gone-wrong that laid it. The dangerous alien monster, called a Phobe, is a result of a science project called the Xenophobic Experiment. And the phobe is now wreaking havoc throughout the previously peaceful Canadian countryside. If the Canadian public wasn’t xenophobic toward aliens, they sure are now after Phobe slashed a path through sleepy little Ontario.
Still not convinced? Take a look at the trailer for the cult sci-fi movie Phobe, complete with the epic Inception trailer music:
Oh, and if you’re curious what Benedikty is up to next, she recently shared that information in a Daily Grind House interview. According to Benedikty, “Now with the revival of Phobe it’s inspired me to work on new ideas and scripts, as I mentioned I wrote a 123-page sequel already and I’ve just started a different script. I’m hoping that I may trying working on another project soon as I’m having a lot of fun just writing scripts in my spare time. Who knows, maybe soon we will see Phobe II in theaters.”
Phobe II? In theaters? We can only hope.
Featured Image: Severin Films