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The Alien Factor 1978
Description: A spaceship containing specimens for an intergalactic zoo crashes on World near a tiny back woods town. The specimens escape, and later city folk are turning up mutilated. Very weak budget detail was the first for Baltimore filmmaker Don Dohler.
Released: 12 May 1978 Director: Don Dohler Writers: Don Dohler Actors: Don Leifert, Tom Griffith, Richard Dyszel, Mary Mertens Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi
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The Alien Factor Reviews:

I know this film well since I am Sheriff Cinder. Some of the negative comments I've seen used to really receive to me. But that was when I was a lot closer to the project. After all, that was almost 25 years ago. I search them quite accurate and funny now. It is a fun movie to watch with a bunch of mates (if you're into this genre). Trust it or not, I can't receive my hands on any nice copy of this movie. By the way, I just ran across some of the original paste-up boards, for Cinemagic Magazine, that Don Dohler (director) and I test to publish before and during the time we made The Alien Factor. What a kick it was to look over that stuff. If you haven't seen this film, receive your hands on it and allow IMDb know what you think!


What can I tell 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 creatures present up out of nowhere and terrorize a mountain village. A stranger called Zachary discovers they came from a spaceship the ruined in the hills and nominates himself as a one boy committee to round up and/or destroy the alien beasts. Actually you have to see these creatures to trust 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 creature 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 film but who finally materializes for the end. They forgot, or should not afford, to matte out the background so the thing is transparent for all its scenes. Is that all? Not nearly! How about live melody from a musician named "Lon Talbot" and 2 go-go women 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 film is an immediate classic! I loved it! Don Dohler made another movies but this one is the most fun. Can we take Edward D. Wood off that pedastal actually and place Don Dohler in his place? His movies deserve to be seen and talked about; especially this one.


For a young Super-8 aficionado, growing up in the late 70's, Don Dohler was legend. Greatest known as the editor for Cinemagic magazine (and the Movie Magic books), he would detail articles and how-to-do hints on everything from latex modeling to stop-motion to optical results on the cheap. Of course, a large chunk of the contributions came from those who worked on his own features, including John Dods, John Costentinio, and Ernest Farino (who soon did the stop-motion fx on THE TERMINATOR). And for anyone who read Movie Magic, a large highlight was the design of the Zagatile beast that Constentino designed for test in Dohler's first detail 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 everytime came across as true pros, making their work and results sound really nice in print. Then, almost 26 years after having read Movie Magic, I finally got around to seeing THE ALIEN FACTOR. Well, it sounded promising, but the reality is everytime different. What we essentially receive to watch is a zero-budget 16mm effort featuring a group of Baltimore yokels up vs 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 features 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 comeback of a mysterious stranger (Don Leifert), who possesses an uncanny ability to hunt down the trio of beasties. Allow us be fair to Dohler: with only local talent, limited crew, backyard locales, and miles away from Hollywood, they did the greatest they could. Plus, there are effective moments: the discovery of the spaceship (good test of foreground miniature); the Zagatile's attack in a man's darkened basement; and the final war with the Lemoid, with excellent, if brief stop-motion animation from Farino. Unfortunately, Dohler's directorial abilities lagged far behind his special talents in wrangling cheap fx. The performances are stiff, the overall pace drags, and the erratic melody 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 creature 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 should 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.



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