by Anthony King
The word “charming” is an interesting one. If someone ever called me “charming” I would be flattered. On numerous occasions I've referred to people – usually men, for reasons unknown to me – as charming. “That Bob Mitchum sure is charming.” “Have you seen The Brood? Oliver Reed sure is charming in it. You know, in a forcing-a-woman-to-asexually-reproduce-monsters-in-gooey-sacs sort of way.” (Spoilers for The Brood.) Referring to someone as “charming”? Acceptable. Referring to someone's finished product after they toil away for months creating said product as “charming”? I'd venture a guess and say most creators would rather their art not be referred to as charming. Yet, here I am, writing about a “charming” movie made by a man whose entire filmography I would refer to as “charming.”
Thus, we get to Dohler's work of pure cinema, Nightbeast. A couple years ago I started working my way through Stephen Thrower's genre film bible, Nightmare U.S.A., in which I first read the name Don Dohler. So I sat down to experience (because that's what you do; you don't simply “watch” a Dohler film, you “experience it) The Alien Factor, Dohler's first of his seven-film run as a director. It wasn't great. I don't even think I'd call it good. But guess what? It was charming! And fun, and entertaining, and I never forgot it. How many movies can you say you never forgot? Not many. Jump a couple years forward, and here I was, watching another Dohler. This time it was Nightbeast, Dohler's attempt to remake his first film. He had a little more money and better equipment and, armed with a firmer grasp of the craft of directing, he set out to produce a better version of his inaugural film. And, I'm happy to report, he accomplished just that.
Compared to The Alien Factor, Nightbeast is like James Cameron's jump from Piranha II: The Spawning to The Terminator. (Note: Nightbeast is NOT The Terminator.) The actual alien in Nightbeast is leaps and bounds cooler looking than that of its predecessor. As opposed to the mop creatures with bike reflector eyes in the first iteration, this monster is more penile in nature. Picture a giant, mutated, brown penis with a toothy urethral orifice in serious need of dental work mixed with the It's Alive baby. The alien is armed with a laser gun reminiscent of the guns used in Forbidden Planet that vaporizes its intended mark but not before surrounding the victim in a glowing light that first sparkles, then burns red, then turns into a shiny kaleidoscopic image. It's how I'd want to go if given the choice.
I watched Nightbeast as part of my “Good Morning, Baltimore!” mini marathon that included The Passing, Multiple Maniacs, Dohler's Fiend, and a movie called Night of Horror that caused me to lose even more hair at a faster pace than I thought possible. I could easily write 2,500 words on Dohler and Nightbeast, but I care about Patrick and you, so I'm here to implore you, Movie Lover, to watch as much Don Dohler as humanly possible this Scary Movie Month.