Directed by: Jet Eller
Starring: Donnie Evans, Brett Gentile, Mike Monzitta, Michael Ruff and Kate Leahey
Written by: Jet Eller
Runtime: 83 minutes
In the 1970s, we saw hundreds of low budget films delivered by many low budget filmmakers both new and experienced. Guys like William Girdler (THREE ON A MEATHOOK (1972)) and Charles B. Pierce (THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK (1972)) were notorious for stretching their budgets for any given film they produced or directed. These filmmakers needed to be extraordinarily creative in order to get any result at all, either good or bad. The same can be said about director Jet Eller’s NIGHT FEEDERS (2006). With an initial shooting budget of just $24,000 that doubled to $58,000 by the time production finished and the film was released, Eller not only managed to get his picture NIGHT FEEDERS made, but also delivered a fun throwback monster movie.
The plot for NIGHT FEEDERS is pretty simple. A small group of friends journey into the wilderness on a deer hunting trip. During their first night, they encounter flesh eating aliens looking to satiate their growing appetite for an expedient late night snack. This forces the hunters to take shelter in a nearby farmhouse while fighting to survive the night’s extra-terrestrial assault. It’s a premise similar to George A. Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) as well as countless 1980’s slashers.
NIGHT FEEDERS is a lean low-budget romp with very likeable unknown actors. In an interesting turn of events that doesn’t spoil the film’s plot, our hero comes out of nowhere and the film ends in a way I didn’t anticipate. It also leads you to believe there may be a sequel coming and that film endeavor is currently in pre-production some 10 plus years later.
As far as the film’s production goes, NIGHT FEEDERS was shot with a couple of Panasonic DVX100’s. At the time, this was a high-end mini-digital video camera that generally yielded great results. Its biggest limitation, however, was that it didn’t capture true blacks. If you’re shooting a film about campers at night containing a preponderance of darkly lit scenes, this camera’s inadequacy causes problems in post-production, especially when post-production requires a number of computer generated (CG) aliens to be composited into the final film. I’d say that this might be the film’s biggest flaw. The shading on each of the alien creatures is noticeably off and doesn’t lend to the film’s believability. If you’re a stickler for these things, then you might be taken out of the movie when the first CG alien makes an appearance. I am not necessarily a stickler for these things. Well, for the most part, I’m not. I do feel that both the excellent performances from the cast and the strength of the script are solid enough for me to overlook any of the CG shortcomings.
If you can put the micro-budget and CG limitations into perspective when watching NIGHT FEEDERS for the first time, you can really appreciate what director Jet Eller accomplished with this production. The story, while not anything radically new by the time 2006 rolled around, works well due to the adept performances of some relatively inexperienced actors and the craftsmanship of Eller. The film’s ending will have you smiling as the unsung hero rides his Harley Davidson motorcycle (along with his fellow bikers of course) off into the woods looking for more vengeance. NIGHT FEEDERS continues to entertain this writer more than a decade after seeing for the first time. I recommend it for the BBandBC audience.
Contributed by: Mike Murphy