When I saw the film Manborg from Astron-6 Video and Raven Banner Entertainment, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. It really is unlike anything I’ve seen in quite a while. The flick is described as “Half-man, half-cyborg: Manborg. Killed while battling the forces of hell, a supersoldier is brought back from the dead in order to fight an army of Nazi vampires and demons led by the nefarious Count Draculon. Cue kung-fu killing, stop-motion monster battles, hoverbikes, robots, demons and a character named Doctor Scorpius.”
How do you beat that? This movie has got everything! Recently I had the opportunity to interview the director and co-writer Steven Kostanski, check it out after the jump.
Glenn Walker: Steve, thank you for the opportunity to see MANBORG. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the do-it-yourself effects. What decisions went into why certain types of effects for certain sequences and characters in the film?
Steven Kostanski: I knew going in the movie was going to be a mish-mash of different kinds of effects. While writing the script I decided which creatures would be achieved through prosthetics and which would be stop motion, and I started building everything in that early stage. There were a few creatures that developed as we moved through production. Shadow-Mega’s creature form went back and forth between a full sized suit and a stop motion puppet for a very long time before I finally settled on animation. Some creatures, like the Champion that Manborg fights in the arena, are so outlandish that I could never achieve it practically and pretty much had to do stop-motion.
Glenn Walker: While much of MANBORG is your work, you didn’t do it alone – you have a major partner in this endeavor. How does the collaboration with Jeremy Gillespie work? How long have you known each other, and how did you start working together?
Steven Kostanski: Jeremy helped quite a bit on the movie. He wrote the “Baron in Love” sub-plot, which ended up being the heart of the movie. He also did the Manborg title card and a bit of the music. Everybody in Astron-6 contributed tremendously to their characters and that’s half the reason the movie is so much fun. The performances are above and beyond whatyou’d expect from a movie like this.
Glenn Walker: MANBORG was made on a notoriously low budget, yet looks professional and fantastic. How was this done?
Steven Kostanski: Ha! I don’t know if I’d say it looks “Fantastic” but thank you for saying so. It achieves my goal of looking like a 90s CD-ROM game.
Glenn Walker: There are so many influences and homages at work in this film, most obviously to the scifi of the 1980s. Please tell us what your inspirations are, both for this terrifically fun flick, and as a creator.
Steven Kostanski: Everybody in Astron-6 is influenced by the VHS era of the 80’s and 90’s. There’s many low-budget straight to vhs movies that I watched repeatedly as a kid that they’re permanently burned into my memory. For Manborg specifically I was influenced by such gems as Eliminators, Robot Jox, Guyver 2, “Captain Power,” Transformers The Movie (1986), I Come in Peace, The New Barbarians, Cyborg, Nemesis, Trancers, and Masters of the Universe to name a few.
Glenn Walker: The video game influence is quite apparent. Have you ever given thought to taking your talent in that direction? I know I would dig on a game that looked like this.
Steven Kostanski: I’d love to see a Megaman-style Manborg game made. Unfortunately it’s an expensive endeavor so I doubt that’ll happen anytime soon. Unless somebody reading this wants to pay for it?!?! It was worth a shot.
Glenn Walker: Why was Ludwig Lee’s performance as #1 Man dubbed with voice actor Kyle Herbert?
Steven Kostanski: I wanted #1 Man to seem like he was ripped out of an old kung-fu movie. It was always the plan to dub him.
Glenn Walker: I am sure there have been comparisons to Troma. Would you consider this a compliment or not, and why?
Steven Kostanski: I think Manborg is too innocent to be compared to Troma. I’d compare it more to a Full Moon, or Empire production. With the exception of the excessive violence, I’d say it’s a pretty kid friendly movie.
Glenn Walker: Tell me about BIOCOP.
Steven Kostanski: Bio-Cop is a short film/faux trailer that I shot last summer to tack on the end of Manborg. Because of Manborg’s short running time, I had to pad it out a bit in order to get it out on dvd. I added Bio-Cop to the end, similar to the way old VHS movies would have trailers after the credits.
Bio-Cop is about a melting mutant police officer who wants to die but is forced into various heroic situations. It’s like Maniac Cop 2 meets Lethal Weapon meets the Incredible Melting Man.
Glenn Walker: What can you tell me about your next project?
Steven Kostanski: Not allowed to say much, except that I’ve got a few things on the go. Keep your ears open for announcements in the near future!
Glenn Walker: Thank you, Steve, for your time and consideration. We’ll be looking forward to the next big thing from you and Astron-6.