Triskaidekafiles

Triskaidekafiles is a love letter to cheesy cinema from the 80s and 90s, with the occasional dip into other eras.  if you're a fan of MST3K, Elvira, Joe Bob Briggs, or just bad horror movies in general, Trisk is the place for you.

Phobe: The Xenophobic Experiments (1995)

PHOBE: THE XENOPHOBIC EXPERIMENTS

WRITER: Story & Screenplay by Erica Benedikty

DIRECTOR: Erica Benedikty

STARRING: John Rubick as Sgt. Gregory Dapp
    Tina Dumoulin as Jennifer
    Lyon Tenbroeck as Rob
    Merv Wrighton as Phobe

QUICK CUT: A new man comes to Toronto in search of an old associate, and along the way he makes some friends and finds some eggs.

THE MORGUE

    Dapp - A space cop hired to take out Phobes, sent to Earth to get the latest one.  He's driven by vengeance, and a mullet.  He's a very nice cop though, because Canadians...in...SPAAAAAAACE.

    Jennifer - The human girl he encounters along the way, and is the key to luring the Phobe.

    The Phobe - An alien experiment gone horribly wrong.

 Phobe the Phobic Phobes.  Phobe.

Phobe the Phobic Phobes.  Phobe.

THE GUTS: Hello once again, Triskelions!  After that rather dark and troubling adventure with The Baby, I felt like we needed to get back to something simpler and sillier, and oh, does Phobe: The Xenophobic Experiments fit that bill perfectly.  So strap yourselves in, put on your photographic negative sunglasses, and punch it for Earth to stop the Phobes.

We open up on an alien planet by way of the Stargate SG1 rule; every alien planet looks like a forest in Canada.  Because, well...it is.

Dapp and two of his friends are running through the forest playing paintball, when they encounter a Phobe.  The encounter does not go well, when the creature takes out those two associates before Dapp can stop it.

 I know if there is beer on the sun.

I know if there is beer on the sun.

Everything about this scene sets you up for what a ride you are in for.  Mullets, no budget scenery in the woods, Lazer Tag weapons repurposed (I shit you not) cheesy effects, and explosions that are constantly going off a little TOO close to people's heads.  It's *amazing*.

It then jumps to four months later, with Dapp bringing in some random perp for booking.  But that's just to establish he's still slogging through work, before cutting to his space home, which looks pretty much like your average bachelor apartment.

He gets a special call that another Phobe is on the loose, and he doesn't want to get involved after what happened last time.  This is the most heated argument Canadians are capable of.  Still, he knows he's the only one for the job, and if he doesn't stop the Phobe things will be worse for the galaxy. 

 Dapp's local movie theat...um, space precinct.

Dapp's local movie theat...um, space precinct.

So Space Rowsdower heads down to the space command to get his space orders...in space!  He gets the lowdown on the creature escaping, and how it has pulled a Jurassic Park and reactivated its reproductive features, which threatens to make more of them.  And since these things are so violent and dangerous, they must be stopped.

Oh, and with bonus difficulty level that they need it brought back alive so the scientists can figure out how it's breeding again, and they can disable that in the next software patch.

Dapp hurries off into his cheap CGI spaceship (But I have a rant there for later!) and flies off in pursuit of the Phobe.  Short story first, he ends up on Earth via a hyper travel wormhole faster than you can whisper "Sliiiiders".

 A motorcycle helmet.  And sunglasses.  To protect himself from the rigors of space.  BUT NO SPACE SUIT, only a tank top.

A motorcycle helmet.  And sunglasses.  To protect himself from the rigors of space.  BUT NO SPACE SUIT, only a tank top.

And his arrival on Earth is nothing short of spectacular.  The movie does a cheap horizontal split screen effect, cutting off at the peak of the roof of a house, and superimposing in the upper half Dapp's spacecraft nyooming overhead.  And it is so terribly obvious.  It's great.

The craft's arrival does not go unnoticed though, as two drunken Rowsdowers hear the whoosh overhead, and wander off into the woods to see what it was.  At least they didn't bring guns, which is how you know they're not Americans.

So Jerry and Tim wander around aimlessly until they find a not quite round thing in the forest.  Unlike Joe and JJ though, when they poke this one with a stick, it explodes in their face and vaporises Jerry.  The Phobe then arrives and chases Tim for a few seconds before shooting him right in the face part of his face.

 Hello there, Canadian mulleted Weird Al.

Hello there, Canadian mulleted Weird Al.

With the only Earthers we've met so far dead and deader, we get introduced to a few more characters, including Jennifer, as they wander around high school.

She goes wandering through the fields on her way home, and just so happens to kick over the one tiny blue rock that will be revealed to be a Phobe egg.  Dickens would be hard pressed to craft a coincidence this huge.

But since it is something neat and shiny, she pockets it, and the Phobe now has a new target.  Fortunately, Dapp shows up to save the day before she meets the same fate as Tim and Jerry.

 Taking the new space boyfriend home to meet mother.

Taking the new space boyfriend home to meet mother.

As they're walking along and moving the plot nowhere, she suddenly asks, "What's that?"  I DON'T KNOW, I JUST LANDED ON YOUR PLANET FIVE SECONDS AGO SUSAN.

Fortunately, it's one of the few things Dapp CAN identify and know words for, as it's a dead body of Tim.

So they head to her home, before Dapp runs out to continue hunting the creature.  As he leaves, he hands her a device to signal him if she sees the Phobe again.

 It will either alert him to come help, or unlock his spaceship doors.

It will either alert him to come help, or unlock his spaceship doors.

Night falls, and inevitably the girl gets spooked, so slams the Dapp button.  He instantly appears like he was summoned from a lamp.

There is more hilarious dialogue and acting, where Dapp finally calls the thing a Phobe in front of this girl, who keeps calling the thing a psycho, and she thinks that's just cop lingo for psycho.

Psycho?  They look like psychos?  Is that what they look like?  They were Phobes!  Psychos do not explode when laser blasts hit them, I don't give a fuck how crazy they are!  ...Actually, wait.  Wait, yes they do still explode.

Jennifer also mentions she found the Phobe egg, and we get a hand wavey explanation that it can only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom or something, or else it will make more Phobes.

 What the hell are you?

What the hell are you?

The Canadianamic Duo run away with the Phobe not far behind, and end up running through another school.  I'm pretty sure they run up the same flight of stairs two or three times, but shhhh.

Eventually they run out of places to run, and jump off the roof, miraculously not shattering every bone in their legs.  Dapp blows up the roof with another hilarious split screen and while the creature is down, it's not out.  So our heroes catch their breaths in a bar.

So of course she asks him if he'd like to dance.  NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR THIS, SUSAN.  And this is arguably where the plot just ups and dies for a bit.

 I have nothing witty to say.  Just...just look at this.  Look at it.

I have nothing witty to say.  Just...just look at this.  Look at it.

The Phobe fortunately shows up, all jealous that the girl he's after is dancing with another man, so he goes off to sulk and be alone.  Before he can shoot up the place, Dapp and Jennifer run away after a tense fraction of a moment with a drawn gun.   They hunker down in an army surplus store, and I'm sure that's where they bought Dapp's jacket for the movie

Dapp apparently got cut at some point, and is bleeding ink from a yellow highlighter.  So that's where it comes from!

This naturally leads to questions being asked about who that thing us, who Dapp is or WHAT he is...THIS IS NOT THE TIME SUSAN!

Dapp can't just call for help, he needs a radio, so Jennifer decides to take him to her friend Rob's place, because he's a nerd and just so happens to have one.  And he never goes out on Friday nights.  Wow.  Just...nice way to sling him under the bus.

They show up at Rob's house, and he asks why she didn't go to the party.  "It's too dangerous, we have to get rid of that thing first."  HE HAS NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOAT SUSAN.  She literally shows up and says this as he opens the door, he has NO clue.

While Dapp works on the radio, Jennifer insists he finally take them all down Exposition Road.  And he insists she call him Greg.  Greg the alien...

And let me just say, Rob and her take the news surprisingly well that he's not human.  Jen's a little gaspy about it, but Rob's just like, "Yeah, okay, sure."

Blah blah blah, there was war, Phobes were created to fight it, but they got out of control and were exiled and forgotten about.  Now they're somehow escaping their prison planet and popping up elsewhere.

Oh, and Dapp has yellow eyes because of some weird reaction with Earth's atmosphere, as they try to justify him wearing his sunglasses at night.

 Dude, time to get your liver checked.

Dude, time to get your liver checked.

So, now that GD has phoned home, the Phobe shows up to get this plot rolling again.  So our hero heads out into the halls of this office location to try and hunt the creature.

Oh, and Dapp whips out something that is TOTALLY NOT A LIGHTSABER.  He also pulls out a tracker that's in actuality a Lazer Tag target device.  I seriously shout "I HAVE THAT way too often at this movie.  I am in somewhat a state of awe that Dapp's gun isn't the classic Lazer Tag blaster.  But don't worry, the Phobe himself uses the Lazer Tag rifle wrapped in netting.

But while he's busy dicking around in the dark with his toys, the creature busts in back at the break room, grabs Jennifer, and beats up Rob.

Dapp blurts out, "remember that pendant I gave her, it's a tracer!"  ROB WASN'T IN THAT PART OF THE MOVIE SUSAN.

 Not surprisingly, on the hilt is engraved "Bad Ass Mother Fucker"

Not surprisingly, on the hilt is engraved "Bad Ass Mother Fucker"

Anyways, the movie sends Dapp off alone, wandering for far too long in silence staring at his Lazer Tag toy, until he tracks the Phobe to Hodsgon Steel.  And if a bad movie like this is gonna have a final showdown anywhere, it is well suited to be in a place with the same name as the father of MST3K, Joel Hodgson.

Finally, he finds the girl, and the creature pops up so they can have a fight with their lights...lazer swords.  But it lasts just long enough for them to get away, and it's time for more running!

Watch as Dapp takes Jennifer back through all the places we just saw him walking through, but in reverse!

 "Dapp, I am your father."  "Noooo, I'll never join you, you hoser!"

"Dapp, I am your father."  "Noooo, I'll never join you, you hoser!"

The lone saving grace of these running scenes is the music.  The music in this movie is spectacular.  It is over the top epic without being TOO much like "Van Helsing", and keeps me entertained when I'd otherwise be bored.

However, the Phobe has laid down a bad CGI forcefield on the ground, stopping their escape, so Jennifer uses some of the equipment to get a hook thing so they can use that to swing across the death glow.

Meanwhile, Dapp gets to fight the monster some more, and Jen clobbers it with the platform, buying them more time again.

 Wheeeeeee!

Wheeeeeee!

Dapp gets out of the building, and lays down a surplus Ghostbuster trap on the ground, and waits for the Phobe to come out and play.

And finally, after 68 minutes, we finally get to see the Phobe sans repainted Lazer Tag helmet and oh, it's just as wonderfully no budget as the rest of this movie.

I can't even begin to describe this thing, so let's just cut to a screengrab.

 I am not an animal!  I am a Phobe!

I am not an animal!  I am a Phobe!

So, Dapp captures the thing in the trap, and yay!  Movie's over!  Bad guy's captured!  Let's all go home and...what do you mean there's 12 mintues left?  Fffffff.

Just when you think it's safe to go back to your space sector, a model spacecraft carrying Dapp's commander and his evil boss ripping off the plot from Aliens arrives in a hilariously obvious forced perspective shot.

I give them credit for being consistent with having them all wearing sunglasses.  It's a nice bit of continuity I'd imagine many other movies at this level wouldn't have even bothered with.

 Hi, I'm Bob Evil.

Hi, I'm Bob Evil.

The bad guy pulls out a gun and shoots Dapp, but before the bad guy can claim victory and escape with the trap, Jennifer releases the Phobe to save the day.

Most insultingly, the main bad guy and Dapp's commander kill each other more or less accidentally.

But now again, Dapp and the Phobe come face to face aaaand...  "The craft is yours, take it."

 My pancreas!

My pancreas!

No.  Nope.  No.  I am going to have to call a flag on that play, movie.  You have spent the past 75 minutes telling us how dangerous these Phobes are.  How deadly.  How they breed like tribbles and even their eggs must be destroyed in a special way.

AND YOU ARE JUST GOING TO LET IT GO?

"I know you're like Space Hitler, but like...seeya dude!"  Politest ending to an alien invasion eve.  And it could only have come from Canada.

So Dapp decides to stay on Earth, because its the end of movie, and we never even dealt with the egg.  Um.  That's gonna hatch tomorrow, and isn't it still in Jennifer's room?  Sigh.  Wait up, Phobe!!

 I am so outta here.

I am so outta here.

AUTOPSY REPORT

Video: This movie was made to fill the hours on a Canadian cable channel in the 90s, and it looks like it.  It probably looks better than it should.  In fact, part of the reason it looks better is because for the DVD release last year, someone decided that the movie needed to have it's effects remastered, so instead of cheap models and state of the art no budget 90s effects, we get cheap CGI.  I've seen the reel for the old effects, and they really REALLY should have left them untouched.  Because the movie has even more cheesy charm with all its 90s ness intact.  it's still hilariously great with the cheesy CGI, but it does loose a little something.

Audio: Perfectly audible for what this is.

Sound Bite: "Nice to see you again, Seargant."  "Yeah, I'm sure you are."  Wait what??

Body Count: Not bad, all told.

1 - One of Dapp's fellow hunters gets shot by the Phobe 4:20 in.
2 - His other partner gets blowed up by a Phobe grenade not long after.
3 - Jerry also gets blowed up.
4 - Tim gets shot in the face shortly after.
5 - Random guard gets exploded by the Phobe
6 - Bob Evil gets blasted by Dapp's commander
7 - Who is then shot with Bob Evil's dying breath.

Best Corpse: Since we don't really see much in any of the deaths, the massive explosion of the easter egg that Tim and Jerry poke gives that the edge.

Blood Type - F: Pretty bloodless, and any effects that would give it more points are low grade.

Sex Appeal: Only if you dig Jennifer's 90s layered hair.

Drink Up! Every time Dapp says Phobe
If you're familiar with Lazer Tag, every time you see one of the toys.

Video Nasties: A taste of the acting and dialogue of this thing.

Movie Review: It is actually a well put together movie.  It has a plot, the motivations are clear, the story is solid enough, since it borrows from every classic eighties movie like Ghostbusters, Aliens, Star Wars...  It's everything else that's put on top of the bones that drags the quality down.  The acting is high school level, although Dapp is honestly not THAT bad, save for the occasional stumbling with lines.  But he has emotion, and delivery, and some presence.  It's not terrible, it's just very basic and clearly an early movie in someone's career.  Two out of five explosions.

Entertainment Value: I may savage this movie, but I absolutely love it.  It is bad in ALL the right ways.  This is a near perfect Trisk movie.  It's cheap, it's silly, but the people in it are just so earnest and having fun, it has great charm.  It's so mockable, but you are smiling and in on the joke the whole time.  This and Winterbeast are two of my most favourite finds last year.  If you are a fan of cheap "So bad it's good" movies, this is a MUST see, and I am sharing it with as many people as possible.  Five out of five Phobe eggs.