Blood, Boobs & Beast (2007)

DVD Cover (Troma Entertainment)
Genres: Biography (Non-Fiction), Documentary, Film & Television History
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John Kinhart John Kinhart
Don Dohler Don Dohler
J.J. Abrams J.J. Abrams
Robert Long II Robert Long II
Mitch Klein Mitch Klein
Dan Snyder Dan Snyder

7.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: March 14, 2007
Making a biography-styled documentary is a tricky task thanks to the varying name value of the subjects being featured. On the one hand, you can make a biography about someone that everyone knows - let's say Steven Spielberg for example. The problem there is the same thing that would set it apart: everyone knows who Spielberg is and what he's done, so the best you could hope for from the film would be to see some interesting interview segments and trivial factoids. On the other hand, you can make a biography about someone that isn't very well-known, but you run the risk of winding up with a biography that leaves the viewer wondering why they should care about the subject in the first place. At a glance, Blood, Boobs & Beast (a biography of independent director Don Dohler) fell into the latter category. I'd never heard of the guy prior to receiving this DVD, and I can't recall seeing a single selection from his filmography. When you put those two together and add in the fact that he stuck almost exclusively to the horror genre - a genre that I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about - it should go without saying that I wasn't expecting a whole lot.

To enlighten the readers who may not have heard of him, Don Dohler is a Baltimore-native director (and creator of Cinemagic magazine) who started out making low-budget horror / sci-fi films during the seventies. He directed five films - The Alien Factor, Fiend, Nightbeast, The Galaxy Invader, and Blood Massacre - before going on a self-imposed hiatus from the world of film. He returned in 1999 with Alien Factor 2: The Alien Rampage, and during the shooting, he met actor Joe Ripple. The two saw eye to eye on a lot of things, and Don - not being a fan of actually directing films - asked Joe to direct his films for him so that he could focus exclusively on cinematography and editing. With both a partnership and a friendship formed, the duo would go on to release five films: Harvesters, Stakes, Vampire Sisters, Crawler and Dead Hunt.

However, things had changed since Don's first run as a filmmaker during the video boom of the eighties, and he now found himself having to include the three B's (Blood, Boobs & [a] Beast) in each of the films he was involved with or risk losing out on any hope of a distribution deal. The former and the latter weren't a problem - after all, this is horror - but it's the exploitation stuff that Don isn't a fan of, and his fans agreed after comparing his early work to his new stuff. Joe, on the other hand, stands firm in saying that it's a required element in today's releases, and as a result, Don is seemingly losing interest in film-making. Will he ever make another film, or will this formulaic approach to movie making run this guy out of the business? Watch the movie to find out.

For starters, I'd like to point out something about the film that viewers may call me out on for not mentioning in this review: the ending. Personally, I would have mentioned and discussed it in this review, but I was specifically asked to refrain from mentioning it by the director. I don't necessarily agree with that request, but I can understand why it was made: to reveal the ending would considerably lessen the impact, and honestly, I'm glad that I didn't know about it before sitting through the film. Therefore, I'll let viewers experience it for themselves, but hopefully you'll understand when you find yourself asking why I omitted it from this review.

What I will discuss is how much I enjoyed the film. I can safely say that I didn't expect that: after all, I'd never heard of the guy who was the centerpiece of the film, I'd never seen his films, and even if I had, well... Don himself admits that they're not exactly award-winning masterpieces, if you catch my drift. Therefore, why should I care about his life story? This question was answered almost from the opening moments of the film: Don Dohler is a very well spoken guy with a lot of interesting stories to tell about the movie-making business. He also gave director John Kinhart an inside look at what it truly takes to create an independent feature-length film, and those of you who think it's all fun and games should definitely give this one a watch.

I also thought that the editing of the film was handled excellently, which itself is a rarity in independent documentaries (sad but true). Everyone involved has a lot of interesting stuff to say and there's a handful of appearances from "big name" people to weigh in on Don and his work: Tom Savini, Lloyd Kaufman, and J.J. Abrams (creator of the TV show Lost) all pop in for a few minutes, and it's all spliced together perfectly. Everyone is given ample time to tell their stories, but at the same time, nobody is ever given too much time on one subject; you'll never find yourself wanting to fast-forward through a segment, and in fact, there's an abundance of downright riveting material to be found.

This is a film that fans of independent horror should definitely check out, even if you found yourself thinking "Don who?" at the beginning of this review. I have no clue as to what sort of distribution deal it's getting, whether it's making the festival rounds, or even if you can snag a copy from the official site just yet, but keep an eye out for it: you won't regret it. 9/10.
bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 03/15/2007, 10:54 AM
Wow. I had no idea this documentary even existed. I know Don Dohler's films. I actually own an old VHS copy of "N ightbeast" and remember seeing "Fiend" back when it used to come on television with a different name -- "Deadly Neighbor". Yeah...he's definitely a case of a creative person with great ideas who just never got the exposure he deserved. Plus, most of his films hit in the 1980's, where 10 horror films were released every week to theatres and straight to video. I don't think we'll ever fully realize how many lost 80's classic horror films there are and were. 8/10.
Hellknight03 #2: Hellknight03 - added 07/02/2009, 09:24 PM
Yeah good documentary. A must for any true horror in my honest opinion.
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