Astron-6 Movie Review
Written by Ilan Sheady
DVD released by Troma Entertainment
Written and directed by Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy, Jeremy Gillespie, Conor Sweeney and Steven Kostanski
2011, Region 0 (NTSC), 80 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on December 13th, 2011
First thing that I noticed when picking up this title was the fantastic cover art. It then drew my eyes to the logo for Troma Entertainment. These were the guys who brought you Class of Nuke’em High, The Toxic Avenger and Tromeo and Juliette. If any of those titles mean anything to you, then you know this DVD is going to be pure, messed-up independence.
Astron-6 is a 2-disc collection of short films and projects from the combined efforts of Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy, Jeremy Gillespie, Conor Sweeney, Steven Kostanski and more people than I can keep track of.
It appears each of these people were accidentally dropped in a vat of toxic waste whilst brandishing the ‘best’ VHS films from the 80s giving them a superhuman thirst for spoofing cult classics like Zombie Flesh Eaters 3 and Weekend at Bernie’s. To say these are a bunch of guys messing around in front of a camera is both unfair and untrue. Each project, whilst was obviously fun to make, was planned out with every resource that was available. Scripts were written, locations were scouted, permission was requested and sets needed lighting. Real attention was given to editing and post production. It was a real effort to get to this kind of standard on zero budget, the ‘real’ kind of zero budget, not Hollywood zero budget of about $2,000,000. I imagine if they had that kind of money their short nightmarish film Heart of Karl could easily become a full-length masterpiece, which is why I look forward to seeing their first feature film, Father’s Day, currently in production.
That said…unless you are a film student, amateur film maker or similar child of the '80s this is a difficult watch and shouldn’t be undertaken in one sitting. After a while the retro/spoof style of acting can get kind of tedious and whilst the purposefully bad dubbing of H.I.Z (erection der zombi) is really funny, it never really makes up for it over the course of the DVD. The effects can be quite poor, but no more so than the films they are parodying. It just lacks the genuine nostalgia of watching the real thing. In addition, it can often feel like a lot of things are ‘in-jokes’. Unless you KNOW what a David Lynch homage looks like, you’ll be a bit confused when you first see one.
What does help is the amount of special features that the DVD contains. Most of the 20+ short films include a commentary and it is through these that you get to see exactly how much fun and passion the cast have for making films. While they can be slightly immature, you can see why they are willing to dedicate themselves to these projects and you can’t help but wish that they asked you to play a part.
You can sit there and criticise the quality of camera, the choice of extras and tacky special effects, but here's the thing when you watch Astron 6: It watches you back. And then it asks you where YOUR 2-disc DVD is, where YOUR creatively minded friends are, why you talk about being able to do better, but there you are sitting on your sofa on a Saturday night, alone, watching it (or God forbid writing a review on it). You can criticise all you want, but inside your inner child that wanted to make these films is in a corner crying itself to sleep. Unless you’re Christopher Nolan, in which case Astron-6 passes you a business card.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded at this is a screener.