Kolobos (1999): Special Edition [Blu-Ray]

I know “Kolobos” mainly from late night cable where I was able to watch the final half of it back in 2000 was kind of blown away by it. Granted, this was before I’d seen a ton of movies and I was still young, but I remember loving it. Over the years it’s garnered a pretty loyal fan base and cult following, all of whom love it, warts and all. I mainly know it for being one of the last hurrahs of the video store age where low budget horror fare was reduced to straight to video on shelves, and not Saturday premieres on the Syfy channel.

Five college students accept a film crew’s offer of three months’ free room and board in exchange for having their waking hours filmed as part of an experimental video project. Aspiring actress Erica (Nichole Pelerine), Tom (Donny Terranova), Gary (John Fairlie), Tina (Promise Lamarco), and Kyra (Amy Weber) move into a fully furnished but remote home in the mountains, where the other housemates discover they’re being terrorized by a scarred man. Who is he, and what does he have to do with vague flashes involving a bandaged patient in a hospital?

Despite being genuinely flawed here and there, “Kolobos” gets a lot of points for being very much ahead of its time. Before “High Tension,” directors Daniel Liatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk delivered a blood soaked tale with an unreliable narrator. And before films like “My Little Eye,” the directors offered up a horror movie reliant on a kind of experiment that was kind of a reality show in the vein of “Big Brother” and “Survivor.” Around this time MTV was hitting the high notes with their staged “Real World,” so horror movies began tapping in to this concept to twist it, and “Kolobos” was one of the first. It also delved in to the psyche of our murderer allowing for a twist ending that comes crashing together much in the vein of “Session 9.”

In either case, “Kolobos” is so damn ahead of its time, even when its being painfully derivative. You can see where the film would lay the foundation for a lot of horror in the early to mid-aughts, while directors Daniel Liatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk take from a ton of their favorite horror movies. Both directors is obviously fans of Argento and Fulci, as “Kolobos” often feels a lot like a latter day installment from the aforementioned masters. Not to say that the movie is as technically advanced, but you can see the directors borrowing a lot from the artists. Everything from the setting, the murderer, the bold splashes of red, green, and orange, and finally the grotesque kills, it’s all so obviously influenced by Argento.

A scene in a bathroom is quite obviously a re-creation of the vicious murder from “Deep Red,” and the pair of directors does a solid job of paying homage. This more than compensates for the sub-par performances in the film, and it’s sad considering better, stronger turns might have allowed “Kolobos” to be a horror home run; the whole climax might also turn off the audience as it relies a lot on ambiguity. That said, as a bizarre love letter to Giallo with a ton of nods to classic horror, it’s a solid bit of genre fare, and one of the last go arounds for actual straight to video fodder.

The Collector’s Edition from Arrow Video comes with an insert booklet with full color stills. The Disc supplements include “Real World Massacre: The Making of Kolobos,” the twenty two minute segment featuring interviews with co-writers and co-directors Daniel Liatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk, along with co-writer and producer Nne Ebong. “Face to Faceless” is a nine minute interview with actor Ilia Volok, while “Slice and Dice: The Music of Kolobos” is a nice eight minute interview with composer William Kidd.

There’s a Behind the Scenes Image Gallery in 1080p, and “Superhelden” a ten minute Super 8 Short Film by “Kolobos” director Daniel Liatowitsch that he made at age 12. It includes an optional commentary by Liatowitsch. “Rediscovering Kolobos” is a five minute look at the UK theatrical exhibition from last year, with some odd film clips and whatnot. There’s the original trailer, and the 15th Anniversary Trailer. Finally there is an informative audio commentary with “Kolobos” directors Daniel Liatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk.