Blood, Boobs & Beast

Blood, Boobs & Beast (2007): United States – directed by John Paul Kinhart

Not rated by the MPAA – contains blood, boobs, and some beasts

Blood, Boobs & Beast isn’t exactly the history of exploitative B-grade cinema.  Instead, it’s actually a rather compassionate look at one of the genre’s most independent, most low-budget producers, Don Dohler.

The film starts with Dohler explaining how he and his aunt were robbed at gunpoint while working at a Washington, D.C., office.  He was thirty at the time and the event changed his life.  He figured that he better do what he wanted to do before his time ran out, so he started making independent horror films.

And so he did.  And talk about independent.  His house was used as a set, his backyard and surrounding woods used frequently for anything involving outdoor scenes.  In this manner he made films such as The Alien Factor and Nightbeast, the latter of which put him on the low-budget horror map.

Distribution was difficult at the time, and without the emergent home video market I suspect Dohler wouldn’t have made many more films.  But thanks to those old VHS tapes a new generation of horror fan was born, the one who peruses the video store shelves for the most gaudy, violent, and titillating cover art.  All the movies needed to contain to be successful were blood, boobs, and a beast.

Dohler himself was not particularly enthusiastic about the nude scenes, though it sounded like he was more willing if it served the story.  A great deal of the time, though, he realized that the only way anyone would pick it up for distribution was if it contained nudity.  One distributor featured in the film even says outright that if there hadn’t been a nude scene in one of Dohler’s early films he would have passed on it.

The film contains several talking heads, including J.J. Abrams.  One particularly memorable duo consists of a couple young men who were the most enthusiastic Dohler fans Kinhart could find.  Apparently they were drinking beer throughout the filming of Blood, Boobs & Beast and then decided that they could mess up Kinhart’s continuity if they changed hats constantly.  As a result they wear a variety of odd hats and wigs throughout the film, including army helmets and clown hats.

The film doesn’t really linger on Dohler’s filmography, or B-grade exploitation movies in general.  It is rather a look at Dohler the man.  He comes off as quiet and reserved, a family man who merely wanted to pursue his passion.  Along the way we get a glimpse into some of his personal tragedies, including the death of his first wife and his desire to care for his mentally handicapped sister.  At the beginning of the film we learn that Dohler has passed away, but it’s not until the last ten minutes that we learn about the cancer that claimed him shortly before the film was completed.

Intercut with Dohler’s own interviews (these seem to have been filmed for this documentary and planned before his death) are behind-the-scenes footage of his final shoot for the film Dead Hunt.  The whole shoot was plagued with actors dropping out, and the director (and long-time collaborator) Joe Ripple ended up changing jobs and going to nursing school during the shoot, leaving Dohler to step in as director for part of it.

The documentary as a whole is rather uneven, unsure if it wants to be entirely about Dohler’s films or his life.  It ends up leaning more toward the man than the movies, and this isn’t a bad thing.  It is readily apparent that it was lovingly made, and it is definitely not a failure.  I enjoyed it even though I hadn’t heard of Dohler before, and I am sure Dohler fans would love the film.  Other audiences, except horror fans with a penchant for the lowest budget and most independent horror films, will probably not be interested.


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