Review: Astron-6 Collection (DVD)

Troma unleashes a bevy of short films from Canadian film collective Astron-6, a group of genre loving filmmakers dedicated to the arts of weird, rad and wild. Tune into my review and prepare yourself for hours of shotgun to the brain entertainment!

  • Director: Astron 6
  • Starring: Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney, Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
  • Year: 1980's aka 2011
  • Runtime: 300 Minutes
  • Company: Troma
  • Format: DVD
  • Discs: 2
  • Video: 1.33:1 - 4:3 - Full Frame
  • Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Region: 0 - NTSC
  • Released: 12/13/2011

In order to fully comprehend the mad genius behind Astron-6, you have to know the origins of the mad geniuses. "Five friends, a love of film and a suicide pact. In Tolkein lore, Astron-6 is the day of The Elvish New Year. And a new year is upon us indeed... From their first meeting at The Winnipeg Short Film Massacre, the five men instantly found themselves embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse. Rather than destroy eachother, the sworn enemies decided to unite - and then destroy themselves (once famous.) Astron-6 is the brainchild of these five iconoclastic, multi-media artists who share a fascination with the mechanics of fear and laughter. They subvert the expectations of the seasoned viewer with the nightmarish and absurd. Their imagery and recurring themes are often torn from the childhood of the irony-craving, internet savvy Generations X and Y. That is, they often lampoon genre films of the 1980s."
Still slightly confused? Prepare to visually acquaint yourself with film collective Astron-6 with this brand spankin' new DVD filled with dozens of the groups short films & other works. Clocking in at over 300+ minutes, there is a ton to digest here. Good news is just about every short included is an apocalypse of fun that will keep you entertained for hours, let's dive into this cesspool of nightmarish hilarity!
It'd be lucrative to detail every single film included so I'll simply highlight the best of the bunch and my favorites. First up is Cool Guys, Astron-6's homage to beach tits and ass flicks that flashed the 1980's. We follow three fuckups who hit the road to make a new name for themselves and become cool in the process. Think Weekend at Bernie's & Hardbodies mixed in with bizarro psychedelic humor then you get the idea. Without a doubt this is absolutely my favorite of Astron-6's. It genuinely looks and feels like an 80's film you'd stumble upon while surfing Skinemax late at night. To boot it's fucking hilarious from start to end, offering a myriad of gonzo non sequitur outlandishness while still retaining a central story. I wouldn't call this a spoof, that'd be a disservice. Cool Guys is truly an 80's goof comedy that happened to be made in the 2000's.
The remaining shorts delve more into horror/exploitation/sci-fi fare but still carry over the groups unmistakeable humor. H.I.Z (Erection Der Zombi) is a take on the italian zombie genre set in a camp involving a virus, dicks and horribly awesome dubbing. Punch Out is a coming of age love letter to John Hughes films concerning friendship, sex and a quench for getting your ass kicked. Lazer Ghosts 2: Return to Laser Cove is a lo-fi sci-fi sequel lampoon that has lazers, ghosts, scientists and genius one liners that gives many feature length films of the like a run for it's money.
That's only hitting the surface, there are a dozen more shorts included that delve into other genres. Want sword & sandal? Goreblade has you covered. Stop motion creature horror? Look no further than Insanophenia. Be sure to check out the sneak peaks for their upcoming feature films Father's Day & Manborg, they're radical incarnate. Not all are as amazingly memorable as the aforementioned titles but rest assured are worth your time. Sure they are seldom known of now but Astron-6's love for the genre coupled with an undying retro attitude makes them a force to be reckoned with and soon to be a household name. Mark my words. I urge you to purchase this packed set and support independent do-it-yourself filmmakers, you won't be disappointed.

  • Video
Quality is a mixed bag due to the low budget digital nature of the productions. Ratios range from fullscreen to widescreen with the majority of the shorts being the former. Many were simply just meant to be watched online. That doesn't deter from enjoying them in the slightest, if anything it adds to the overall feel and atmosphere which was surely intended. It just wouldn't be right to see these in crisp HD. Know this going in and you'll be able to embrace the lo-fi VHS-esque experience.
  • Audio
A DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is...just kidding, this is a gritty independent affair baby. A Dolby Digital 2.0 track is included and offers out what the source material allows. Simply put, you'll hear everything intended in good ol' stereo.

Bonus Features
  • Audio Commentary - Astron 6
    A bevy of commentaries are offered for the majority of films that feature the boys of Astron giving plenty of behind the scenes stories that are just as entertaining as the shorts. They're a rambunctious group and give each other plenty of shit like loving friends should. 
  • Behind The Scenes
    Also offered are quick looks at the making of select shorts that are definitely worth checking out to see on set antics.
  • Intro - Troma President Lloyd Kaufman
    Uncle Lloyd stops by for an obligatory intro that turns quite hilarious as he fucks up take after take due to his inability to pronounce Astron-6.
  • Photo Galleries
  • Trailers
  • Exclusive Preview - Father's Day
Included is an extended look at Astron's upcoming feature film soon to be distributed by Troma, Father's Day. Rape, guns, tits, dicks and eye patches are all you need to know. This should be Astron's big break and I hope they get it, I cannot wait for this film.
I truly meant it when I said there is a lot to digest in this set. Spread over 2 discs, it's slightly overwhelming but totally worth it. Show your support by buying this DVD from the provided link above (it supports Video Dungeon!) which is super cheap as it is once you factor in the wealth of content.