Thursday, March 26, 2015

Nightbeast (Don Dohler, 1982)

Who is this "Nightbeast"? Where did he come from? And, most importantly, what does he want? These and countless other questions are never answered, nor are they asked in Nightbeast, the Don Dohler movie about a toothy space alien who is forced to tear humans apart with his bare hands after an elderly gentlemen destroys his ray-gun with an Earth bullet fired from an Earth rifle (it would seem that while the "Nightbeast" himself is impervious to Earth bullets, his ray-gun is not). Actually, now that I think about it, the question, "Who is 'Nightbeast'"? is asked plenty of times throughout this film, which, up until about five seconds ago, I was ready to dismiss as a non-thought provoking enterprise. You see, while the man-masticating miscreant from who knows where is an obvious candidate for Nightbeast-hood, Drago, the town's biggest lowlife, is quite the "Nightbeast" in Nightbeast as well. A sort of variant of the feminine, "hosebeast," the "Nightbeast" typically has no use for the rules that dictate common decency. And judging by the way Drago roughs up his Asian ex-girlfriend, I would classify Drago as your classic "Nightbeast."

So, to answer my own question, "Who is 'Nightbeast'"? It's tough to say, as many beastly acts are carried out at night in this film, by numerous individuals, I might add. Oh, and when I say, "by  numerous individuals," I mean two. Nevertheless, it's one more "Nightbeast" than I initially thought there were.

While most people will probably be wondering how our curly-haired skinny-fat hero and his blonde boyishly hipped sidekick will stop the alien version of the "Nightbeast," I couldn't help but wonder what the Earth version of "Nightbeast" was getting up to.

You could say the mayor of this ingrown armpit hair of a town is a bit of a "Nightbeast" in his own right. However, he doesn't disembowel anyone, nor does he manhandle any of the town's tan-line adorned Asian chicks. That's true, he doesn't do any of those things, but he does risk the lives of an entire pool party for political gain.

(Did someone say pool party?)

I had a feeling that might get your attention. And get this, it's an early 1980s party. Meaning, no smartphones, no tramp stamps, and definitely no post-millennial apathy.

Oh, how I wish I could have attended the pool party that takes place smack-dab in the middle of Nightbeast... or, at the very least, watched it through a pair of binoculars.

Ain't no party, like a Nightbeast pool party! Can I get a hey? No? How 'bout a ho? No ho either, eh? Well, you're no fun.

Let's quickly go over my "Nightbeast notes" and see if there's anything besides the mayor's ill-advised pool party that makes this film stand out from the sci-fi horror pack.

Okay, I found something. The laser sound effects, while cool the first few times we hear them. But I have to say, they did start to get on my nerves after awhile. As for the drone-heavy score by a sixteen year-old J.J. Abrams. It's all right; there were some nice synthesizer flourishes here and there.

Since every sci-fi film has them, it made sense for there to be a bunch of flannel shirt-wearing, beer-drinking rednecks with shotguns onscreen at one point (the "Nightbeast" has to zap something with his ray-gun). The only problem being, one of these flannel-wearing, beer-drinking rednecks appears during the epic showdown at the end of the film. Why is that a problem, you ask? I don't know, he kind of just shows up without explanation.

Battling the creature from start to finish, Sheriff Jack Cinder (Tom Griffith), Deputy Lisa (Karin Kardian), Jamie (Jamie Zemarel), Dr. Price (George "I don't want no white man looking at my Tampex" Stover) and Dr. Sherman (Anna Frith) put in a lot of effort to fight the "Nightbeast." Working as a team, these folks slowly become experts when it comes to fighting the "Nightbeast." That's why it annoyed me when this Johnny-come-lately suddenly joins the fray.

Who are you? I didn't see you during the initial shoot out between the "Nightbeast" and every able-bodied flannel shirt-wearing, beer-drinking redneck the town had to offer, and I definitely didn't see you at the mayor's pool party (which had a strict no flannel, no beer, no redneck policy). So, I'll ask again, who are you?

In the end, it doesn't really matter, as I got to see Eleanor Herman in a blue one-piece bathing suit for an extended period of time. She plays Mary Jane, Mayor Bert "Don't Call Me Berty" Wicker's sexy secretary. And, yeah, she's great. In fact, she's the second best actor in the entire movie; the best being, of course, Don Leifert, who plays Drago, the real "Nightbeast."

In terms of dialogue, my favourite line has to be the one where a black redneck says, "Don't argue with Crebs, Doc." I know, it doesn't look like much on paper, but the fact that it's uttered by a black redneck and the fact that it sounds like he's saying, "Crabs" makes this particular line the gem that it is. And, yes, there's such a thing as a black redneck. Let me put it this way, if you're a black man and you wear a trucker cap without a hint of irony, you might be a black redneck.

While the film is no Night of the Creeps (hell, it's not even The Deadly Spawn), Nightbeast has its charms. As to what those charms are exactly, I have no idea. Actually, the title of the documentary about the career of Don Dohler sums up these charms quite well: Blood, Boobs and Beast. Check out if you get the chance, it's a pretty good doc.


  1. Thank you, Yum-Yum. I need to see this. Right up my filthy, broken-bottle-filled alley.