A spaceship containing specimens for an intergalactic zoo crashes on Earth near a small back woods town. The specimens escape, and soon town folk are turning up mutilated. Very low budget feature was the first for Baltimore filmmaker Don Dohler.
Don Leifert ... Ben Zachary
Tom Griffith ... Sheriff Cinder
Richard Dyszel ... Mayor Wicker
Mary Mertens ... Edie Martin
Richard Geiwitz ... Pete
George Stover ... Steven Price
Eleanor Herman ... Mary Jane Carter
Anne Frith ... Dr. Ruth Sherman
Christopher Gummer ... Clay
Johnny Walker ... Rex
Don Dohler ... Ernie
Dave Ellis ... Richie
Dave Geatty ... Man in Bar
Marie Van Tassell ... Susan
Tony Malanowski ... Ed Miller
What can I say about this movie? PLENTY! I discovered it right where it belongs, on TV at 3 in the morning, and it snapped me to full consciousness. The aliens are unbelievable, the plot is okay, the acting is priceless and the ending even goes for poignancy. The plot? Oh yes there is one. A bunch of strange monsters show up out of nowhere and terrorize a mountain village. A stranger named Zachary discovers they came from a spaceship the crashed in the hills and nominates himself as a one man committee to round up and/or destroy the alien beasts.
Now you have to see these monsters to believe them. One is a humanoid insect. His costume was made by spray painting cardboard with enamel and it was destroyed when it got rained on! A furry monster looks like the sort of outfit Gene Simmons of KISS might wear to a Halloween party right down to the 24 inch platform boots. The last is the best, a stop motion animated something-or-other that is invisible for most of the movie but who finally materializes for the end. They forgot, or could not afford, to matte out the background so the thing is transparent for all its scenes. Is that all? Not nearly! How about live music from a musician called "Lon Talbot" and 2 go-go girls who dance like they are on Valium? How about an alien who wear blue jeans and looks like his skin is made of wicker? Jinkies this movie is an instant classic! I loved it! Don Dohler made other films but this one is the most fun. Can we take Edward D. Wood off that pedastal now and put Don Dohler in his place? His films deserve to be seen and talked about; especially this one.
The Alien Factor is a home brew that got some backing and has become a sort of minor cult classic. At this point I would like to say if you cannot overlook a movie of a lower budget for some of its shortcomings do not watch or rent The Alien Factor as on a big production level this movie blows. If you can overlook that however there is a few things of merit here...though little.
The story is about an alien ship that is on its way back to its home planet when it crashes with its cargo of exotic alien creatures. The creatures (3 in total not counting the alien pilot) get loose and start killing people in the local town. I will first say that this story idea is pretty interesting and with the right budget I feel this could be a cool sci-fi horror film however the movie is too ambitious with the budget and though the aliens look surprisingly decent for the restrictions that I'm sure they had, the overall product just sort of falls flat.
Though the aliens look OK we get a stop-motion monster that had a cool design but the fight sequence its involved in was not so cool. To explain it would be futile, you would have to see this to understand. Also the acting was so-so even for a low budget flick like this and locals of the Baltimore/DC area will notice old school Creature Feature and current web host flick host Gore De Vol (who now has his own website at http://www.countgore.com/) acting as a mayor in this film.
Of all the real problems I had the main problem and the reason I really cannot give this a decent review is....pacing. Man was it painful. There are 1 to 2 minute lulls of us watching a characters walk through the woods with nothing but synthesizer music going on. We await something to happen but in most cases it doesn't. It is these cases alone that hurt this film. I can look past mediocre effects, I can look past so-so acting as long as the story is interesting (which this movie had going for it somewhat) but when the pacing is off it can really mess up a movie and its flow.
In conclusion I did not hate this movie as the monsters on display were decent and the story was something that kept my interest but poor pacing and some ho hum sequences in this film bring it down in the end.
Score 4/10: Below Average, Check it out for the monsters and story just don't be surprised if you find yourself reaching for the fast forward button on your remote. Again not horrible just alittle bland.
Thats it for now folks. I leave you with this fun fact I learned from Alien Factor...Aliens love to wear Blue Jeans.
For a young Super-8 aficionado, growing up in the late 70's, Don Dohler was legend. Best known as the editor for Cinemagic magazine (and the Film Magic books), he would feature articles and how-to-do tips on everything from latex modeling to stop-motion to optical effects on the cheap. Of course, a big chunk of the contributions came from those who worked on his own features, including John Dods, John Costentinio, and Ernest Farino (who later did the stop-motion fx on THE TERMINATOR). And for anyone who read Film Magic, a big highlight was the design of the Zagatile beast that Constentino designed for use in Dohler's first feature THE ALIEN FACTOR. Constentino detailed the making of the beast, sort of an alien Bigfoot costume for a guy on stilts. Needless to say, the contributors on such articles always came across as real pros, making their work and effects sound really good in print.
Then, almost 26 years after having read Film Magic, I finally got around to seeing THE ALIEN FACTOR. Well, it sounded promising, but the reality is always different. What we essentially get to watch is a zero-budget 16mm effort featuring a group of Baltimore yokels up against two tacky man-in-suit aliens and one very well done stop-motion beast. Grainy photography, a grating electronic score, and actors with a penchant for delivering monotone speech dominate this film. Not the polished effort its makers claimed it to be, but still an interesting artifact from 70's drive-in flicks.
The plot briefly details the attempts of some local villagers to investigate a series of bizarre deaths, supposedly wild animal attacks. Turns out they are the work of three alien beings that have escaped from a downed extraterrestrial spacecraft. The Sheriff (Tom Griffith) remains baffled until the arrival of a mysterious stranger (Don Leifert), who possesses an uncanny ability to hunt down the trio of beasties.
Let us be fair to Dohler: with only local talent, limited crew, backyard locales, and miles away from Hollywood, they did the best they could. Plus, there are effective moments: the discovery of the spaceship (good use of foreground miniature); the Zagatile's attack in a man's darkened basement; and the final battle with the Lemoid, with excellent, if brief stop-motion animation from Farino. Unfortunately, Dohler's directorial abilities lagged far behind his unique talents in wrangling cheap fx. The performances are stiff, the overall pace drags, and the erratic music detracts rather than add. The effectiveness of the alien menace is hampered by either having them attack in broad daylight or showing them in full, essentially hokey Dr. Who monster outfits (the Zagatile in closeup looks okay, but in full, it just looks plain hokey as lumbers in the snow, chasing humans who are running three times faster).
With a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor, it could have been right up there with DARK STAR. Yet in spite of all its flaws, THE ALIEN FACTOR is infused with this weird low-budget horror sensibility that makes it all the more intriguing, if only for the fact that it ever got made at all. Clumsy as it is, it still entertains as a first effort. Regrettably, Dohler himself never went on to bigger and better things. He seems content to stay in Baltimore, working on zero-budget horror outings that haven't progressed (if anything regressed) beyond his opus. Considering the talent he helped to foster, it's a crying shame.
Of all the crappy sci-fi movies I've picked up and rented, this one stuck a little longer than the rest. It's pretty good for being a low budget film whose cast and crew were one and the same. It's pretty original, too. Kind of weird but it's worth a look.