Troma // 2009 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 23rd, 2008
Gotta have the three Bs.
This look at the life and career of low-budget auteur and cult filmmaker Don Dohler turns out to be an interesting, entertaining, and surprisingly sentimental documentary.
Don Dohler put out nine films throughout his career, all of which were of the micro-budget sci-fi/horror variety. He knew he had to include the three "B's" in his films, if he had a shot at landing distribution: blood, boobs, and beasts. It's no coincidence this disc was issued by Troma.
Great documentary. Setting aside the usefulness of getting an up close and personal look into the tribulations of low-budget independent filmmaking, Blood Boobs and Beast stands just as tall as a touching examination of an interesting man.
At first, Don Dohler doesn't come off as very interesting. He speaks in an even-keel, measured tone which reminds me a lot of Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick, both in voice and mannerisms. Honestly, he doesn't seem like a guy who would be neck-deep in rubber suits, atrocious acting, fake intestines, and topless blondes. He's like, I don't know, my dad or something. But he knows how to churn out some bodacious B-movie hokum!
The documentary, which includes interviews with Dohler, his family, friends, and fans, can be broken down into two elements: Don the filmmaker, and Don the man. Both are equally intriguing.
The former provides a fascinating account of what goes into producing and releasing an independent film. We're dropped into the middle of the production on his ninth film, Dead Stop. It's all there -- the challenges of location shooting (they were borrowing a friend's warehouse and repeatedly got in trouble for accidentally setting off the burglar alarm), dealing with undependable amateur actors (their lead star bailed because his wife had a baby), managing filmmaking duties when it's not your day job (co-director Joe Ripple, having started a new job, was unavailable every other weekend), and the omnipresent creative differences (shooting another ending). That's not to mention all the off-set drama, like pulling together funding, finding distribution, and making controversial decisions about how much trashy nudity to include.
As for the latter, during time spent with Don the man, we get an excellent peek into how being a B-movie director affects friends and family. Both of these personas unavoidably overlap (Don's children are in his films, as is his backyard, the interior of his house, his brother, and his aunt's hairdresser) and the life impact of those intersection points is compelling. After his fifth film, Blood Massacre, Dohler talked about how he couldn't handle the pressure and ended up taking an extended hiatus from filmmaking. The moments with his wife, who died of cancer, his new romance, and an eventual struggle with his own health concerns are legitimately moving.
Troma's DVD treatment is decent: A clean full-frame video transfer and 2.0 stereo mix are joined by a lively commentary with director John Paul Kinhart, bonus footage, and trailers. Disc Two contains Dohler's 1982 sci-fi actioner Nightbeast, an endlessly amusing saga of a sheriff with the worst haircut ever and his attempt to neutralize an intergalactic rubber-suited alien. All three B's are present and accounted for: The Nightbeast sheds much blood in his human attacks, and that sheriff (Tom Griffith) engages in one of the all-time unsexiest love scenes ever with the aforementioned hairdresser and her boobs.
For the aspiring low-budget director, this is a must-see. Anyone down for a great little documentary is also encouraged to give the disc a spin.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Footage
* Nightbeast feature film