JULY 4, 2012
Earlier this year I watched Snowbeast, which was a TV movie about a Bigfoot-esque monster attacking a ski resort. It wasn’t great, but it had its charms and was probably a rarity for horror “movie of the week” entries, most of which tackled more suburban terrors. This is of course in stark contrast to Bigfoot, Syfy/Asylum’s new movie that is pretty much par for the course, as they’ve done many Bigfoot movies (or similar monsters) over the years, and you could replace him with a giant alligator or whatever and the movie wouldn’t be any different than anything else they air.
In fact the movie has a lot in common with Jersey Shore Shark Attack, right down to the cameo from a musician who argues about having to play this cheap show, that it’s beneath them, etc, only to be killed by the monster as soon as they go up on stage. Except in Jersey it was Joey Fatone (who probably DOES open events like this nowadays), but here, it’s Alice Cooper, who may not be as popular as he used to be but certainly wouldn’t be caught playing some local festival for a crowd of what appears to be 27 people. He also suffers the indignity of whipping along with a generic rock track (no vocals) performed by some random high school kids. Even as a joke, it’s just depressing.
It also retains that movie’s sense of fun and fast-ish pace, though it’s much less successful (relative terms here) overall due to the fact that the monster is so abysmally presented. While the sharks didn’t look THAT bad for the most part, Bigfoot looks atrocious throughout the movie – not a SINGLE shot can be considered passable. The usual problems are all here (he changes size from scene to scene, recycled/repetitive FX shots, etc.) but they actually manage to create a new one – a total lack of blood. People are torn in half, heads are eaten, etc, but there’s just a black void where blood should be. It’s kind of disturbing, it’s as if the residents of Deadwood, South Dakota were nothing but life-sized action figures or something. Bigfoot also appears way too often - the movie is only 20 seconds old before he makes his first appearance; even the stoned/non-discerning Syfy crowd could probably go 5-10 minutes without seeing him before getting antsy. They could at least have a traditional “killed by SOMETHING” open to preserve the surprise for a few minutes, which could also spare the clearly under-qualified (or under-budgeted) FX guys one or two more shots.
In fact, that’s the weirdest thing about the movie – it’s a Bigfoot story without any mystery at all. No one really doubts the existence of the damn thing, and it’s not long before he’s rampaging around with regularity anyway, so most of the narrative is given to “How can we stop it?” without a moment of “What could be doing this?”. Some folks want to kill it, others want to capture it for science, others want to turn him into a tourist attraction, but none seem particularly surprised that a 40 foot beast is trying to kill them. On that note, none of them seem to question how they have gone this long without seeing it, since it doesn’t seem particularly interested in keeping a low profile, nor is there any sort of scene of it being woken up or uncovered – he’s just THERE.
To make up for the shitty appearance of the only reason most people would watch the movie, they have assembled a rogue’s gallery of 70s folks here. In addition to Alice Cooper, we have Barry Williams and Danny Bonaduce as the two main characters, who are always at each other’s throats and presumably delighting us with the idea of a Brady Bunch-er squaring off against one of the Partridge Family. They mock each others’ stalled careers via a series of increasingly “meta” jokes until Williams finally has enough and borrows some guy’s guitar in order to smash it over Bonaduce’s head. Why the guy he took it from doesn’t get up and kick both of their asses over the destruction of his property (and livelihood, I would imagine) is left unexplained, but at least the scene offers some action sans horrendous CGI. Howard Hesseman also pops up as the Mayor, and original Willard Bruce Davison plays the sheriff, who gets the movie’s lamest death – Bigfoot just sort of pushes a car into him and pins him against a tree.
If the 70s aren’t your thing, maybe the movie King Kong is? Not only does it borrow the halfway point “Let’s capture it and make it a tourist attraction” idea (though here none of their plans to subdue him actually work), but the finale is a direct rip as well, with the film’s numerous cutaways to Mt. Rushmore finally paying off as Bigfoot climbs up one of the Presidents’ faces, fighting off assorted aircraft trying to stop him. However he is impervious to bullets, and thus the only way they can kill him is to fire a rocket launcher at him, killing him and Lincoln’s face as well (and here we thought Vampire Hunter would be the least respectful thing to happen to his legacy this month).
So who is responsible for this silliness? Jim Wynorski? Fred Olen Ray? One of the Asylum regulars? Nope, none other than Davison himself, inexplicably making this his second directorial effort in a lengthy career that usually finds him in front of the camera. Not sure why a respected Oscar nominee is wasting his time calling the shots on this sort of junk, where it seems anyone who asks can get the job, but it adds another point or two of novelty to the whole thing. Not sure how well anyone could do with such a repetitive script (90% of Bigfoot’s scenes have him running down a street and then swatting a CGI car or person away) and two lead actors that are basically jokes, but he does an OK enough job I guess. Kudos to him (or the screenwriters, or a random PA) for coming up with the movie’s only really fun kill – someone is inspecting his oversized footprint when he comes along and stomps down on the same spot, (bloodlessly) crushing them. A Bigfoot who retraces his own steps!
Final note – was this intended to premiere on Syfy? The commercial breaks were oddly placed, more often than not they’d go to commercial on a moment that in no way would inspire anyone to keep watching (a “dun dun DUNNNN” moment, as it were), which is very unlike them. Usually I can tell when the commercials are about to start so I know to grab my remote and fast forward them (or, if I’m watching live, grab my phone and tweet something “witty” about it), but here I was constantly at a loss. Shame that it’s the only thing about the movie (besides Davison’s directing credit) that I can consider a surprise.
What say you?