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Fiend - Retromedia Entertainment Print E-mail
User Rating: / 1
Written by Jay Creepy   
Friday, 07 October 2016


AKA: Deadly Neighbor, Angst der Verlorenen

Directed by: Don Dohler
Written by: Don Dohler
Produced by: Ted Bohus, George Stover, Anne Frith
Cinematography by: Richard Geiwitz
Editing by: Don Dohler
Special Effects by: David Wenwick, Mark Supensky
Music: Paul Wozicki
Cast: Don Leifert, Richard Nelson, George Stover, Elaine White, Greg Dohler. Pam Dohler.
Year: 1980
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1h 32min

Studio: Cinema Enterprises
Distributor: Retromedia

A lot of people dismiss the late Don Dohler's films as cruddy time-wasters and usually in reviews give wrong facts because they've probably pushed fast forwards mid-way. His films are basic, very very basic. I first came across his works watching Night Beast about five years ago. The DVD was accompanied by a documentary feature and his story was incredible (Blood, Boobs & Beast). I truly understood his feelings why he did films after his brush with death. The man involved friends and family and did what he pleased. A majority of the casts appeared in other films, including his son. Don's own magazine was notorious, though short-lived. He was a film fan and his early works glow with the love of his art. Energy and a frantic pace which wasn't around his later works.

Why have I picked Fiend? It's his masterpiece, in my opinion. It has the gloom and the mood of a midnight chiller discovered on an obsolete TV channel which you try a few minutes and end up sticking with. As with Night Beast, where the Alien creature appears and just blasts the hell out of everyone nonstop, with no mercy or sentimental bits, Fiend starts as it means to go on.

A floating red cloud, of whatever the fuck it is, slides and glides through a graveyard accompanied by some cool electric music. A couple is hanging around, he wants dirty things, and she moans and shudders. In the meanwhile, a rotted moustached corpse rises from the earth glowing red and twisting its face. His warm glowing hands chicken chokes the woman. Thus begins b. As she dies, the decomposition fades and he appears normal. Flexing his hands and breathing heavily.

Welcome to Kingsville, a suburb filled with kids, working people, and apple pies. Mr. Longfellow, who looks rather like the corpse, purchases and empty house in the neighbourhood. It turns out, he's a music teacher by trade, giving private lessons at home. His hobby is stalking and killing people in the woods to force back the decay. At this point I'd like to note that, Don Leifert who portrays Longfellow plays the monster with much glee. His expressions and his mannerisms are so convincing. In fact, he is just about the only person in the film acting.

Mr. Longfellow spends his time deep within his damp basement with his cat, Dorian, where he's set up a shrine to his victims, and drinks a lot of red wine. Longfellow has to tolerate a nosy next door neighbour called Gary, who, much to his wife's annoyance, doesn't like the music teacher. It starts with his anger at evening music, and then later to his own investigations into his involvement in the death of a child round back. “Gary, I don't believe you sometimes!” his wife Marsha, laments.

One morning, Gary strolls over trying to make conversation. Longfellow seems bored and amused at the same time, handing out shallow replies to all his questions. “How's the music business?” “Just fine.” He's about to probe deeper when Marsha shouts him over looking quite annoyed.

Dennis Fry runs Longfellow's music studio, and is comedy relief. He finds himself roped into situations beyond his control, such as lying to the police to cover his boss. He's also centre target of his Longfellow's raging fury numerous times. “How dare you interrupt my lessons for something so ridiculous!” when Fry has forgotten his music sheets which he vitally needs at his bosses house. In reality, Longfellow was about to kill his pretty student before Fry returned. Poor guy, he just cannot win.

When he strangles a little girl near his house, the police and neighbours are all risen, but the police don't seem too fussed that there's been so many murders in the region with the same trademarks, they seem not to care at length about this one.

Gary won't give in though. The moment his bored friend tells him. “Hi, Gary. It's just awful. They found little Chrissy dead.” He's all enraged and asks, “What about Longfellow?” when he discovers the murder took place back of their house. He and his assistant, Fry, were listening to music, hearing nothing. Gary keeps asking questions. He confronts him. Longfellow invites him for a drink in the basement. Whilst he leaves to get a fresh bottle, Gary prowls around, finding the shrine behind curtains. It ends with harsh words. Gary is totally pissed off at his neighbour's lack of emotions.

Regardless, Longfellow carries on strangling men and women in the vicinity. (I think the woods and paths are meant to be miles apart, but you can see the same houses here and there) until Gary argues with Dennis Fry, who is found dead soon after. Gary is on a one man mission. One of his old buddies who's a cop informs him of the whole string of strangulation murders rocking the region, and grave robbing in another county. His wife knows of this, it happened months ago. The body in question was related to their old neighbours, the Johnsons. His name was William Dorian. Gary knows that name from somewhere, but he can't think.

Marsha sends him to an old book store to collect some film mags for her boy scouts group, and he chances upon a book The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology. Certain things in the hardback seems too close to what he knows, so he ventures out to the graveyard where the body was stolen, and the bizarre truth slowly becomes exposed.

The musical score rarely catches a break, it is in scene after scene and adds layers of doom to the already dark subject. There's just something so appealing about the simple days of low budget movie making. Nothing too demanding, playing for chills and not giggles. Not trying to be anything other than what it is. Fiend backs up its monster with some facts and myths. Look, it's not an alien, I've seen that in a few reviews over the years! There's hardly much in the way of blood and effects either. The glowing hands and stuff looks amateur even for 1980, but it's so much fun.

The cast do their best, as they aren't professionals. In fact, the above mentioned Don Leifert chews the scenery like a boss because nobody else, aside from George Stover as Fry, can actually act at all. He's still doing films and has been since 1974. Sadly Leifert passed some years ago, otherwise I reckon he would have continued playing hulking body moustached villains.

Fiend feels like it should sit alongside NOTLD and Carnival of Souls as an eerie popcorn flick. I actually compare this to Lustig's Maniac, simply because the central killers are quite alike in motions and appearance. This is Dohler's masterpiece, as I said, and it was so damn hard to get a hold of anywhere. I have a DVD-R copy, and there's a good quality transfer on YouTube. It was also released on DVD in 2003 by Retromedia and some copies are still available for purchase on Amazon. Shamefully, this quaint little creation may never be seen by many who will totally get the concept and the rawness. Oooh,Fiend gives that loving warm feel you get when you've found something so simple and special.





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