The Alien Factor Limited Edition Signed Blu Ray
The Alien Factor:
Release Date: June 14th, 2016
Starring: Tom Griffith, Don Leifert, Richard Dyszel, George Stover and Anne Frith
Directed by: Don Dohler
For those not in the know, The Alien Factor was the first fully produced, written and directed film by one Mr. Don Dohler of Baltimore, Maryland.
There is an excellent documentary on the man called Blood, Boobs & Beast by John Kinhart that is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Basically, though, he is an independent movie icon who, when held up at gun point on his 30th Birthday, decided to go out and make a movie. That movie would become The Alien Factor and it's way more ambitious, creative, joyful, fun, exciting, artistic and weird than any no-budget, independent film has any right to be.
While it borrows and homages heavily from the archetypes and ideas of the alien/monster invasion movies of the 40s and 50s - the small town, the country sheriff, the greedy mayor wishing to hush it all up, determined a big building project continues, the weird stranger who knows more than he's saying and so on - what sets this apart for me is not just the incredible heart, passion and local talent on display in the costumes, acting, special effects and monster suits but Don's writing. Not content to just have your typical alien invasion movie, Don comes up with some really cool creatures, all of whom have their own reasons for being here and, not all of them, are hostile. It's a story which we can all relate to, no matter what corner of the galaxy we come from.
I love the film. I love the characters, the monsters, the actors, the soundtrack, the special effects and the idea. Not in an ironic way either, I genuinely love it.
For anyone who has listened to all of our podcasts in order, they know that when I first viewed NightBeast, a later effort of Don's that some say is a remake/sequel of The Alien Factor (in as much as it casts a lot of the same people in similar roles), it was part of a movie marathon and I couldn't get dialed into the vibe of it and so was unsure of how I felt about it. After seeing Blood, Boobs and Beast I definitely understood more where Don was coming from and was open to giving more of his films a try. The Alien Factor was the next one I watched and I completely and totally got it. From then on I have been a huge fan of Don Dohler's, including doing a 180 on NightBeast!
When you find a filmmaker you love and when you find that he uses the same cast of actors and collaborators a lot of the time, it adds something to a film. For me and Dohler's work, they became like family. As a frustrated indie film nerd myself, I could imagine the sets, the weather, the time, the energy, the effort, the love, the excitement and the stress of putting the films together and it added to my enjoyment and experience of his work.
And what a cast!
There's the thinking-woman's silver fox and moustachioed sheriff, Tom Griffith, the unstoppable pairing of the mild-mannered, white coat wearing George Stover and Dr. Anne Frith, the man behind the make up of horror host Count Gore De Vol, Richard Dyszel as the ever suffering Mayor Wicker and, of course, the acting masterclass that is Don Liefert as the mysterious Ben Zachery.
I don't, for one minute, expect everyone to have this reaction. It would be nice but, I get it, these films are not for everyone.
There are, of course, as with most no to low-budget films, some things that some people have chuckled at or poked fun at. So if you're a first time watcher, don't go in expecting a pristine Hollywood product.
Instead go in realizing that to mount this sort of production in 1976, with just a group of friends, in your local town, is pretty impressive and awe inspiring. To have that film then syndicated on TV across America, play on 42nd street, get VHS, DVD and finally a Blu Ray release 40 years later? That's incredible!
First of all, the Blu Ray from Retromedia, Fred Olen Ray's company, is limited to 1000 copies, each one individually signed by star and Baltimore acting legend, George Stover. I was amazed to learn from George himself that he personally signed every single one but he did!
Secondly this is the best the movie has ever looked. The print is incredibly clear and makes the film pop like never before.
Lastly, the Blu Ray doesn't just rehash the extras from the previous DVD releases and instead, with the considerable help of George Stover and his vaults, puts together an impressive list of extras.
Not least of which are the commentary, in which George assembled 15 members of the cast and crew, recorded their thoughts on the movie and then edited them together - has to be some kind of record for a commentary - and the Meet the Cast & Crew Featurette where as many of the people who worked on the film, who are still living, are present. Both are a delight for fans, collectors and people interested in indie filmmaking equally.
The rest of the extras are some fascinating and funny bits from the vaults that include convention footage of a cast reunion, a feature looking at the TV promotion of the film, the original 'Retromedia Drive-In Theater' introduction and more.
My favourite thing about the whole disc is that George Stover and his ever present jacket and tie (always the well dressed gentleman) guides you through the disc and extras. It's a delight.
I would say the disc is well worth the purchase and, better hurry, they're running out fast!
- New Cast and Crew Commentary track
- Behind the Scenes featurette
- Blooper Reel
- Alternate Leemoid Sequence with Commentary track
- The Television Years
- Meet the Cast & Crew featurette
- Alien Factor Reunion
- Original "Retromedia Drive-In Theater" Episode
- 2.0 Stereo
- 1080P High Definition Widescreen
- 1.78:1 / 16x9
- 80 Mins
- Not rated
- Region Code: ALL
Don Dohler would go on to make 9 more features as either writer, producer, cinematographer or director. We have covered them all on The After Movie Diner Podcast and interviewed some of the key people involved in the making of them. Including George Stover, for a second time recently, where he spoke about The Alien Factor Blu Ray re-release, his hand in the extras and a new documentary on him called No Stopping The Stover.