“The Alien Factor” (1977)
Starring: Don Leifert, Tom Griffith, Richard Dyszel, Mary Mertens, George Stover
Directed by: Don Dohler
Running Time: 80 min.
Synopsis: Three aliens invade a small northern town and the people there all band together to try and stop them.
This film is schlock at its finest. Shot on a shoe-string budget, this sci-fi/horror film directed by Baltimore native, Don Dohler (his very first film) may not be much, but it has a great cheesy charm to it. The plot is a run-of-the-mill story of aliens landing in a small town killing people and the mayor, sheriff, and some kind of scientist track them down. It starts off with the first kill that everyone thinks it’s from a wild animal, but as days go by and more people wind up dead, people start to wonder if it’s more than just an animal out there.
When a specialist of the paranormal, Zachary, arrives and alerts the town they maybe alien creatures lurking around, the mayor and him go looking in the forest and they happen to stumble across the alien ship and a dying alien. The alien sends a telepathic message to Zachary before it dies that they’re three aliens loose that were prisoners on the ship when in crashed landed on Earth. Zachary starts his search for the three and warns the townfolk to stay out of his way, of course they don’t listen.
This film kind of reminds me of some of my first films I shot. Not great, bad acting, but a lot of heart. Although the film has tons of bad camera angles, bad edits, actors that sound like they are reading off dumby cards, etc., the movie also has some great moments. The special effects are pretty good for it’s time. All of the aliens looked pretty cool and all of them looked different. One was a kind of a bug like alien, the other had long fury legs, and the last was made from clay animation and was very good. One other effect was done with a camera angle. They had a model spaceship on a platform in the foreground and had the actors walking in the snow in the back. On screen it looked like they were walking up to this huge spacecraft. Another good part of the film was the music, which was very creepy and captured the mood perfectly. Also the look of the film was old and gritty and had a home movie feel. The characters we’re okay, bad acting from all, but still remained likable throughout.
They were also the bad and funny moments of the movie. Moments when a rock band was playing in a bar and they were only two people listen to them. At times they would be snow on the ground then there wasn’t. Also the time where it’s daylight out then the next second it’s pitch dark. There’s one funny moment when a reporter and Dohler staple actor George Stover are in the woods looking for the aliens. Stover has a can of gasoline because he thinks it might be afraid of fire. When they come across it, instead of pouring it on him and lighting it on fire, he just drops it on the ground and runs away. Then there’s a group of guys that want to track down the aliens and one guy insist on bringing his girlfriend with him without any good reason and the rest of them keep wondering why she’s there. You have to see the scene, it’s also funny the way the guy says “Come on!”
The film is a very fun movie to watch and is trademark Dohler. The director continued to make cheap-o sci-fi/horror films for the rest of his career and he started with a bang. Worth watching if you’re into cheesy sci-fi monster flicks.