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Alien Factor, The

Entry updated 27 June 2022. Tagged: Film.

US film (1978). Cinemagic Visual Effects. Directed and written by Don Dohler. Cast includes Richard Dyszel, Anne Frith, Tom Griffith and Don Leifert. 79 minutes. Colour.

In rural Maryland the killing of a young man is blamed on a wild animal; three men decide to hunt it down, but die. Elsewhere, a corpse is found: the coroner (Frith) tells the sheriff (Griffith) it suffered accelerated ageing, adding that the first victim's body was filled with Poison. Meanwhile, a woman flees after seeing a Spaceship and a horrifying Alien, only to be run over by a motorbike; the creature's glowing eyes heal her (see Psi Powers).

The local mayor (Dyszel), who is worried that the deaths will affect the town's planned amusement park, is approached by Ben Zachary (Leifert), apparently from a nearby observatory that has recorded a meteorite crashing in the vicinity. The pair go into the woods and discover a crashed spacecraft (not the one seen earlier): here an injured alien Telepathically communicates with Ben, then dies. He tells the sheriff the alien had been "transporting zoological specimens back to its home planet". They escaped when the ship crashed: two are beasts, killing out of fear; the third – a transparent energy being – is intelligent.

Ben kills the three creatures: high pitched sounds shatter the shell of the first, a humanoid insect – venom extracted from it poisons the second. The third Monster – which drains its victim's life force (see Vampires) – puts up more of a fight, injuring Ben before it dies. This causes Ben to revert to his true form (see Shapeshifters), the ugly healing alien seen earlier. Whilst explaining to a local reporter that he had been sent to tidy up the mess caused by the crash, the sheriff arrives and – seeing what appears to be a monster attacking the reporter – shoots and kills Ben.

This science fiction Horror film's premise is reasonable: alien Zoo specimens escape and go on a murderous rampage, but are hunted down by an intelligent alien who is ironically killed by a local sheriff in a case of mistaken identity. Unfortunately script is Cliché-laden, whilst the acting and direction are poor. Though, given the budget of $3,500, it is unfair to be too harsh. Dohler was proud of his DIY special effects (note the name of his production company) and certainly Ben's alien form is suitably unpleasant. Dohler's self-published magazine, Cinemagic, was a special effects guide for amateur film makers, influencing among others J J Abrams – who would write the music for Nightbeast (1982) (see below).

Though released in 1978, Alien Factor had been shot in 1972. Dohler made several more horror films before his death in 2006. Those with sf elements include Nightbeast (1982), where an alien crashlands on Earth and starts killing people with its disintegrating Ray, until electrocuted. Galaxy Invader (1985) also has an alien crashlanding on Earth, though this example is relatively less violent than its predecessors: here the focus is more on two groups of humans, one trying to capture and sell the alien, the other to help it (unsuccessfully, as it ends up dead). Despite the title, Alien Factor 2: The Alien Rampage (2001) was not really a sequel: an alien surrounds a town with a Force Field and begins killing people until blown up. Crawler (2004) was directed by Joe Ripple, but Dohler was heavily involved: the plot involves a cobra-like alien who arrives during a meteorite storm and, yet again, starts killing people. [SP]


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