MARCH 23, 2012
Folks love to mock guys like Charles Band for recycling footage from older movies and splicing it with a few minutes of newly shot stuff to make a "new" movie, so it's kind of nice to know the practice is quite old. 1976's Curse Of Bigfoot is about 20 minutes of new movie, and all 59 minutes' worth of the wonderfully titled Teenagers Battle The Thing, a 1958 effort that may not have ever been officially released (there's no IMDb page). It's good to know that if I'm ever hard up for ideas I can just shoot a few scenes of myself telling stories and use all the terrible "short films" and such I made in high school as the meat of the story.
Interestingly, the new footage actually has the same actor as Teenagers, giving this a bit of credibility I wasn't expecting. He sort of looks like Ronny Cox from Deliverance in the present day sequences, telling the story of his "Bigfoot" encounter to a class of hilariously bored (or stoned) 70s students. Weirdly, there's no wrapup to these scenes - the movie ends as Teenagers did, still in the 50s as the monster (spoiler!) burns to death as the result of their amazing plan to throw gasoline on the thing and set it on fire. I'd complain that it takes the entire movie for them to figure this out, but the damn "Bigfoot" doesn't wake up until the final 20 minutes, so it's pretty much the only plan they ever try.
You'll notice I'm putting "Bigfoot" in quotes; that's because he's actually an Aztec mummy. See, Bigfoot was a big craze in the 70s thanks to the Patterson-Gimlin film, but not so much in 1958. Oddly, the term was first coined (as "Big Foot") that same year by some folks who discovered some tracks (though this was later proven to be a hoax), but as that was in October of that year the odds are pretty good that Teenagers was already shot. Not that it matters, since it's a Mummy, but it's kind of interesting all the same - maybe the Flocker brothers (director Dave, writer James) noticed the 1958 connection and that's how they got the idea to finally get some use out of their crappy little movie, almost 20 years later.
Anyway, it's pretty dull. Again, it takes forever for the Mum-foot to show up, and it doesn't do a hell of a lot - just lumbers around awkwardly while terrible actors react (or not). Even when it wakes up we're robbed of a cool scene - it's under a blanket, which starts to rise, and the nearest teen just instantly runs off to get his friends. Then they go outside (a scene so dark I began to wonder if the movie was actually just a fever dream I was having) and one of them says "Look! He must have taken off into the grove!" and we just have to take his word for it, because we can barely see who's talking let alone what he's referring to. To be fair, in the original version this would be just past the halfway point, which is pretty standard for a movie of that time, but the Brothers Flocker should have re-edited their original film a bit more to move the early parts along.
Indeed, the runtime is 88 minutes, but the movie is listed as "TV" on the IMDb. If true, how did this fit into a 90 OR 120 minute block? 90 minute blocks required a movie of around 75-78 minutes for commercials, and two hours would be 96 or so. I certainly wouldn't want a LONGER version of this movie, so it seems like it would make more sense to cut another 10 minutes of this padding both in a creative sense (get to the monster!) and a business one (get this thing a 90 minute slot so we can put on a MASH rerun!).
The mask is a wonderful slice of terrible cheese; it appears to be a paper mache attempt at a Wolfman mask, complimented by a suit that can best be described as a beat up full body sweater. I guess it's just serendipity though; it actually looks more like a Bigfoot than any mummy I've ever seen (also good that the original title just called it a "Thing" - you can assume it's whatever the hell you want!). For even more fun, there's the professor's speech early on about "real vs movie" monsters, where he talks about "demonic possession" and "Great white shark" movies, but without actually saying their name lest anyone get in trouble. As if Warner Bros or Universal didn't have anything better to do than fuck with the poor Brothers Flocker, just trying to make some coin off of their lousy, but endearing little "thing" movie.
I should note that the bad acting is another blessing in disguise. See, the monster looks terrible and has no menace whatsoever, so the fact that the "actors" couldn't be bothered to display any real fear when they encounter it actually fits - why WOULD they be afraid of this goofy looking thing? Even after it goes on a killing spree and the cops join in, nothing seems particularly urgent. There's a hilarious bit where a guy says "We should move, it's been a half hour" (or something along those lines) and rather than just take his word for it and spring into action, the cop grabs the guy's wrist and verifies the time for himself, before muttering an acknowledgment and having everyone shuffle off to another area.
In other words - BEST MOVIE EVER.
What say you?