BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

The Alien Factor: Limited Signed Edition (1978) - Blu-ray Review

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The Alien Factor - blu-ray review

5 beersI freakin’ love The Alien Factor.  Filmed in Baltimore, Maryland by a bunch of freaks and geeks, the schlocky film is a throwback to the classic run of 1950’s creature features and has just the right amount of humor and gore to make it worth revisiting time and time again.  It has no stars attached to it.  It also has no budget.  And, with only the cold of winter and several rampaging aliens to keep the movie operating, it absolutely makes me feel warm all over.  Sure, it’s full of plot holes, inconsistencies, and cheap do-it-yourself effects but, when you are having this much fun, who really cares?!

Featuring hokey performances from film historian Don Leifert, George Stover, and some of director Don Dohler’s friends, The Alien Factor begins, as most drive-in movies do, with a young couple necking in a parked car.  They are in a pristine spot as it is well-isolated and away from nosey adults.  What they never expected approaches them mid-caress.  An unearthly monster emerges.  Their lives are forever changed and, with death and destruction left in its wake, the alien invasion of Earth begins right here in this fictional Pennsylvania town.  Can the small town community lead the charge in the fight against these spaced invaders?

The aliens in the movie – one being a stop-motion beast with Harryhusen-like attributions brought to life by Ernest D. Farino (of The Terminator fame) – are bizarre enough to cut loose in your dreams.  Charred skin, red eyes, twisted snarls, and slow-moving, these are twisted inventions.  Easily, the most interesting of these aliens is the 7-foot tall Zagatile (designed and performed by John Cosentino).  With fur all over its body and a mandible at the center of its simian-shaped head, this creature shoots straight to the top of list of aliens I’d never want to encounter - especially in a basement.  

What’s great about the movie is the amount of mystery it churns up as the local population starts dwindling.  The town's sheriff (a befuddled Tom Griffith) behaves in a manner that suggests the biggest thing he’s ever investigated involved finding someone’s misplaced keys.  It turns out that all of these aliens – there are three loose in the town, one in pursuit of the escaped aliens, and another one dead behind the console of a crashed alien ship– have escaped the downed ship after it made a crater in the earth.  They are hungry, confused, and unwilling to go back to their cage and become someone’s “research” project.

With a squawking electronic score guiding this Bolex SBM-shot film, it’s surprising just how many shots – accidental or not – actually work.  Cinematographer Britt McDonough is to be praised for bringing the cold exterior sequences to life in the way he did.  There is a rather clever sequence showing children at play as they journey closer to the danger in the woods.  This montage goes on far too long to be effective BUT it does position some interesting views, finally resting on a nice shot where the grass, with the children’s heads just barely visible, fills most of the screen. 

Another effective sequence shows off the shocking beauty of Zagatile monster as a man discovers it in his basement.  This sequence scared the shit out of me when I originally saw this on television many, many years ago.  It is still – as evident by the limited (to 1000 copies) blu-ray release from Retromedia Entertainment Group (featuring a new 2K scan) – quite intense.    

Written, edited, produced, and directed by Don Dohler, The Alien Factor is an absolute blast of B-grade science fiction shock and schlock.   Fans of Jack Woods’ Equinox will definitely want to check this one out.  It’s incredible in that backyard sci-fi epic sort of way.  Simply put, my enthusiasm for this film knows no bounds. 

The Alien Factor is the very definition of a cult classic.

The Alien Factor - blu-ray review

MPAA Rating: Not rated
Runtime:
80 mins
Director
: Don Dohler
Writer:
Don Dohler
Cast:
Don Leifert, Tom Griffith, Richard Dyszel
Genre
: Horror | Sci-fi
Tagline:
They brought terror from beyond our galaxy!
Memorable Movie Quote:
Distributor:
Cinemagic Visual Effects
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 12, 1978
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 14, 2016
Synopsis: A spaceship containing specimens for an intergalactic zoo crashes on Earth near a small back woods town. The specimens escape, and soon town folk are turning up mutilated. Very low budget feature was the first for Baltimore filmmaker Don Dohler.

The Alien Factor - blu-ray review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - June 14, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: English: LPCM 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD-25)
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

Retromedia Entertainment Group give us a reason to celebrate with this release.  The new 2K HD 16x9 Widescreen scan from the 16mm negative is worth every penny.  While the weakness in the look of the film is due to the low, low budget, this is the best the film has ever looked and probably the best it will EVER look.  Film grain is strong throughout (which I appreciate it) and so are the colors.  They are never that bold but they do hold their edges well.  Black levels are consistent, too.  Even if some of the night scenes are actually shot during the day, there is a new layer of detail that gets through in the transfer.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There is a fabulous commentary track from the cast and the crew of the movie.  With so many people involved, this one is a treasure and was recorded strictly for this release.

Special Features:

Retromedia Entertainment Group knows the audience for this one is limited.  They also know that the film’s audience is stark-raving mad which is why they’ve included actor George Stover’s autograph to this limited release.   There will only ever be 1000 copies issued.  Get yours now.  The supplemental items are decent and feature a look behind the scenes, a reunion of the cast caught on a camcorder, alternate sequences, bloopers, and more.

  • Behind the Scenes
  • The Television Years
  • Meet the Cast & Crew Featurette
  • The Alien Factor Reunion
  • Alternate Leemoid Sequence with Commentary Track
  • Blooper & Out-Take Reel
  • Original "Retromedia Drive-In Theatre" Intro

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