16
Jul
20

Nightbeast (1982) White Trash vs. Predator (NSFW)

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“The most vicious creature to ever span the intergalactic void has come to pay it’s respects.” – Narrator, NIGHTBEAST trailer

a Primal Root written review

In 1987 John McTiernan unleashed Predator starring the, art the time, box office juggernauting mother fucker, Arnold Schwarzenegger and penned by snappy patter master Shane Black. As expected, the flick was a huge success, has a massive following of folks who adore it and spout “Sexual Tyrannosaurus” quotes to their significant others that are rolling their eyes and inspired countless cash-in clones the same way Alien, The Terminator, JAWS and Star Wars did in the year preceding it. Something hits big? Expect goofy, trashy, sometimes extraordinarily entertaining knock-offs. It’s a forgone conclusion. If a recipe works, other less talented chefs are going to try to copy it and either come out with a bowl of chicken soup or chicken shit.

But what if I were to tell you there’s a 1982 film that follows a similar premise? One that features a malevolent alien creature who shows up to lay waste to as many primitive human beings as possible as long as they’re alive? One that takes place in the small town of Perry Hall, Maryland and our murderous alien fiend must face off, not with specially trained mercenary badasses whose wise cracks work just as effectively as their automatic firepower spewing hellfire into the jungle, but backwoods rednecks with double barreled shot guns, pistols and no concept of self preservation?

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Enter the quirky, brutal, hilariously over the top independent killer alien rampage film NIGHTBEAST written and directed by independent no-budget horror/sci-fi filmmaker Don Dohler. Don began his film making career in 1978 with The Alien Factor, an imaginative, high concept film about several different species of aliens laying waste to a small town in Maryland and focuses on the local yokels fighting for their lives and trying to defend their little hamlet from the onslaught of vicious aliens. In 1982, Don would write and direct NIGHTBEAST, which would essentially be a retelling of The Alien Factor story reuniting most of the cast from that film, some even in the same roles,  but with a leaner, meaner script and some better effects.

I say things got better with NIGHTBEAST, and indeed, Dohler feels like a much more confident as a filmmaker when you;re watching it, but NIGHTBEAST still has the feel of a no budget movie shot in someone’s backyard, which is actually confirmed in the film’s commentary track, that Dohler shot many scenes in the woods of his own backyard. And in this passion and drive to get his film made no matter what, even if it isn’t up to the $30 million Hollywood standard, even if the effects aren’t seamless, even if the acting is below community theater level, that is where the charm and enjoyment of a film like NIGHTBEAST lies. Don Dohler began shooting movie on 8mm in his backyard when he was 12 years old and it was a calling he pursued his whole life and would bring his stories to life no matter what obstacles stood in his way. Don, along with his cast and crew, wanted to bring their idea to life, and nothing stopped them. They made it and that’s what fucking counts.

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NIGHTBEAST begins with our alien crash landing in the middle of the Maryland wilderness and comes out blasting laying waste to hunters, campers, Uncle Dave taking leak and any little brats that get in his way. The NIGHTBEAST is equipped with a ray gun that, like the Martians in MARS ATTACKS, will literally incinerate you. If one of those lasers comes in contact with your body, your whole body will light up like a Christmas tree as you scream in agony and then…nothing. No remains, nothing. Just a puff of smoke. This blaster can EVEN make ENTIRE saggy old station wagons vanish WITH passengers inside! However, it does nothing to tree trunks or stone walls people hide behind. Go fucking figure, I guess no weapon can be perfect.  However, that’s not all our alien creature is capable of! In the event of up close encounters it likes to just stick it’s meaty pudge paws directly into your gut or chest cavity and begin sliding out whatever it happens to find inside all over the front porch of your backwoods house as your booty call stands behind the screened in front door screaming in her Wal-Mart brand nightie. See, NIGHTBEAST actually devours human flesh to survive as well! So, he can’t blast all of us into the nothing, he actually has to give his trigger finger a rest from time to time in order to chow down on our tender vittles.

the nightbeast | Tumblr

The aforementioned NIGHTBEAST is a brown, fairly tall, hairless creature with two bugged out eyeballs that are very close together, and a gob chock full of snaggle toothed fangs! The monster has super creature strength, some big, bone crushing, flesh ripping hands with some razor sharp nasty nails on ’em and dressed in an early 70’s silver disco jumpsuit that, apparently, is some kind of “motorcycle range suit” that makes the NIGHTBEAST disarmingly adorable. It even looks like it’s smiling through the whole movie, which makes you wonder if slaughtering living creatures is a laugh riot wherever this thing comes from.

Nightbeast prowl

Well, it’s not long before the Sheriff Cinder (Tom Griffith from The Alien Factor), a man with a porn stache, a sizable salt and pepper perm, and the build of an overlong string bean must face off against the alien menace and sees first hand what sort of blood curdling terror has fallen from the stars to their little backwoods slice of filthy redneck heaven. He heads into battle with his gun toting best bud, Jamie Lambert (Jamie Zamarel from Grease, believe it or not) and the demure but deadly bleach blonde deputy Lisa Kent (Karin Kardian in her first and only role; a hairdresser by trade). The tree lay down a suppressing fire against the NIGHTBEAST, but to no avail, as their trucker hat and plaid posse of deep fried, backwoods locals are blasted into the void around them. And, man, that NIGHTBEAST brings the heat! He blasts at least five or six shots every second. Typically missing everything, even humans just standing still shooting at it. But, when you just spray lasers into the forest, you’re bound to connect with something sooner or later, and about a dozen men are imploded into stars and moonbeams.

nightbeast blast

The Sheriff retreats and decide to regroup and wait for daylight with one mission in mind, destroy that NIGHTBEAST’S ray run and then shoot it in the goddamn melon and put an end to it’s right of terror. They enlist a local marksman and his son to help in disarming the creature, which succeeds in destroying the ray gun…but NIGHTBEAST manages to elude death, and in the process, kills the old marksman’s son which leads to a moment of genuine grief as the old man sobs over the loss of his adult son who was blasted into smoke during the daylight battle. I’m not going to lie, watching this old timer cry over his dead son is actually pretty moving for such a low rent, poorly acted piece of Trash Cinema. It’s a well placed bit of real humanity which gives gravity to this batshit insane scenario and it’s, dare I say, poetic?

Nightbeast Cinder

Sheriff Cinder decides he has to evacuate the town and goes to Mayor Wicker (Richard E. Dyszel better known as horror host M.T. Graves) to ask for his permission to do so, setting up a very JAWS like conundrum, because Mayor Wicker is throwing a pool party for the visiting Governor filled with buxom bikini clad beauties and he will NOT close his town because of some alien invasion hoax. That’s right, despite nearly half the town’s NRA members being killed within the last six hours, the main labels this emergency fake news and goes about drinking straight bourbon, fondling his well endowed young lover, Mary Jane (Eleanor Herman) and planning his weird Girls Gone Wild party for the incoming governor. As Sheriff Cinder and Deputy Kent leave, Cinder says he’s going to evacuate the town anyway. Deputy Kent mentions how Mayor Wick isn’t going to like that, to which Cinder replies under his well manicured sexy stache and smoked aviator glasses, “Tough shit!” Something tells me the Mayor is going to be a bit to sloshed to actually care.

nightbeast mayor

If you assumed the only danger in this tiny hamlet with the recently arrived NIGHTBEAST, you would be wrong. DEAD wrong. In fact, there is a resident in town who rides a motorcycle, sports a bouffant hairstyle, a leather jacket, a really well maintained moustache and an irrepressible contempt for everything besides himself. This motherfucker’s name is Drago (Don Leifert from The Alien Factor) and it turns out Sheriff Cinder’s best bud, Jamie, has been banging Drago’s girlfriend, Suzie (Monica Neff) a raven haire beauty who happens to have an extensive beer bottle collection in her little wood paneled bungalow and projects a party girl vibe despite only having about 5 minutes of screen time, half of which she spends without clothes on. Jamie drops in on Suzie while she’s buck nekkid and recently smacked around by Drago and quickly tells her to pack up and evacuate with the the rest of the town, she agrees, and just as Jamie leaves Drago show back up and strangles Suzie to death in a fit of jealous rage and then goes on a bizarre murderous rapey rampage of his own based solely on jealous, lame, white boy rage which runs parallel with the more pure, homicidal carnage spread by the NIGHTBEAST! Drago is really every violent, loathsome, small minded white trash stereotype boiled down and concentrated into one repulsive character.

NIGHTBEAST Drago

Thankfully, we are told that the residents are all on their way out of town, as they are unable to actually show us this mass exodus, and the remaining team of concerned citizens, law enforcement, and medical specialists stick around to defend the town and come up with a plan to defeat the NIGHTBEAST before he depletes all the victims of Perry Hall, Maryland, and moves on to the next hunting ground. But also, a s you might expect, a romance (fuck session) must bloom between Sheriff Cinder and Deputy Kent. That’s right, after one battle with NIGHTBEAST Cinder suffers a severe injury injury to his trousers and Deputy Kent invites him over to HER place for some medical attention as well as some TLC. She yanks the sheriff’s britches off, patches him up, takes a couple longing glances at the bulge beneath his tighty whites, strips nekkid and they jump one another’s bones! It’s one of the most admirably awkward love scenes I’ve ever witnessed and I cannot count the ways I love it. These are two insanely average looking indevidual with bodies FAR from the societal “perfect” form we are peddled to try and strive towards. These are two normal people sharing a vulnerable, nekkid sexy moment together and we are lucky enough to witness this most original and unexpected of fuck scenes. I, for one, am all for this. All these toned bodies and six pack abs and even tans, Gang, it’s goddamn boring. Give me real EVERY goddamn day of the week. This is great, weird, trashy stuff. Because who can resist a little nookie in the middle of your small town’s genocide by alien? Especially after an injury to your upper thigh where, I assume, your Deputy will be grinding in just a moment or two which WILL NOT be comfortable.

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But, I digress, the town’s two medical examiners have an encounter with NIGHTBEAST and come to the conclusion and electricity is what it will take to kill the NIGHTBEAST after it steps in a puddle of water and a loose wire from the dryer in the basement shocks the shit out of it and sends NIGHTBEAST fleeing into the night. It is up to our ragtag group of heroes to stop banging and put together a plan for their final standoff with this most viscous of interstellar visitors.

nightbeast | Tumblr

NIGHTBEAST is a fucking delight and an absolute joy to watch. It’s film driven by it’s filmmaker’s joy in creating and that joy is contagious and radiates from the film, even several decades after the fact. It has that undeniable charm of a backyard movie which allows the audience to forgive and savor the shortcomings and actually look at them as strengths. You can tell there were lessons learned in the wake of Dohler’s 1978 debut film The Alien Factor. There are no long, tedious stretches of exposition and explanation. The story tellers realize the audience is smart enough to follow along and more time is given to alien action, character and the bizarre story beats that drive the action forward. The pacing is pretty goddamn good and keeps everything rocketing to a bloody, shocking, satisfying conclusion. Plus, all the characters are adorkably weird and rural which makes the whole film feel like Trailer Park Boys Meet The Predator but played totally straight.

Don Dohler would tragically succumb to cancer in 2006 and would leave this mortal plane with a catalog of uncompromising films based on his original stories and ideas. Not only that, but he had garnered a sizable cult following in the decades leading up to time. His name might not be a household term like Spielberg, but the man brought his frightening, imaginative, strange ideas to fruition and never gave up despite every hardship that came his way. If you ask me, that doesn’t just make Don Dohler a Trash Cinema Legend. That makes this man a hero.

I give NIGHTBEAST FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

This movie delivers on all fronts with Blood, Breasts and Beasts and manages to tell a great alien invasion horror story effectively with a minuscule budget. This is the stuff, Gang, and I highly recommend it.

TRIVIA:

NIGHTBEAST is filmmaker J.J. Abrams very first movie credit. He composed the score (as Jeffrey Abrams) along with Robert J. Walsh.

NIGHTBEAST is the film Red Miller (Nic Cage) and Mandy Blooom (Andrea Riseborough) watch in Panos Cosmatotos’ 2018 film Mandy.

 


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