NIGHTBEAST (1982) Review


Directed by Don Dohler
Written by Don Dohler
Starring Tom Griffith, Jamie Zemarel, Karen Kardian, George Stover, Don Liefert

Don’t get me wrong. This is a bad movie. But sometimes, bad movies can be so bad they travel around the world of bad and somehow end up being kind of good. I’m sure some older readers will remember this 80’s schlocker about an alien who crash lands in a country town and disintegrates anyone and everyone in his path for no apparent reason. I’m sure there might even be some who would admit to being scared of the creature in this film. If NIGHTBEAST wasn’t on MSK3K, it should have. It has all the makings of a candidate for the show. Even if it wasn’t on that show, NIGHTBEAST is the type of movie to watch with buddies and beer and ridicule the hell out of. Troma is sponsoring the re-release of NIGHTBEAST with some slick new packaging and a pretty clean transfer. Though some scenes are pretty dark and grainy still, I guarantee it’s the best this film has ever looked.

Amateur acting, cheap effects, and a sloppy script doesn’t help NIGHTBEAST. The actors in this film deliver lines like they’re reading mattress tags. Tom Griffith plays Sheriff Cinder, who battles the beast without an ounce of muscle and a grey afro more akin to Fredric Douglas than William Katt despite his Caucasian-ness. Lisa Kent, played by the mulletted Karin Kardian, shares a love scene with the sheriff in the latter half of the movie that is more frightening than all of the alien attacks combined. Though their performances are wooden, I was morbidly fascinated by these two actors. The rest of the cast shouldn’t waste time picking out an Oscar outfit either, but it’s the amateur delivery of the lines that makes this film all the more appealing to me. I’m just sick that way, I guess.

NIGHTBEAST does have some fun moments of gore as the beast doesn’t just disintegrate his prey, he likes to rip appendages and heads off as well. There are some gory shots of goodness in this one, celebrating the scope director / writer Don Dohler was going for. The script basically follows the structure of JAWS in that folks are trying to evacuate the town due to the menace. A few adventurous types and a few stubborn and drunk ones decide to stay behind. Of course, they meet the beast who is pretty impressive in pictures, but it’s obvious fairly early on that it’s just a hairless ape mask repainted and sporting a glued on set of uneven teeth. All in all, NIGHTBEAST is drive-in, beer-swilling, audience-heckling fun. Don’t go in expecting to be scared. But if you’re looking to laugh at a senseless schlocker, NIGHTBEAST will fit the bill nicely.

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