Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Why ZOMBIES & SHARKS? Well, those are the two things that I’ve had the most nightmares about. It’s the reason I rarely swim in the ocean. It’s the reason I have an escape plan from my apartment just in case of a zombie apocalypse. Now if you’ve ever had those fears or fears like them, inspired mainly by nights upon nights of watching films of the frightening kind, this is the place for you. So look for AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS every Friday for the foreseeable future, horror hounds, where we’ll be covering horror in all forms: retro, indie, mainstream, old and new.
It was this film by Roger Patterson taken in 1967 that spawned it all. Sure the legend of the Bigfoot goes back hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until that controversial film taken in 1967 that catching the elusive creature on film has become an American pastime. Of course, Hollywood wasn’t far behind, churning out movie after movie about Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, the Abominable Snowman, Skunk Ape, or as I like to call him, AICN COMICS @$$Hole editor Sleazy G.
D’oh! Rimshot! Barrrrrrump-bum!
That’s not to say these movies were good. Oh no. For some reason, a good Bigfoot film is harder to find than the actual creature itself, it seems. There have been a lot of stinkers out there starring our furry friend. I know. I've seen a ton of them. But I’m still not giving up hope that they’re going to get it right someday and hopefully, we won’t have to list the movie there on the right as the only big budget, well made Bigfoot film. This week on AICN HORROR, for better or worse, we’re searching for the perfect Bigfoot Horror. Enjoy!
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
Interview with the Zellner Brothers
on SASQUATCH BIRTH JOURNAL 2!
THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK (1972)
CLAWED: LEGEND OF THE SASQUATCH (2005)
SASQUATCH GANG (2006)
THE WILDMAN OF THE NAVIDAD (2008)
And finally…BIGFOOT & WILDBOY!
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): SASQUATCH BIRTH JOURNAL 2 captures the beauty of motherhood as a camera catches a female Bigfoot giving birth. How did you happen upon this footage?
THE ZELLNER BROTHERS (ZB): Several patient weeks were spent in the Pacific Northwest.
BUG: Bigfoot has been the subject of many, many films. Do you have a favorite Sasquatch movie?
ZB: We're obviously huge bigfoot fans. Our all-time favorites include the Patterson-Gimlin film, THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK, and YETI: GIANT OF THE 21st CENTURY.
BUG: What is the story behind SASQUATCH BIRTH JOURNAL 2? Is it to be a found footage document? A snippet of a larger story? Or something else altogether?
ZB: It was a project in gestation for a long time, and is to be a profound, intimate portrait of the Sasquatch unlike anything seen before.
BUG: In all seriousness, what kind of research went into making SASQUATCH BIRTH JOURNAL 2?
ZB: Authenticity, from a scientific standpoint, was our top priority from the start. We consulted several experts in the field of anthropology to make sure we nailed the subtle nuances of the distinctive Sasquatch birthing ritual.
BUG: I'm not sure. Was there a SASQUATCH BIRTH JOURNAL 1 or are there plans to make that installment?
ZB: There is a SASQUATCH BIRTH JOURNAL 1 currently in postproduction, which is a different take on a similar theme. It's going to be a twenty-four minute real-time interactive video installation.
BUG: How about a third installment?
ZB: Who knows?
BUG: Can you give me a little bit of info about your background in film?
ZB: We've been making films since we were little and started to get some recognition in the mid-2000's with a handful of short films(all of which can be seen at zellnerbros.com). At Sundance 2008 we premiered our feature "GOLIATH" which was picked up by IFC. Since then we've made some music videos and a web series called "FIDDLESTIXX".
BUG: Can you talk a bit about the effects in this short film? They look extremely authentic.
ZB: As mentioned above, authenticity and accuracy were our top priority. Though controversial, for sake of realism we found it a necessity to have the Sasquatch baby played by an actual human newborn.
BUG: The actor playing the Sasquatch did a fantastic job. What kind of direction do you give a person in a Sasquatch suit that is giving birth while standing in a tree?
ZB: In addition to hours of rehearsal, we emphasized patience, focus, balance, squat-training and a DVD Lamaze course.
BUG: Do you believe Sasquatch is real?
ZB: We want to believe, therefore we believe.
BUG: What has been the reaction of folks who have seen this short film?
ZB: It's been fantastic, reactions have included guffaws, befuddlement and ecstasy. We're eager to share it with a wider audience online.
BUG: What's next on the horizon for the Zellner Brothers?
ZB: We have a couple of new features we're excited to have underway.
BUG: Best of luck at Sundance. SASQUATCH BIRTH JOURNAL was hilarious and fun.
ZB: Thanks for the support.
BUG: Thanks so much for your time.
Want to see SASQUATCH BIRTH JOURNAL 2 yourself? Well, here it is in all it’s goofy glory!
Being a believer, I must see every Bigfoot movie out there. I’ve seen the good, I’ve seen the bad, and I’ve seen the awful. Here are a couple of Bigfoot films that may not be perfect, but may be of interest to the Bigfoot enthusiast. For the sake of comparison, let’s measure these Bigfoot films by feet; 10 FOOTS being the best and 1 FOOTS being the worst.
BIGFOOT (1970)Directed by Robert F. Saltzer, Written by Robert F. Saltzer & James Gordon White
Starring John Carradine, Joi Lansing, Judy Jordan, John Mitchum, & Nick Raymond as the Evil Bigfoot
A campy mess of a film that is more likely to bore you to death than scare you to death. John Carradine classes up the joint barely as a travelling salesman who happens through a woodland town around the same time a biker gang does. When the biker gang’s voluptuous women are stolen, all fingers point to Bigfoot. Line deliveries of the drabbest kind, BIGFOOT is not to be taken seriously. Apparently, Bigfoot has been abducting and raping women for years and has a whole brood of half Bigfoot/half buxom woman offspring and all of them like to ape around and wear floppy monkey suits and bad masks. Not sure this can even be categorized in the “so bad it’s good” category. The big battle between bikers and the Bigfeet is unintentionally funny. The main Bigfoot is a mean fucker who beats things with sticks and stones and ties women up to trees, while the little Bigfeet are even more disturbing to watch due to the unmoving masks they all are wearing. The poster brags, “The most realistic horrifying film ever!”…uhm…not so much. The tagline, “America’s Abominable Snowman breeds with anything…” is even more disturbing. Director Saltzer seems to be going for a KING KONG vibe here. I guess the camp factor makes this somewhat worth while, but if you’re looking for a good Bigfoot flick, keep searching…
BIGFOOT = 3 FOOTS!
THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK (1972)Directed by Charles B. Pierce
Written by Earl E. Smith
Starring Vern Stierman, William Stumpp, Willie E. Smith, & Bigfoot as Himself
Retro Reviewed by Ambush Bug
”I was seven years old when I heard it scream. I scared me then and it scares me now.”
After about five minutes of silent montage, THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK finally begins with those ominous words. THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK is like no other film I know. Part travelogue, part horror film, part musical, part nature show; the film has a little bit of everything. Though it was filmed on an ultra low budget with a Bigfoot-like creature that (when looked at in freeze frame) looks like a Halloween gorilla suit one might find in a pharmacy, THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK still, somehow, is one of the favorite movies of all time when it comes to Squatch-heads. I think a lot of that appeal has to do with the amateur way the film was shot. You never really see the monster close up. The Fouke Monster as it is called in the film, is always seem from a distance or through a thicket of trees and bushes. This monster is a mystery to this little corner of the world and remains one right up until the end.
I think the biggest appeal this film has can be attributed to nostalgia. It’s a film I saw as a kid on video and it terrified me. But upon seeing it again recently, I wonder why it caused a mere shudder. THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK is presented in a mockumentary style travelogue way that for the most part lacks any form of narrative. It’s a series of encounters recounted by people who have crossed paths with the beast. Aside from the Fouke Monster itself, this film has no real star. If there is a shred of linear storytelling going on, it’s held together by the narrator whose Jack Handy voice reminded me of the old Disney documentaries, but even the narrator’s part is only made substantial at the beginning and at the end (though I did find the words spoken in the end to be haunting regarding a grown man looking upon a harrowing experience with the creature).
So no story, no star, no plot, what’s the appeal? Well, there is some of the coolest, hokiest music you’ll probably ever find in a horror film. Take a listen to this little ditty called “Hey Travis Crabtree” describing one typical boy doing typical boy things…
And what about this little jingle talking about the wonders of nature…
Makes you want to draw a happy little tree, don’t it? The soundtrack to BOGGY CREEK is so painfully wholesome, it stings. Yet somehow it rocks and I can’t stop humming it for days after (I actually still am singing, “Hey, Travis Crabtreeeeeeee” …please help me!).
But this isn’t all sunshine and waterfalls, there are a few very tense snippets in this film as the Fouke Monster attacks houses and country folks. This isn’t the noble savage or gentle beast that is portrayed in other Bigfoot films. This is not a nice monster. You know this because it likes to reach through screen windows and has a tendency to scare kittens to death! Though the closest we get to the creature is when he breaks through the screen of a cabin, there is a real sense of terror in those night scenes. But still, the hokiness of the amateur acting and the gorilla suit do its best to chill those thrills.
If anything, THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK does serve as a means to feature some gorgeous American landscape of swamps, countrysides, and pastures. Though the monster isn’t scary, the story is piecemeal and the songs are hokey as can be, there’s a sense that we’re catching an honest glimpse of a genuine land filled with genuine people whose belief in this creature in their swamps is palpable. That sense of reality makes this film hit home pretty effectively and its why, despite all of its shortcomings, THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK lives on.
THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK = 8 FOOTS for sheer nostalgic charm.
CLAWED: LEGEND OF THE SASQUATCH (2005)AKA THE UNKNOWN
Directed by Karl Kozak, Written by Karl Kozak & Don J. Reardon
Starring Jack Conley, Miles O’Keefe, Dylan Purcell, Brandon Henschell, Chelsea Hobbs & Ken Scott as The Bigfoot
A spikey haired jock, a floppy haired nerd, and two chicks venture out into the woods to investigate endangered species for a school project in a nearby woods and run into an ancient creature of myth. Pretty much sums up CLAWED: LEGEND OF SASQUATCH, another lackluster Bigfoot installment in the long line of hum drum Bigfoot films. It’s not that this is a necessarily bad film…ok, it is a bad film. Apart from some pretty gory scenes of Bigfoot tearing out the throats of some hunters, this is some low grade fare that makes some SyFy flicks great by comparison. Director Karl Kozak tries to be creative with some black and white Bigfoot vision which isn’t very scary or exciting. The acting is ok, but nothing to scream about. Once again, the film is set to JAWS with the tourist season endangered with the attacks and there’s a mayor who does everything he can to keep the deaths under wraps. Long-time character actor Jack (LA CONFIDENTIAL, FAST & FURIOUS, PAYBACK) Conley does his best here, but can’t save the film. There are plenty of stereotypical hick hunters wanting to take matters in their own hands and of course, the noble Native American who sheds a single tear when no one listens to him about this “gentle” giant. This film gets a foot or two for the Sasquatch costume, which looks a bit buff and superhero-ish, but is nicely done. The one thing I did like about this one is that they categorize the Sasquatch as a noble savage rather than a rampaging monster.
CLAWED: LEGEND OF THE SASQUATCH = 2 FOOTS, 5 TOES!
SAVAGE (2009)Directed by Jordan Blum
Written by Jordan Blum, Lynn Drzick, Nancy Gideon, & DJ Perry
Starring Martin Kove, Tony Becker, Lisa Wilcox, Anna Enger, Shane Callahan, & Jack Harrison as the Bigfoot
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
SAVAGE’s premise is a winner; when wildfires rage through the forest, it forces all kinds of animals to relocate, including a giant beast of legend…a bigfoot.
See, hearing that makes my toes tingle. My mind races of shots of raging fires. Rabbits, deer, bears, and birds fleeing falling timbers and clouds of thick black smoke. In my mind, I’m seeing BACKDRAFT meets DAY OF THE ANIMALS with BIGFOOT! I see a final showdown in a flaming forest with our hero and an angered Sasquatch. That movie would be the shit! Am I right?!?!
That…that is not this movie.
To give director Jordan Blum credit, he is working with a limited budget and he makes the best of what he does have. There are some pretty nicely paced shots of action and tension as the pissed off Bigfoot attacks anyone to cross his path. There’s a really nicely shot chase scene in the woods where CGI is used to show Bigfoot running that I haven’t seen before in a Bigfoot film. The Bigfoot runs in a more bestial manner, using his arms and legs when he runs. There’s also a very cool scene where the beast breaks through the window, reminiscent of the classic Bigfoot film, THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK. I like it that Bigfoot moves through the trees and hangs his prey there like a lion. And the opening sequence is very well done, setting the tone that this is a director who knows how to put together an original action sequence. All good stuff. These scenes show ingenuity and spunk despite a limited budget.
This is nowhere near a perfect film though. The acting ranges from decent to sub par. Talkback hero Martin “Fear does not exist in this dojo!” Kove chews the scenery as the Quint-like character in this JAWS with big feet story and Tony Becker has a down home charm that makes his role as the local forest ranger feel genuine (even though I don’t think there’s a scene without him holding a coffee cup…and he’s in half the movie!). On the other hand, out of place Anna Enger looks like she wandered off a runway and into the woods and Shane Callahan does an annoying John Cusack impression for the entire movie as a science guy researching the monster. Jack Harrison plays the Bigfoot with menace and power though; the Bigfoot scenes being the highlight of the film.
With a bit of spit and polish, this could be a pretty good film. The pacing is off. Scenes linger a bit and a good editing would do wonders. The story almost makes sense, but some better actors would sell it a bit better. Like I said, there’s a JAWS plot here that doesn’t have the impact it should, but is fun just the same. In the end, SAVAGE gets points for a cool premise, some decent acting from some, and more than a few nice Bigfootin’ scenes—a lot of which can be seen in the trailer below.
SAVAGE = 6 FOOTS, 5 TOES!
AKA THE SASQUATCH DUMPLING GANG
Directed & written by Tim Skousen
Starring Justin Long, Joey Kern, Jeremy Sumpter, Hubbel Palmer, John Gries, Jon Heder, & Carl Weathers
Warning: No Sasquatches appear in this film.
Not really a Sasquatch film per se. It’s a comedy about a Sasquatch hoax and though it’s not a horror film, it’s probably the most entertaining Bigfoot film I looked at this week. Sure, the main kid actors are not the best, but SASQUATCH GANG had me rolling every time the mulleted Justin (JEEPERS CREEPERS) Long and the shirtless Joey (CABIN FEVER) Kern appeared on camera. Long and Kern are the best parts of this film as a pair of lovable losers who think planting Sasquatch turds and footprints in the woods of their hick town will somehow bring them millions of dollars and bucket loads of fame. Jon Heder appears briefly as a Laser Tag arena attendant. John (MONSTER SQUAD…you know, the possessor of Wolfman’s nards) Gries is the bumbling sheriff. And Carl Weathers makes an appearance as a Bigfoot hunter. When a pair of cosplay dweebs and a nebbish girl who wires her mouth shut to lose weight find the tracks before Long & Kern alert the media, the kids become famous overnight. But plot is secondary here. This film surprised me huge amount of humorous one offs and gags throughout, despite the low budget. While most of the laughs in Bigfoot films are usually unintentional, it was refreshing to see one that’s intent was to induce chortles. See this one for Long and Kern. They’re hilarious.
SASQUATCH GANG = 7 FOOTS!
THE WILDMAN OF THE NAVIDAD (2008)Directed by Duane Graves & Justin Meeks
Written by Justin Meeks & Duane Graves
Starring Justin Meeks, Alex Garcia, Jean Rogers, Charlie Hurtin, Bob Wood, & Tony Wolford as the Wildman!
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
I saved the best for last. By far, THE WILDMAN OF THE NAVIDAD is the best Bigfoot film I’ve ever seen. It is a admitted homage to LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK, but improves on all of the faults that film possesses and sprinkles in a grindhouse feel that makes it an instant classic. Though not a remake of that classic Squatchploitation film, you can’t watch THE WILDMAN OF THE NAVIDAD without seeing the similarities.
Like THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK, this film claims to be based on fact. The first frame of this film is exactly the same as BOGGY CREEK in that it claims that the actual people and places were used in many instances in making this film. But unlike BOGGY CREEK, which was steeped in hokey acting, goofy songs, and bad costumes, THE WILDMAN OF THE NAVIDAD replaces that entire goof factor with filth, grit and highly detailed carnage. Everything that made you chuckle in THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK is substituted with a real sense of drama and dread in WILDMAN. There are no hokey songs. No montages of riverbeds and birds tweeting about. No rubber faced monsters and piss poor reactions to said visages. THE WILDMAN OF THE NAVIDAD’s intention is to be as real as possible.
Also unlike BOGGY CREEK, WILDMAN has a damn powerful story at play here. Based on the “wretched, but entirely true” journals of Dale S. Rogers, the story follows Dale as he loses his job as a welder and out of need for money for his disabled wife, must open up his acreage to hunters after years of forbidding folks to hunt on his property. The thing is, Dale has been placating a beast that wanders the riverbanks in the forested areas of his land with offerings of food laid on a plate behind his house. When Dale opens his land for hunters, it disturbs the dormant creature and what ensues is carnage on a savage and brutal level.
This film is produced by Kim Henkel who also was one of the creators behind THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. WILDMAN is equally an homage to that film in that it replicates the highly detailed locales littered with tiny details such as mysterious things in jars, bones hanging from strings and swaying in the breeze, and the down-home grit that TCM showcased so well. There’s a gritty layer of sleaze on this movie that can’t wash off. Henkel’s involvement and director/writers Duane Graves and Justin Meeks appreciation for this type of film shows in every frame. The directing team shot this film on a bare-bones budget, going for realism above all else and using non-actors whenever possible. Not all of the lines delivered by the actors are the most capable, but their look and presence makes this film seem all the more authentic.
WILDMAN is littered with amazing moments. There’s a tension filled scene where a hunter it sitting in a tree stand and is attacked from below by the monster. We see slight glimpses of the beast as it breaks the supports of the stand until it topples to the ground. Then the beast makes his way to the fallen hunter and rips him to shreds with its antler claws as a train passes by in the background. Just an amazing scene. The film also has moments of more subtle horror as Dale’s wife’s caretaker abuses her both physically and sexually behind Dale’s back. Seeing the shirtless and sweaty orderly fondle the invalid woman is not a pretty sight and will probably make people cringe as much as the Wildman itself.
The Wildman may not technically be a Bigfoot, but it is a mysterious, hairy figure that sparked fear-filled legends throughout a small community. The design of this creature is truly awesome. The Wildman could have very well looked goofy, but there isn’t a single moment in this film that he is anything but terrifying. With his mounds of fur pelts draped over his broad shoulders and head and sharp antler claws jutting from each arm, this Wildman is the stuff of pants-shitting night terrors.
Sitting through all of these Bigfoot films to make this column this week, I finally found one worth recommending whole heartedly and revisiting over and over. Duane Graves and Justin Meeks (who also stars in this film as Dale S. Rogers) do a fantastic job with very little. Their creative technical skills, risky and bold storytelling, perverted details, and unflinching eye for grit and horror make this team one whose next project I will watch for with a keen eye. THE WILDMAN OF THE NAVIDAD is about as perfect a Bigfoot film I’ve seen so far. It owes a lot to previous efforts in the sub-genre, but it adds a layer of horror and realism that most of the rest lack. Still looking for that absolute perfect Bigfoot film, but as far as scoring goes, THE WILDMAN OF THE NAVIDAD gets 9 FOOTS 5 TOES!
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Expect more Sasquatchonian goodness in future AICN HORROR Bigfoots Columns.
And finally, just when I thought I’d seen it all, I find this. I simply have to find episodes of this series. Until then, I’ll just marvel at the opener over and over and over again…Here’s BIGFOOT & WILDBOY!
Oh jesus…oh god. It’s so awesome! Want more? Me too!
See ya, next week, folks!
Find more AICN HORROR including an archive of previous columns on AICN Horror’s Facebook page!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the names to purchase)!
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