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NIGHTBEAST (1982)

"We just found Ben Cooper. His body’s over at the doc’s house. Jack, it’s half-eaten!"

Director: Don Dohler
Starring: Tom Griffith, Karin Kardian, Jamie Zemarel, George Stover, Anne Frith, Richard Dyszel, Don Leifert
Screenplay: Don Dohler

Synopsis: An alien craft crashes near a small American town. The alien escapes, but the ship explodes, drawing a number of the local residents to the site. The first people to see the alien are all killed by it. When Sheriff Jack Cinder (Tom Griffith), his deputies, and several of the townspeople arrive, a violent battle ensues, the only survivors being Jack, Deputy Lisa Kent (Karin Kardian) and local man Jamie Lambert (Jamie Zemarel). The next day, Jack visits the mayor, Bert Wicker (Richard Dyszel), and asks that he help evacuate the town. Bert refuses, explaining that the party he is holding for the Governor cannot be cancelled. Furious, Jack and Lisa take matters into their own hands and evacuate the town themselves. Two doctors, Steven Price (George Stover) and Ruth Sherman (Anne Frith), agree to stay behind and help. Jack and Jamie discover that Bert’s party for the Governor has commenced despite their warnings; Jamie frightens the guests away by telling them there has been a poison gas leak. The alien attacks the doctors’ surgery, killing several people. Steven fights the creature off by giving it an electric shock. Realising that electricity may be their only hope, Jack and his team set a trap for the alien.

Comments: The truly amazing thing about Troma is that somehow they manage to find films to distribute that are even worse than the ones they make themselves. Actually, that’s not entirely fair. While Nightbeast is by no stretch of the imagination a good film, it’s watchable, which is more than can be said for Surf Nazis Must Die. The film suffers from the usual shortcomings of this kind of regional, semi-amateur film-making: cliches, poor special effects, wooden acting, and the kind of script where "Holy shit!" is considered witty, Oscar Wilde-esque dialogue. Most of the cast doubles as part of the crew, and you can’t turn around without tripping over a Dohler in one capacity or another (my favourite credit is for Pam Dohler as "talent coordinator"). Still, Nightbeast does have its entertaining aspects. The alien looks like a mutant piranha and wears a snazzy silver lame space suit. While most of the killings involve people being disintegrated, Don Dohler also throws in some gore effects to liven things up, offering an extremely silly disemboweling at the start and a ludicrous decapitation halfway through. For those of you who like that sort of thing, there’s also some totally gratuitous female nudity (well, let’s face it, these women weren’t hired for their acting ability). Although in most cases, the actors’ only other screen credit is the Baltimore-based Dohler’s previous sci-fi effort, The Alien Factor (1979), they’re not as bad as you might expect, except perhaps for Don Leifert, who really hams it up as local cycle-psycho, Drago. Genre figure George Stover, who’s appeared in everything from Female Trouble (1975) to Attack Of The 60 Foot Centerfold (1995), gives a competent performance as Steven Price. To the film’s credit, it moves along pretty briskly, only bogging down over a fairly embarrassing sex scene (contractual obligation?) and the scenes involving Jamie’s involvement with Drago’s girl, Suzie. Overall, Nightbeast a film to watch while you’re having a beer. Or two.

Check out all the details of this movie on the IMDB