If you’re looking for a good sci-fi film, Nightbeast is probably not it. But hear me out here, because that sounds like a pretty harsh indictment of this extremely low-budget flick from Don Dohler. While Night Beast may not be a “good” film, it certainly is a wacky, weird, and hilarious one to watch with friends. Dohler and company seem to realize that the eccentricities of this film’s acting, writing, and editing fall squarely in the cheese camp, and they’re really not shy about playing that up to glorious exaggerations. Thus, no one is going to watch Nightbeast for its cinematic value; instead, it’s a perfect movie for beer-swilling and popcorn-eating, and that’s ultimately what Dohler is driving at.
The film is about as simple as one can get for an alien plot. An alien comes to a small town, begins blasting people with its melting ray or ripping coeds apart with its sharp claws, and Sheriff Cinder (Tom Griffith) and his team of deputies are tasked with evacuating the community and bringing down the beast. And… that’s it. That’s the plot. There are minor substories about a lecherous governor visiting to attend a pool party with hot chicks and a badass motorcycle thug murdering his ex-girlfriend, but ultimately the entirety of Nightbeast focuses on the alien attacking random people. It’s extremely one-dimensional and easily forgettable.
And yet the hootenanny within the film isn’t thanks to some great choices. If you’re looking for action scenes, might I direct you to Nightbeast‘s 15 minutes of gun/laser pistol sequences, which consist of close-ups of both the alien and cops shooting their pistols over and over and over again? They last an interminable amount of time and, of course, our cops must have some sort of viral eye disease because none of them can hit the broad side of our alien’s ass. How about tender lovemaking? Here, our main character Cinder has the charm of Magic Mike Channing Tatum apparently, because after a fellow cop pulls his pants down to tend to his wound she enacts a porn rite of passage by tending to his… other needs.
At 84 minutes, it is a bit surprising that Nightbeast still lags in its middle half. Part of that comes from the plot’s poor progression – there really isn’t any. No rhyme or reason for the alien, no real character arcs – it’s all just a way to have constant laser battles, humans melting into goo, and a nice busty secretary. Still, if you’re into that sort of nonsense, Nightbeast is definitely for you.
Vinegar Syndrome has provided a new 2K scan of this film from the 16mm camera negative with its 1.33:1 aspect ratio. It’s important to note that, from a purely aesthetic stance, Nightbeast has never and will never look immaculate thanks to its source material. However, Vinegar Syndrome has done the best possible with this, smoothing out almost all of the usual damage issues from 16mm footage and doing some great work on the color grading. Now, viewers can definitely notice the change from fog filter to normal shooting in a number of scenes. Some debris still remains, and there is the occasional blue line that pops up, but this transfer is perhaps the best one we’ll see of Nightbeast and I can’t see anyone else getting better results (or even attempting it).
Audio is a DTS-HD Master Audio mono track and it sounds about as good as can be expected based on original recording. It tends to have a muted quality but this comes from the source itself, and overall no issues here with dialogue or music. English subtitles are also included.
Extra features are surprisingly bountiful including an audio commentary with Don Dohler and actor George Stover, archival featurettes where much of the cast is interviewed, a new interview with Jamie Zemarel most notable for being electrocuted and giving a bloodcurdlingly loud scream, a look at the special effects with John Ellis, and an interview with cinematographer Richard Geiwitz who talks about the tricky lighting for this movie with such a low budget.
Theatrical trailer, outtake and blooper reels, and a VFX gallery are also included. This also includes a DVD version of the film and reversible poster artwork.
While Nightbeast will only appeal to a particular kind of viewer, Vinegar Syndrome has still given it excellent treatment with its new transfer and slew of extras. Certainly recommended if the aforementioned film sounds intriguing.