Search For The Beast (1997)

APRIL 7, 2010


Why are so many Bigfoot/Sasquatch movies about a professor? Granted it’s a legend, but so is the Chupacabra - I don’t always see professors in those movies. So like the guys from Night of the Demon and Boggy Creek II before him, the hero of Search For The Beast (seemingly only available in a 4 film set titled Bigfoot Terror) is a professor who seeks “the truth” about the monster that has killed nearly 50 people, though he just wants to prove it exists, and is opposed to stopping it (way to stick up for human life, prick).

Actually, I guess this isn’t too surprising, because halfway through the movie, the hunters (dubbed “rough gazoonies”) who are supposed to be backing him up suddenly leave him for dead and kidnap his girlfriend (actually his half-his-age assistant, who he fucked the night before after “saving her life”, an event that is apparently none of our business because I had no idea what the hell she was referring to). Why they do this is anyone’s guess, but it’s the epitome of good storytelling compared to later, when he starts killing the guys effortlessly. He’s a professor and assassin, I guess. He even shoots one guy in the face!

These scenes, of course, seemingly exist for no other reason than to keep Bigfoot off-screen for as much as possible. Whereas Suburban Sasquatch’s filmmakers didn’t let their awful Bigfoot costume deter them from having him kill someone every 5-10 minutes, R.G. Arledge and Rick Montana (who I suspect are the same guy - IMDb has Arledge as the director (his only credit) but the film credits Montana with directing, while giving Arledge writing/producing credits) keep "their" awful guy in a suit (zipper IS visible at times, if you were wondering) off-screen for most of the film, and when he DOES appear it’s usually in footage that seems to be from another movie entirely. Our heroes are usually in dense forests, but Bigfoot usually wanders around in open fields. The footage itself is also different - he moves in a strobe-like fashion, as if he was shot at a different frame rate.

And where SS, terrible as it may be, was at least coherent and made by someone with at least the most basic understanding of how to make a film, this thing is a mess in every conceivable way a film can be considered as such. Montana often cuts to things of no discernible relation to what is going on, like a frog sitting peacefully on a stump as we’re about to reveal a corpse (killed, presumably, by Bigfoot, not the frog). He also apparently took “non-linear editing” to a whole new meaning, putting scenes out of order throughout the film; in addition to the aforementioned “you saved my life” line (prior to any sort of action whatsoever), he also has a shot of the bad guys and the kidnapped girl walking along the woods, including one that died a few minutes earlier. And it takes him at LEAST five cutaways to a framed photograph of a kid with a mullet for him to finally get around to explaining why the fuck he is cutting to a framed photograph of a kid with a mullet (it’s the photograph owner’s son, who Bigfoot killed).

It’s an aural nightmare as well. Canned sounds of wildlife will often play for no reason over dialogue (best bit: a girl asking if her boyfriend “heard that”, to which he replies that it was “probably a squirrel” - the entire scene has a loud bird squawking over it), and at one point the professor/murderer is chased by a bunch of what I assume are phantom dogs, as we sure as hell never see even a Montanian cutaway of a sleeping dachshund. But the real highlight of his borderline experimental approach to sound design is how he begins saying lines, not even remotely matched to the source audio, over shots of his character walking around and clearly not talking. Maybe it’s all supposed to be in his head for the most part (some, like “Be careful on these rocks, they’re wet and slippery”, are clearly supposed to be spoken dialogue though), but either way it’s awkward and laughable, because we hear reactions to pretty much every single thing he sees and does. “Oh good, water. It tastes so good,” he “says” as he reaches a brook. And when he finds his girlfriends panties (?), he comments about how good they smell.

But there’s probably really only one question on your mind: “Is there a scene where Bigfoot kills some never-before-seen guy who is taking his cheerleader girlfriend from behind in the middle of the woods, only to take the guy’s place without the girl seeming to notice or mind? And does she actually seem to enjoy it more?” The answer to both questions is yes. But true to fashion, even this vile/awesome scene is sort of botched, because it comes out of nowhere with 5 minutes left of the film, too late for it to work as a “taste” of what should be a rousing 3rd act, and too early to be a “funny” closing scene that will send the audience out of the theater (OK, living room) in a good mood. I guess Montana feels that Bigfoot rape can work anywhere in a film, without any regard for things like pace, narrative flow, etc.

Of course, all of this made for a terrific HMADLiveTweet (as did the length - 69 minutes flew by!), where I didn’t always have time to address the completely inept nonsense on the screen. I was still so amazed by the Bigfoot lovin’ that I missed the actual ending, which seemed to suggest Bigfoot was working with one of the locals (it was so dark I couldn’t even understand what was going on, other than the fact that the film ended with a naked woman chained up and crying - fun for the whole family!). And Twitter itself behaved this time, going the entire 70 minutes without crashing or telling me I had tweeted too much. And at least six of you were playing along at some point or other, which is great! I will be doing another soon - but I’m not sure if I can ever top this movie in terms of being such an easy flick to lampoon.

What say you?

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


  1. You are so brave--I didn't see it through. I admit I have a kind of Bigfoot movie amnesia. Every time a new one comes out, I have to see it, and yet there just are only a couple that have ever been worth a dime! I keep hoping...

  2. The fact that bigfoot's eyes were bugging out like he was strung out, really troubled me. But overall it was very fun to take part in HMAD live tweet.

  3. When watching this I really felt like they were trying to make a Bigfoot-themed softcore porn movie, but then figured it was so "awesome" that they'd just make it into a actual horror movie, so they just added some other random stuff.

  4. I've seen this. I think Bigfoot was really a hillbilly in a monkey costume, who kidnaped girls and raped them.



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