“Nightbeast” (1982)


Studio: Amazing Film Productions
Starring: Tom Griffith, Jamie Zemarel, Karin Kardian, George Stover, Don Leifert
Directed by: Don Dohler
Rated: R
Running Time: 80 min.

Synopsis: A space alien comes to Earth and raises havoc in a small town.


Chris Woods

Another classic schlock film from one of the masters of schlock, the late great Don Dohler who brought us this 1982 sci-fi horror film, Nightbeast. This film is almost a retread of his first film The Alien Factor, which has the same basic plot, but Nightbeast contains violence, gore, and nudity where The Alien Factor was PG and contained none of those elements. Nightbeast is an all right movie, but it is not as good as Dohler’s first two films, which are The Alien Factor and Fiend.

The film is about an alien that arrives on Earth in a small town and starts raising havoc. The sheriff (Tom Griffith) and a few of the townsfolk try and stop the alien, but it takes out most of all the sheriff’s men. The sheriff tries to get everyone out of town while he and a few others stay there and fight the alien. They try to get help from the mayor (Richard Dyszel), but he ignores the sheriff’s warning and goes on with a party he had planned in which the governor was invited. The sheriff and the few remaining people try to find a way to defeat this Nightbeast.

Dohler’s first two films were very wholesome and PG rated and fit great into the post-Star Wars era of the late 70’s. As the 80’s were approaching, rated R horror films that featured blood and guts and T & A were now the craze and also the birth of home video, where anything goes almost. Dohler made his films more family friendly due to the fact that after a short and limited theatrical run it would go straight to regular television and it was an easy sell since nothing had to be censored. Now with home video being the big money maker for filmmakers, R rated material was not an issue and TV became a second thought.

Dohler was advised by Troma leader himself, Lloyd Kaufman to put more blood, more gore, sex and nudity in his films and he would have no problem selling the movie to a distributor. That is what he did with his third film, Nightbeast, which was his first rated R movie. The film does have some cool effects, as his early two films did, for the budget he had. Nightbeast would feature a lot of arms getting ripped off, guts pouring out of stomachs, and heads getting torn off with ease. Although this film had more elements that appealed to a major audience, it was not as good as his earlier two films.

The beginning of the film started off well with a great battle between the alien and the people of the town. The film has this great charm to it like Dohler’s earlier efforts and some good cheese factor. As the story goes on it tends to drag and is less exciting. The cast is filled with Dohler regulars like Griffith, Dyszel, Don Leifert, George Stover, and Anne Frith. Most of all of these actors appeared in The Alien Factor and Fiend and Stover has been in every Dohler picture. The cast may not be that good with their acting chops, but they do pull off their characters well and are very likeable. The music to the film is a stand out, some of which was actually written by J.J. Abrams, creator of TV’s Lost and director of 2009’s Star Trek.

Don Dohler would do a few more films after Nightbeast, and then retire for almost a decade, but would return in the late 90’s. His later films didn’t really have the same charm as his earlier ones. Most of the ones made in the 2000’s were shot on video and had a cheap look to them. Even though his films were always on a shoestring budget, at least when he shot on film they looked more professional. Also, Dohler would have his friend and actor, Joe Ripple take over directing duties on his later films, while Don just produce, write, edit, and be the director of photography. Dohler passed away in 2006 after the completion of his last film Dead Hunt.

If you are a Don Dohler fan you will enjoy this film. Like I mentioned before, it is not as good as The Alien Factor and Fiend, but it still has that same Dohler style that those films have. If you have not seen it, it is worth a look at least once. Troma, the same company that told Dohler to add sex and violence to his films, released the film on DVD. It also included as an extra DVD on the Don Dohler documentary, Blood, Boobs, & Beast also released by Troma.