Friday, June 19, 2009

In short: Nightbeast (1982)

When a drunk (or so I suppose) alien's UFO hits a meteorite, it crashes down in the woods of Maryland, as we know an area all too often plagued by alien invaders. The beastie doesn't want to stay in the shadow of the heroes of The Alien Factor and starts to kill the rural population left and right with its raygun, often vaporizing its victims in a shower of glitter. Well, what would you expect from a creature dressed in a silvery outfit that late period Elvis would have called tasteless?

But even after the intrepid defenders of Maryland under awesome white guy afro owner Sheriff Cinder (Tom Griffith) and bra-hating lady deputy (not my phrase) Lisa (Karin Kardian) manage to disarm the rude visitor, it still insists on killing, if now somewhat more gorily.

Besides a rampaging alien, the poor Sheriff also has to cope with Bertie-the-alcoholic-mayor's (yes, I'm pretty sure that's his name, and he's played by Richard Dyszel) unwillingness to ask for outside help or cancel the party for the state governor he is holding during the alien attack and the lone evil biker (Don Leifert) of the area. It's enough to make one want to have a romantic sub-plot with one's (still bra-less) deputy.

Not much new in Don Dohler's Baltimore here, although our dear old-fashioned director was aiming for a little more of that timely (alas, as of 1970) exploitation feeling. This means the addition of a certain amount of rubbery gore Herschell Gordon Lewis would probably have derided as too crudely done and even (gasp!) the appearance of naked lady deputy breasts in one of the funnier sex scenes ever shot in Maryland (including some mean mustache rubbed all over female face moves), as well as what probably went for depravity in Dohler's circles (alcohol! leather jackets!).

The rest of the film is very much like everything else Dohler has done - the acting is atrocious but funny (I dare you to find many other films in which not a single line of dialogue sounds natural), the fashion makes one want to gouge one's eyes out, and Dohler's direction is stiff but oddly charming in its stubborn insistence on copying each and every fault of the classic monster movies as filtered through a strictly provincial lens. The hairless space ape looks quite great though, or rather its head does - the rest of it is mostly hidden beneath the space disco outfit that fits Sheriff Cinder's haircut perfectly.

I don't want to sound too negative about Nightbeast. There's a certain - probably wrong-headed - enthusiasm about it, as if the people behind the cameras were shouting "Look Ma, we're making a movie!", and I for one find it difficult too argue with that.



Todd said...

God, that sex scene! The moment when it becomes clear that the fugly, wooden leads are actually going to take their clothes off and "do it" is doubtless the most terrifying in the whole picture.

houseinrlyeh said...

Yeah, it's something you really don't see every day. Fortunately, or else we'd all have scratched our eyes out a long time ago.