JANUARY 29, 2008
Should I set up a new genre tag for Sci-Fi original movies? I mean, they’re all bad, but you gotta rate them on a totally different level. You can’t expect a movie like Sasquatch Mountain (called Devil on the Mountain on the film itself – whatever) to live up to all the great theatrically released Sasquatch movies, like... uh... you know, um.. the uh... guy there... with the fur and the things...
OK, as far back as I can recall (last Thursday), there are no good Sasquatch movies, theatrically released or not, except for Abominable. And that one works because it’s like a typical suspense thriller, albeit with a Sasquatch, and has some great gore gags and looks like it cost a hell of a lot more than it did. Interestingly, this film is similar to Abominable in a few ways. One, both have Lance Henriksen, a Howard (Clint in Abominable, here we get Rance), and a modern scream queen (Tiffany Shepis there, Cerina Vincent here). And both have great scores, for the record.
The other similarity is the surprising amount of character development and just genuine “giving of a shit” in the script. It would be easy to just have a bunch of folks get picked off one by one by a guy in a giant monkey suit (see, or not, Sasquatch Hunters), but instead writer Michael Worth took the time to give some backstory, play out some melodrama, etc. It’s not Shakespeare, but I must admit that seeing a touching man to man talk between Rance and Lance (hey they rhyme!) in the middle of a monster movie is endearing (not to mention the fact that it’s probably the only action/horror movie where the 3 male heroes have an average age of about 70).
Unfortunately, the filmmaking more or less puts all of their efforts in vain. For some goddamn reason, director Steven Monroe and DP Neil Lisk shot the film as if it were a lost Bourne sequel, with nonstop handheld camera, jerky zooms and pans, and horrendously overused blue filters:
That’s actually one of the more tolerable examples, some scenes legitimately look like you are watching them through Smurf poop. I don’t know why the felt the need to shoot the film this way, as it doesn’t really make any cinematic sense (shouldn’t the woods in the middle of the day look more orange?) and it just looks bad to boot. It may sound strange, but there’s actually a skill involved in giving a film an improvised feel; this skill is not evident here.
There’s also maybe a bit too much character stuff, and not enough monster. Maybe it was a budgetary limitation (the cast must have eaten a bigger than usual size of the Sci-Fi budget, since most of them are recognizable – Craig Wasson from Nightmare 3 and Tim Thomerson also stop by!), but there’s only about 5 minutes of sasquatch in the film. And these scenes are pretty much always the same: two characters begin fighting over money or whatever, and then the Sasquatch comes out and kills one or both of them. You start to get the impression that if everyone just mellowed out and got along, the damn thing would never show up at all. At least the Ice Spiders made their presence known throughout the running time.
Also, the DVD mastering tries its best to make you hate the film. The chapter selection menu doesn’t have a “back” option, so if you skip the page you want you have to go back to the main menu and start over. The presentation is non-anamorphic, not a big surprise, but even more detrimental than usual since the compression is atrocious:
And along with the afore-mentioned confusion over the name of the goddamn thing, it also begins with the credit “Curb Entertainment Presents” and then “A Curb Entertainment Production”. Redundancy aside, how do you present your own fucking production?!?!? Don’t waste my time with duplicate title cards!
The making-of featurette is surprisingly laid-back and features lots of ‘bloopers’ (including the guy playing the Sasquatch explaining that the beast is “half man, half human”). Thomerson tells the camera guy to fuck off, which is pretty awesome (then later he appears to be high). Lance is shown talking to the director about his character, which is sort of sad since the director is clearly more interested in adding blue filters to everything than making a film that lives up to the script and performances (which are pretty good across the board). For some reason, the clips in the making of are shown at 2.35:1 (which is the ratio the IMDb lists the film as having) when the film itself is 1.85:1 – but I investigated and found that the film itself has more visual information at the top and bottom than in the featurette, so you’re not missing any valuable blue imagery. Hurrah!
What say you?