Sunday, March 17, 2019

KOLOBOS (1999) Blu-ray review

Kolobos (1999) d. Daniel Liatowitsch / David Todd Ocvirk (USA) (87 min)

An advertisement seeking individuals to participate in an “groundbreaking experimental film project,” one that involves living in a secluded mountain lodge together under constant observation via omnipresent videocameras, attracts a quintet of varied and attractive participants: troubled artist Kyra (Amy Weber), unfunny comic Tom (Donny Terranova), aspiring actress Erica (Nichole Pelerine), clean-cut college co-ed Gary (John Fairlie), and extroverted fast food worker Tina (Promise LaMarco). With their social dynamics primed to be exploited, things take a nasty turn when all the exits and escapes are sealed and an array of mechanical boobytraps make their lethal presence known. To make matters worse, a self-torturing sadist (Ilia Volok) dubbed “Faceless” has incorporated himself into the mix, seeking to hasten their collective demise.

It may come as a shock to younger viewers, but there was a time when the concept of “reality television” was a far-fetched and daring notion. Inspired by MTV’s The Real World, which stuck a group of diverse, primed-for-drama kids in the same living quarters for weeks at a time and invited viewers to watch the fireworks fly, directors Liatowitsch and Ocvirk (who wrote the script with producer Nne Ebong) concocted a plot that allowed for a relatively novel spin on the Scream-inspired slasher tropes of the late 1990s. I don’t know that we can give them credit for having inspired the “reality TV/snuff horror genre” that exists today, but what is undeniable is that it beat the (deservedly) more acclaimed My Little Eye (2002) to the punch by three years.

The team also provided ample nods to existing genre efforts, with composer William Kidd’s shameless riff on Goblin’s iconic main Suspiria theme along with dramatic colored lighting schemes and a wince-worthy “teeth-meet-table-corner” tribute to Deep Red. In fact, most of the gore sequences are impressively nasty, with an acid-bath shower sequence and a Zombie-esque eye-skewering by way of Silent Night Deadly Nights antlers! (Although one has to wonder how many of the money shots ended up in the original release since they are all easily trimmed inserts.)

After shooting in Los Angeles and Omaha, NE, the creative team discovered that their original cut of the film lasted a little more than an hour and had to construct a framing story of a bandaged survivor convalescing in a hospital bed (featuring scream queen Linnea Quigley as an obnoxious roommate) to pad out the running time. While fairly obvious, it’s far from offensive.

If you’re wondering, “Hey, how come I never heard of this flick before?”, the blame can be laid firmly at the feet of the less-than-memorable marketing campaign (based on the VHS box cover, I always thought it was some kind of chick-turns-into snake flick) and the teeth-grating performances from all involved. Some viewers may recognize Weber from her stint as a WWE Raw diva (2004-2005) and from the Asylum mockbuster Transmorphers (2007), but she’s the gold medalist in this dodgy thesping Olympiad. Even so, being more forgiving than most, there’s a good chance that since slasher fans will find Kolobos to be a surprisingly enjoyable discovery.


Brand new 2K restoration from the original negative

Original Stereo and 5.1 audio options

NEW audio commentary with writers and directors Daniel Liatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk

NEW "Real World Massacre: The Making of Kolobos" - Interviews with Daniel Liatowitsch, David Todd Ocvirk, and co-writer/producer Nne Ebong (22 min)

NEW "Face to Faceless" - Interview with actor Ilia Volok (10 min)

NEW "Slice & Dice: The Music of Kolobos" - Interview with composer William Kidd (9 min)

Behind-the-Scenes Image Gallery

“Superhelden” short film by Daniel Liatowitsch with optional commentary (10 min)

NEW "Rediscovering Kolobos" (first ever UK theatrical screening at Tramshed Cinema, October 2018, Cardiff, England) (6 min)

Original Trailer

15th anniversary trailer

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully illustrated collector’s booklet with new writing on the film by Phillip Escott

NOTE: MVD’s website lists the running time as 82 min, as opposed to the actual running time of 87 min.

Kolobos is available now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video and can be ordered HERE:


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