The Alien Factor (1978)
Mission Log: Small Maryland town is run afoul of multiple aliens that happen to be extraterrestrial zoo specimens. While the sheriff and mayor struggle with this dilemma, they hire a strange expert that can help them capture the aliens.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- We start with random graphic images on a computer screen.
- Special Guest Star: Johnny Walker! Red or Black? And I bet that consuming large amounts of cheap scotch helped get this movie made.
- Drinking and making out in the middle of a field in a car during the day. Classic date.
- As this couple make out, the camera slowly pans towards the car and each time we see the POV of the alien the music makes this terrible pulsing sound. Sometimes the sound is just for a few seconds but at like 4 intervals.
- I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed in a movie an alien car-jack or commandeer a car. If this movie started with a high speed car chase with an alien and cops then this would be the tits!
- Weird seeing the racing cop car from the road and hearing him communicate with the dispatcher back at the station. We can’t even see the cop car driver while he’s speaking.
- Wait, so the sheriff took the girl who survived the alien attack to the doctors/morgue but some other hillbillies took the dead guy in another car? Is there no ambulance in this town?
- Is this the next day? Mary Jane told Rex before they were attacked that the sun was going down. It’s still light out and I’m assuming its been hours since the incident.
- I don’t know what that shot of a weird multi-colored light was on the ground by some fella’s feet was. All I know is if you play some Pink Floyd it would be appropriate.
- Another couple by a lake this time. The guy’s advances are rejected by the girl so he leaves her by the lake. Which is weird, you would assume in a horror movie in 1978 this guy would just try to rape her.
- OK, so now another scene with the glowing lights but this time we see someone topless transforming. It’s all starting to make sense now!
- The girl by the lake stumbles towards the transforming alien and gets spooked and runs. And knocks into the motorcycle in the road, knocking them both down. How the cyclist survived the hit and fall is miraculous in itself. He finds the girl, notices she’s dead and hightails it out of there.
- The girl is revived by the alien E.T.-style.
- The medical examiners are talking about Rex’s wounds and behind them is clearly a white sheet as the wall. Why?
- That is the loudest typewriter in the world!
- This girl who was typing something, calls the medical examiner and asks how Rex is. But the sheriff already said that he was dead.
- This girl, Edie, is our intrepid reporter out to solve this mystery!
- “Come oooowwwnnn.” Love the Maryland accents in this flick.
- So the good ol’ boys from earlier are now a vigilante group hell bent on finding the “animal” that killed Rex. Armed with shotguns and full of Budweisers, they sent off into the woods.
- Within a minute of walking, they find the alien just standing behind some rocks. The shotguns do nothing of course.
- 5 or 6 more inches of snow!? That’s a light dusting at best!
- Some Amish guy walking to his front door notices a bunch of his firewood and sticks magically leaving his wood piles. He’s then attacked by a red light. That’s it.
- Cut to slow-motion shots of kids playing ball outside. The snow is all gone now too. Which you would assume indicates a lot of time elapsed. But they found that dead Amish guy with his face all plastered up with moldy hamburger meat.
- Progeria?! Is Mickey Hays in this?
- So they found a decayed body that looks like it’s been dead for weeks or months and the medical examiner concludes its symptoms of progeria.
- The mayor is chewing out the Sheriff’s ass for not knowing what’s killing these people all because they are opening up a multi-million dollar amusement park nearby. These killings are going to hurt the grand opening!
- But when the sheriff says they should call this in to the state police, the mayor thinks that’s unnecessary. Typical.
- “No bad publicity!” This is a carnival town. They need carnival dollars. Now, if the people can’t go to a fair here, they’ll be glad to go on the Log Flume at Six Flags, Busch Gardens…
- I’m pretty sure I just watched this bar patron drink his beer by putting both lips in the glass.
- There’s a rock band trio playing at this bar. And we have the rare treat of seeing them perform a whole song uninterrupted. The lead singer is wearing a velvet coat and an ascot. There’s 2 girls listening to them play.
- The guy who can’t drink from a glass properly drinks his fill and walks out alone. He makes it home OK actually. Didn’t see that coming.
- I think this is the same guy reading “Monsters Who’s Who” alone in his bedroom. While we see a very pitch black alien POV outside his home. Again, I’m not sure. This film isn’t of the highest picture quality.
- Wait, he’s drinking more beer at home. He was alone at the bar drinking and he left to come home to drink more beer? Was he there just for the band?
- That whole bar scene was literally pointless and useless.
- The musical score is kid-friendly sci-fi. It’s comical really.
- The guy, armed with a pistol, investigates a noise in his house and slowly goes down to the basement. When he turns on the light, the alien pops up from the shadows and kills him easily. I’m not gonna lie, it was a pretty decent jump scare.
- Some new fella from a nearby observatory meets with the mayor to discuss a meteor landing in the area. He also touts himself as a paranormal enthusiast. So here’s our Matt Hooper of the movie. He’s wearing a heavy leather coat like Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark but his face is more Meathead from All in the Family.
- All that snow huh? Again, it’s just a light dusting.
- Why is the mayor accompanying the paranormal guy up the mountain to where the killings have been occurring? They’re not even armed!
- No one will be seated during the thrilling slow climb up the snowy hill scene!
- Oscar worthy acting from this mayor guy.
- Yes, take a closer look. No harm could come to you.
- Zachary, the Hooper guy, is the only one who could hear some noise and leads the mayor over to a dead female body in the woods. When Zachary leans in to the body, some blue light from her face shines to his face with twinkling stars in the beam. The Mayor just stands there.
- Zachary comes out the trance that lasted what felt like 20 minutes and tells the mayor that they have to move fast because the spacecraft is going to explode. Sure enough the cheapest miniature explosion happens off in the distance.
- Zachary is now explaining to the sheriff and Edie about the thoughts he got from the dead female in the woods. So in a nutshell, some otherworldly alien zookeeper was transporting 3 specimens when something happened to his ship and crash landed on Earth. The 3 specimens are now roaming the countryside.
- So glad that Zachary is here to give us the proper exposition. With only 30 minutes left in the feature.
- I’m not buying that the dead alien accidentally landed his ship on earth transporting zoological specimens back to his home planet. Something’s fishy.
- The mayor suggests that they would probably need to call in the Army to take care of these vicious alien killers. Zachary says that he has equipment. Plus there’s no way Don Dohler can afford army uniforms and tanks.
- “It’s tough. Believe me folks, it’s tough.” That’s the mayor’s response to making a decision about calling in the proper authorities or allowing Zachary to take care of the creatures himself.
- Just an FYI, I’ve been watching this shoddy flick that was filmed with a dirty or dusty aperture this whole time. You can see what looks like tear marks or hairs in the bottom right corner.
- Edie goes to the woods with a gallon of lighter fluid. She’ll take care of the creatures herself with the aid of FIRE!
- Steven is here. Wait a minute. Who’s Steven?
- Oh the male medical examiner is Steven. If the camera actually showed his face in light I would’ve known faster.
- One of the creatures, the tall muck monster type attacks Edie and Steven but for some reason he halts in what looks like pain and after a brief struggle collapses and dies. Zachary kills it with loud-pitched decibel power!
- “So he’s killed one creature.” That’s the sheriff’s response. Funny thing is, ever since the opening scene with the sheriff driving the car he’s only been seen in his very powered blue office. He’s done absolutely nothing this whole movie but bitch and complain. The Mayor has done more field work than the sheriff.
- Yes a scream is pretty close to a high pitched sound deputy.
- The Mayor knows for certain that there’s alien creatures killing folks but yet he still investigates a sound around his house. Sure enough the idiot gets killed by a hairy monster.
- Whew! That was a close one!
- Wait, how did the sheriff’s car get stuck on the ice going forward like that. If anything wouldn’t it continue to slide or drift. It just stops and the wheels spin with no traction.
- This is the slowest creature ever. It’s like it’s walking with a piano tethered to his back.
- Zachary to the rescue again! Is this what the rest of the movie is going to be? The “expert” successfully hunting down the monsters? No tension whatsoever in that he’s wrong or a monster gets the better of him and some other hero wins the day.
- So why is this called The Alien Factor? If anything this should be called Alien Predators. Which I’ll get to eventually.
- TWIST! The Sheriff gets a call from the observatory and they never heard of a Dr. Zachary!
- Edie’s back in the woods?! Why?!!?
- Don’t think you could speed up her little jaunt in the woods could you Don Dohler?
- So now Zachary is fighting the last creature. Which is transparent and looks like a Sleestak from Land of the Lost but more lizard-like. I’m not quite understanding the transparent part.
- After a brief and boring fight both the monster and Zachary die. I watched this fight twice and I still don’t understand what killed the monster. Maybe exposure. Or should I say over-exposure? I will admit that the alien was kinda cute and I was a wee bit sympathetic to him dying.
- The lizard alien wasn’t transparent when it died and Zachary was not in frame. So I’m thinking Dohler just couldn’t get the superimposed effect just right.
- Zachary isn’t dead but reveals himself as an alien himself to Edie. Not sure what he looks like because Dohler couldn’t afford more make-up and covers him with shadow.
- Even though Zachary warns Edie that he is a peaceful alien that was helping them kill the creatures and looks very different and horrible to humans, she still wants to look and when she sees his hideous face she starts to freak out at him. A moment later the sheriff shoots Zachary dead.
- THE END! I’m shocked that Dohler didn’t put up THE END with a question mark.
- I gotta hand it to Don, he actually named all three aliens (Inferbyce, Zagatile, Leemoid) and and gave separate credit to who created and operated them.
- Speaking of Leemoid…LEEEEEEEEEEMOOOOOOOOID Jenkins!!!!
- That bar band was called Atlantis. In case you
wantedneeded to know.
Phobia Level: We seriously need to stop asking this question.
Sick Bay: Barely a drop of blood. Guess Dohler couldn’t afford fake blood. Or figure out how to make it.
Heavenly Bodies: The Zagatile flashed his cock the whole time!
Best Transmission: There’s not much good dialogue nor bad dialogue just terrible delivery of the dialogue. However, I chuckled at the sheriff telling the mayor about Zachary, “So he’s killed one creature.”
Most Successful Experiment: For a first time inept director, this wasn’t as amateurish as I imagined it would be. The alien creatures were done well enough for something this schlocky.
Experiment Gone Awry: I’d have to go with the Zachary/Leemoid battle. So much to unpack in that scene but the fact that Zachary was fighting a giant lizard creature armed with only a large stick and just so happens to defeat it. the superimposed creature, which was stop-motion animated, looked fucking terrible. In some shots you can still see the original ground or table the claymation creature was on. It was bad on so many levels.
Damage Report: Surprisingly, that was my first foray into the wacky world of Don Dohler. Well not entirely true, Brian and I attempted to watch Galaxy Invader twice before having to bail on it. But The Alien Factor was way more entertaining than I would ever imagined. It’s very Ed Wood-esque in it’s charm, tenacity and amateurishness. Donny gave this his best shot and dammit, I’m going to give him some credit. Sure it looked like crap visually—whether it was the graininess of the film, the inadequate lighting, the half-assed set design or even the dirty camera aperture; the acting was student film-level as well as shoddy second-rate special effects—it still managed to give me a decent time. I’m very shocked. Maybe I should seek medical attention.
Kobayashi Maru Score: