Manborg (2013)

Astron-6, the team behind Troma-released splatter festival Father’s Day, are back with a new feature and it is everything you hoped it would be and more.

From what I gather, Manborg was shot in a garage with a green screen and an ass-ton of ingenuity. Utilising the core members of the Astron-6 team, along with some other folks drafted in to make up the numbers, Steve Kostanski has crafted a wonderfully on-point love letter to the excesses of 80s sci-fi. Using Neil Marshall’s Doomsday approach, he picks and chooses his favourite moments from classic robo-actioners and skewers it with a brilliant off-kilter sense of humour. The casual viewers will recognise not-so-subtle riffs on the Star Wars franchise, Robocop, Universal Soldier, and The Terminator, while the more genre-savvy might see hints towards films like Riki-Oh, Cyborg and Shockwaves. There’s a heap of referential glee to be found in this flick, so I’m not going to spoil it here.

The plot follows a group of captives forced to band together with the aid of a cybernetically altered soldier built to fight an army of demons, lead by Count Draculon, that have escaped from Hell and wiped out most of the world’s population. Forced into gladiatorial battles by an emotionally awkward demonic gaoler known as The Baron, Manborg must learn how to use his new arsenal of built-in weaponry in order to rid the world of the scourge of Draculon and his minions. Writing that felt awesome.

Sure, the setting looks cheap, the robo-attachments are clearly bits of household junk painted and re-purposed, the CGI is equivalent to an N64 game, and bad dubbing fills this movie throughout, but does any of that matter? No, because the sheer amount of self-awareness possessed by the film and its makers means that you have no idea where the joke ends and the problems making a film for $1000 begin. Everything that Kostanski and company do appears so incredibly deliberate, meaning it is practically impossible to find any fault in this movie. This is the testament of the Manborg – There is nothing about it that doesn’t look like it isn’t crap on purpose.

If you have an aversion to trash cinema, you might want to keep on walking. However those of you who are like me and chomp greedily on Filipino or Turkish knock-offs and bad 80s sci-fi will find Manborg hilariously endearing. Or endearingly hilarious.

It’s just made with such an earnest sense of fun and affection for the genres and films that it so accurately spoofs, it’s incredibly difficult not to get entirely swallowed by the charm. At a very quick 60 minutes until the credits roll, it never outstays its welcome. Manborg is tightly constructed as it zips from one set piece to another with only moments to catch your breath in between. The Astron-6 team have done it again – someone powerful needs to take notice and start giving this group of genre-wizards the sort of budgets reserved for uninspired straight-to-video horror sequels.

Manborg is available on UK DVD through Rockstone Pictures from the 4th February.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

One Comment on “Manborg”

  1. Spence says:

    The fact that Jeremy Gillespie played the role of the Baron is missing from your article!

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