If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to cross MTV’s seminal reality TV series The Real World with a trapped house horror film on an extremely low budget and a totally late '90s aesthetic then look no further than Kolobos. It is all those things and more. Now with an Arrow Video release, you can see it in all its restored glory with plenty of extras to fill you in on all the behind the scenes trivia.
Answering a classified ad, a group of attractive, young, obnoxious people show up at a house filled with video cameras to star in an experimental movie where they will be filmed 24/7 to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. Or something. Most likely, murdered in increasingly brutal ways. The group includes the bubbly, dumb blonde (Promise LaMarco); the goofy, annoying twit (Donny Terranova); a sensitive, pretentious intellectual (John Fairly), a b-movie horror actress (Nichole Pelerine), and the shy, possibly unstable Kyra (Amy Weber). It is the perfect recipe for a Real World or Big Brother type show. Except this one will end in lots of blood and gore. Which come to think of it, those reality shows would be a lot more interesting if they ended that way too.
The film takes far too long “developing” its characters. They play pool and talk. They eat and talk. They watch horror movies starring the actress character and talk. None of it is very interesting or actually serves to let us know anybody beyond how obnoxious they all are. The focus is on Kyra, who was picked up at a sort-of halfway house for mentally unstable people. How she was chosen and allowed to star in a reality show is beyond anyone with half a brain. Pretty quickly, she starts hallucinating weird, faceless people who whisper things like “Kolobos” to her at random times.
The first death comes in at around the half-hour mark. The excitable blonde gets it in the kitchen when two blades come out of…somewhere…ripping open her sweater, cutting her chest, and slicing open her belly, spilling out fake-looking guts. The practical effects are decent and it breaks up the monotony of trying to get to know the characters. This is quickly ruined in the next moment when we see the actual actresss (as opposed to the rubber effects shown in close up). Suddenly, her sweater isn’t ripped and her guts aren’t falling out. She is covered in blood, which is…something.
There are a few more traps including an acid shower, and an ankle clamp that will keep you limping for days in remembrance of it. There is enough violence and gore to keep fans happy, but little else. Soon enough, the traps are forgotten and a gruesome-looking dude in a mask starts slicing and dicing his way through the cast. The kills are sort-of interesting as are the uses of the corpses. It all amounts to nothing much. It was made by people who had just graduated film school and it shows. In an extra on of the Blu-ray, one of the creators notes that the idea came to him when he was watching The Real World, realized everyone on the show was really annoying, and started thinking of creative ways to murder them. That's a pretty fun concept, but apparently budget constraints and a lack of imagination caused the actual cinematic results to be less than exceptional.
Arrow Video presents Kolobos with a new 2K transfer from the original negative. It looks okay. It shows its low-budget origins with lots of grain and some bleached-out colors. I didn’t see any digital artifacts or other damage. Audio is workman like, with nothing special coming out to give your system a work out, but the dialogue is clear and the Goblinesque score comes in nicely. Extras are ample including interviews with the directors, the composer, and the actor who plays the monster. There’s also an audio commentary from the directors, trailers, behind-the-scenes image gallery, some snippets of a UK theatrical exhibition from 2018, and Superhelden, a short Super 8 film from director Daniel Liatowitsch.
Reading about this film online, it seems there is a certain level of nostalgia for Kolobos out there which I can only attribute to rose-colored memories and likely the ingestion of various substances while originally watching the film. Kolobos is a bad movie in every way, even by Arrow Video standards, which is a pretty low bar to begin with (not that Arrow Video itself is bad, they do fantastic work with pretty terrible movies). It has none of the dumb charms of something like Microwave Massacre (which has very few charms, but at least recognizes its ridiculousness) and all of terribleness.
All of which is to say if you are one of those folks who has a fondness for this film, then this Arrow Video release it's a great find. For the rest of us, might I recommend another recent Arrow release, Doom Asylum, instead?