Shitty Movie Sundays: The Space-Fighter

There is some mythmaking surrounding today’s film, so a little internet detective work was called for.

The Space-Fighter, according to its credits, is a production of The Stryker Brothers, Michael and Matthew. They wrote, directed, produced, starred, and handled the digital effects. On the IMDb page for the film, though, the credited director is Matthew Arnashus, who also stars as Vic Rider. Vic’s brother in the film, Ken, is credited to Michael Jean. However, Vic and Ken are clearly twins. But, are they?

Some more digging in the tubes has turned up info that Matthew Arnashus is a freelance editor and voiceover actor working out of the Chicago area. He has a brother named Michael, but I couldn’t find out if they had the same birthdate, because I’m not going to pay some sketchy white pages site for that information.

The reason the birthdate for Michael is something I was poking around for is because of how this movie was shot. Vic and Ken are twins, but in many scenes the two share, it was shot as if a single actor was playing the two characters, with them rarely sharing the same shot, and the occasional use of a body double. Yet, in the first scene in which they appear, it looks very much like there wasn’t any trickery involved. It’s a mystery. Maybe there were scheduling conflicts keeping one or the other away from the set. Maybe they were just messing with poor viewers like me. Anyway…

The Space-Fighter is one of the more enjoyable ultra-low budget flicks I’ve seen in a while. It’s a successor to the age when a movie like this was shot on videotape. These days, one’s smartphone gives picture quality that yesterday’s folk filmmakers could only dream of.

Heavily influenced by Japanese TV and movies like Super Sentai (Power Rangers), The Space-Fighter follows Vic Rider and his brother, Ken, as they battle the evil Bio-Corp over possession of a new technology called ‘the unit.’

The unit is a belt that, when worn, and after speaking the secret codeword, transforms the wearer into a leather clad, helmeted superhero that can slice baddies in two with a laser sword. Vic is the lucky bro who gets to wear it, after it was given to him by its inventor, The Space-Fighter movie posterProfessor Tsurugi (Hubert Gao), as his dying declaration.

The remainder of this movie’s brisk 53-minute running time is a showcase of Vic and Ken’s fighting skills, as they battle an endless wave of low-level corporate thugs in ski masks, and the occasional monster that Vic slices in half. It all leads up to a final battle with a Bio-Corp Executive (Justin Frosch, and yes, his character does have that generic name), that plays out like a 2D platformer game from the 1980s or ’90s. It’s all very strange.

The effects work is about as low rent as it can get. Firearms in the movie are toy guns that shoot very slow lasers. When baddies are killed, they explode in cartoonish lightning bolts and flashes. The fight choreography has the same kind of molasses quality as the lasers, with nary a blow actually landing on an opponent. And then there’s the voiceover work. All of the dialogue has been re-recorded, and I suspect Matthew did it all himself, since he is the voiceover pro in the family.

A movie like this is a labor of love. The objective quality is about what one would expect from backyard cosplay. There is little that most movie fans would like. Then again, when has that ever been a concern at Shitty Movie Sundays? Don’t take that as a knock, Stryker bros. We like this kind of stuff.

Helped by its short running time and the sense that one isn’t supposed to take this flick too seriously, but hurt by profound amateurism, The Space-Fighter falls down into the lower reaches of the Watchability Index. It slots into the #437 spot, between The Giant Spider Invasion and Panic. Normally, I’d recommend staying away from movies this far down in the Index, unless one is really into bad movies. Yeah…there’s no other qualifier. This one is for the mutants.

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