Cinmatic Titanic and RiffTrax favorite Don Dohler

Don M. Dohler

Donald Michael "Don" Dohler (born January 27, 1946 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA; passed away December 2, 2006 in Perry Hall, Maryland, USA) was an American film director known for making low-budget science fiction and horror films as well as work in underground comix and publishing.


Early life

Dohler was born in Baltimore, Maryland. As a child, his mother bought him a film projector and one day he drew stick figures on a piece of scotch tape. He ran the tape through the projector and just before the tape burned up inside of the projector, he saw the animated figure dance on the wall and that’s when he knew he wanted to make films.

In 1961 at the age of 15, Dohler started a MAD magazine-style fanzine called WILD. MAD had Alfred E. Neuman as a mascot so Dohler used his middle-school creation, ProJunior as WILD’s mascot. In WILD’s peak it had contributors such as Jay Lynch, Art Spiegelman, and Skip Williamson, who later went on to be famous in the underground comix movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s.

In the early 70’s Jay Lynch and Art Spiegelman were fooling around and they started drawing WILD’s mascot, ProJunior, again, but this time in a leopard skin leotard. Robert Crumb saw ProJunior and decided to draw a comic about him. As a result, Jay Lynch rounded up 22 underground comix artists, including Dohler, to draw their own interpretation of ProJunior, which was published in a comic in 1971.

In the mid 60’s Dohler came up with an idea for a magazine for filmmakers. It would feature illustrated step-by-step articles for amateur special effects filmmakers. Inspired by his underground comix friends Dohler set off to publish the magazine on his own. The magazine featured articles by industry professionals and went on for 11 issues before being purchased by Starlog in 1979. Cinemagic inspired several young filmmakers who later went on to have successful careers in Hollywood, including J.J. Abrams, Tom Sullivan, Ernie Farino and Al Magliochetti.

Dohler’s first film, The Alien Factor, was released in 1976 and is a B-grade science fiction film. The story begins with a young teenage couple making out in a car when an insect-looking monster attacks. Local sheriff must find out what's causing the killings while the mayor is breathing down his neck to keep a lid on the deaths so a multi-million dollar amusement park can be built nearby. Featuring special f/x from Ernest Farino, John Cosentino and Larry Schelecter, this sci-fi thriller had a long run on TV throughout the 80's, including Ted Turner's TBS Superstation cable channel.

Dohler made a several more ultra low-budget films during the 1980s, including The Galaxy Invader, Nightbeast, Blood Massacre and Fiend, a serial killer film with a supernatural twist.

Film Ventures International later ended up taking footage from both Galaxy Invader for their recut version of what was later the opening credits to Experiment 303 Pod People.

After an 11-year, self-imposed hiatus, Dohler returned to filmmaking with Alien Rampage where Dohler met actor/cop Joe Ripple. Dohler never cared for directing, so he asked Ripple to direct his films, and he concentrated on cinematography and editing. Together they made five films including Harvesters, Stakes, Vampire Sisters, Crawler and Dead Hunt. Dohler's life is chronicled in a documentary by John Kinhart titled Blood, Boobs & Beast.


Motion pictures

  • The Alien Factor (1976) (Director, Writer, Uncredited Producer, Co-Star, Additional Photographer and Editor)
  • Fiend (1980)
  • Nightbeast (1982)
  • The Galaxy Invader (1985) (Director, Writer, Special Sound Effects and Editor)
  • Blood Massacre (1988)
  • Alien Rampage (1999) (A.K.A. Alien Factor 2: The Alien Rampage)
  • Harvesters (2001) (Remake of Blood Massacre)
  • Stakes (2002)
  • Vampire Sisters (2003)
  • Crawler (In Post-Production)
  • Dead Hunt (2006)
  • The Front Man (2014) (Guest appearance)

External links

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