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Bigfoot

a/k/a Big Foot

     "They're practically sub-human, except that they still live like animals!"

-- Joy Landis, plot expositioneer     

 

     

Reviews:

Gonzoid Cinema

 

 

Buzzkillers!

"Nope. No sir. Ain't no Bigfoots 'round here."

 

Watch it!

AMAZON

DVD

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Sights &
Sounds:
Bigfoot
(1970)
 Gemini-American Prod. /
 Ellman Film Enterprises

Newspaper Ads

 

 
Mythical
Monsters
Gone Amok:
Sasquatch
Cinema.

Bigfoot

Shriek of the Mutilated

Sasquatch, the Legend of Bigfoot

The Capture of Bigfoot

Snowbeast

The Revenge of Bigfoot

 
A Good Cast
Deserves a 
Second Bow:
 The Female Bigfoot:
  Gloria Hill
  Nancy Hunter
  Aleshia Lea
 The Hybrid:

   Jerry Marens

 The Evil Bigfoot:

   Nick Raymond

 The Really Big Bigfoot:

   James Stellar

 
 

Our film begins with Joy Landis (Joi Lansing) taking her amazing talents (-- both of them, if you know what we mean and we think you do --) for a solo flight over the wooded Northwest. But not long after take off, her plane develops fatal engine trouble, forcing her to bail out. (And if she happens to land in water, at least she wonít drown with those floatation devices.) She lands safely but barely has time to skin out of her parachute pants and into a form-fitting Star Trek mini-skirt that's slit to her nethers before a very hairy assailant stalks out of the trees and attacks her.

And the credits roll -- and I promise, no more boob jokes...

It was an article in True Magazine that first piqued amateur filmmaker Roger Patterson's interest in the legendary man-ape that allegedly  roamed the forests and mountains along America's Pacific coast back in 1962. His first effort to cash in on this phenomenon was a homemade effort called Does Bigfoot Really Exist, which consisted mostly of newspaper clippings, drawings, and interviews with several eyewitnesses. Soon consumed with capturing the beast on film, after securing funding from his in-laws, Patterson launched an expedition into the Six-Rivers National Forest in Northern California with his partner, Bob Gimlin; the plan was to search the area around Blue Creek Mountain, where people had been reporting sightings and finding tracks since the mid-1950's. And after several weeks of near fruitless searching, on October 20, 1968, the men stumbled onto something near Bluff Creek and captured perhaps the most hotly contested film footage since Mr. Zapruder decided to take his camera to Daley Plaza:

 

Real or not, I have a confession to make. When I was a younger brattling, growing up in the 1970's, the very thought of Bigfoot scared the hell out of me. Stop laughing and let me explain:

Does anyone else remember the Peter Graves hosted documentary The Mysterious Monsters? Well, in it, there's this scene of a lady sitting in front of a large picture window as the shadow of a Bigfoot moves closer and closer to the door -- a window, curtains and couch that bore an uncannily resemblance to the ones in my childhood home. That, and the fact my older brothers convinced me there were Bigfoot living in our shelterbelt of Evergreen trees, had me checking under the bed on a nightly basis. Now, I tend to be a little rough on the '70s but I do recall a time when the country was gripped in a Bigfoot/UFO/Bermuda Triangle frenzy that The X-Files could only dream about. (Is Charles Berlitz still alive? I recall a great documentary on the Triangle as well that they used to show every other day on TBS.) Glory days for the crypto-dork, indeed.

Like it's cousin, the Yeti, who made his big screen debut back in 1957, it wasn't long after Patterson introduced his footage to the masses that America's very own Abominable Snowman wound up on the big-screen with 1970's Bigfoot. And like Patterson's Bluff Creek footage, as you watch it, you might not be sure if what you're seeing is real or some kind of fevered, bad-movie delirium as elsewhere in the wooded vicinity, not all that far from where Joy's plane went down, Jasper B. Hawks and Elmer Briggs, two traveling salesman/con-artists, also have to make an emergency stop when their old Ford station-wagon terminally overheats. After Briggs (John Mitchum) heads off to get some water out of a nearby creek for the radiator, the loitering Hawks (the ageless John Carradine) is nearly run over by a passing gang of motorcycle-riding hooligans -- albeit the most clean-cut band of motorcycle-riding hooligans I've ever seen on film. Meanwhile, near the creek, Briggs finds some strange animal tracks -- more like some very large footprints -- and while filling up the bucket, he hears some very unnatural growling and grunting emanating from the woods. Matching the footprints to whatever is making those guttural shrieks, Briggs doesn't like the forming mental picture and hightails it back to the car, where he confides to Hawks what he's seen and heard, and urges him to get them both the hell out of there.

Up the road a piece, the dapper biker gang first cleans Mr. Bennetís country store out of booze and then motors on up into the mountains. After they've cleared out, Hawks and Briggs limp into the store, where the elder huckster immediately tries to sell Bennet (Ken Maynard) some worthless junk. (And Maynard used to be cowboy star, judging by all the prominent movie posters on the store wall featuring him.) While we leave them to haggle, back on the road, one of the bikers and his old lady split off from the group for some alone time. And after a brief period of fondling and necking, Rick (Chris Mitchum) withdraws and begins working on his bike. With nothing else to do, Chris (Judy Jordan) decides to go exploring, and it isnít long before she stumbles upon what appears to be an ancient Indian burial ground! Yelling at Rick, who isnít the brightest bulb in the world, to come and see what sheís found, he ominously points out how big the graves are, and then proceeds to break B-Movie Cardinal Sin #52 and begins to dig one up to see what kind of a giant is buried in there.

Fortunately, he only finds the corpse of a gorilla costume. Well, itís not really a gorilla costume, but more like a reject costumes of those cave people from Land of the Lost. Unfortunately, for the two young lovebirds, someone in another gorilla costume jumps them, knocks Rick out, and carries the screaming Chris off into the woods. (No Chaka! Bad Chaka! Put her down!) When Rick recovers, with Chris nowhere in sight, he heads back to Bennetís store and calls the authorities. But the Sheriff (James Craig) doesnít believe his fantastic story. (And observe the way his deputy keeps stroking his shotgun. CREEPY.) After the Sheriff hangs up on him, Rick calls up his biker buddies and tells them to come back. Overhearing all of this, Hawks is definitely intrigued by the profitability of capturing one of these creatures and offers to help. Taking all the help he can get, Rick, along with the bickering con men, retraces his steps back to the Bigfoot graveyard. And here, we get the first of many a looooooong walking sequences: they walk, they climb a little, and then walk some more. And as they walk and walk and walk, Hawks claims to be an expert tracker, but truthfully, they're the ones who are really being hunted as the sun goes down!

So what happened to Joy and Chris, you ask? Well, theyíre tied to a couple of stakes at Bigfoot central. And while Chris keeps asking Joy all kinds of plot-specific questions, Joy keeps coming up with scientific theories in perhaps one of the funniest exposition scenes Iíve ever seen: according to ever-postulating Joy, the girls have been captured for breeding stock to help replenish the dwindling Bigfoot population -- and there's already a little half-human, half-Bigfoot critter in the camp that seems to prove her thesis correct! So while Chris is terrified by the prospect of being ravaged by one of the hairy beasts, Joy has the uneasy feeling sheís being saved for something else. Apparently, there is something even worse living higher up in the mountains and she is to be sacrificed to it!

The next morning when the Sheriff visits Bennetís store, the ownerís gone but his daffy daughter, Nellie (Dorothy Keller), fills him in on what happened. (I guess Ken Maynardís contractual obligation was met in the first scene because we never see him again.) The Sheriff still doesnít put much stock in the Bigfoot story, but puts a call in to the Ranger Station anyway. Guaranteed that there is no such thing as Bigfoot, the Rangers end the call with a promise to keep their eyes peeled for the new missing persons. New missing persons? I guess another couple disappeared awhile back -- and that explains where the little half-breed came from.

Okay, in that last scene, while the Ranger was on the phone, there is large window behind him. Of course, as he denies the existence of the creatures, one pops into view. Itís totally telegraphed, you know itís coming, but it still cracked me up. High hilarity. Man. I love this movie. Back to the review!

Proving to be expert trackers, too, Rickís biker buddies quickly find the Bigfoot burial ground. A couple of them chicken out when they see the unearthed corpse but the others press on. Meanwhile, Rick, Hawks and Briggs are still walking. (For what? Like twelve hours now?) Walking. Walking. Walking. Then they walk some more. Then not so suddenly, theyíre ambushed by a horde of walking carpet samples and quickly staked out beside Joy and Chris ... Down the mountain apiece, still on they're trail, the bikers stumble upon a cabin owned by a couple of Indians, Hardrock, and his pal, Slim. (Noble Chissel and Nick Raymond). Next, we get some more history as Hardrock tells them the story of Sasquatch (-- what you people call Bigfoot), and how he lost an arm when he confronted the beast, and while the other bikers listen, Dumb-Dumb (Ray Cantralla) finds some dynamite in the storage shed; then, with there new Indian guides -- seems Hardrock wants a little payback -- they continue the search for their missing friends.

Back at the bigfoot nest, it's finally sacrifice time. Dragged away from the others and up the mountain, Joy is staked out between two trees in a scene that's looking very familiar. And then something horrible, roaring madly, starts crashing through the trees toward her (-- now where have I seen this before?), and the girl screams as the biggest Bigfoot of all breaks out of the woods.

But before the beast can claim his new bride, a bear also comes onto the clearing and sees Joy as light snack before lunch. The bigger Bigfoot intercedes and the two beasts lock in deadly, mortal combat. Well, actually, it's kinda pathetic as the guy in the Bigfoot costume tag teams between combating a bear rug and an old, arthritic and toothless Sun Bear, and they just kinda roll around a bit. *sigh* And as they flop around like a couple of landed fish, Joy manages to free herself and runs away just as the bigger Bigfoot kills the bear (-- which magically grows teeth when it dies, I might point out --) and goes after her.

When the other bikers finally find the rest of the gang and free them, Hardrock starts blasting away and kills one of the smaller creatures. As the beasts scatter, when Hawks catches the little hybrid, he and Briggs try to sneak it away. But another Bigfoot comes to the rescue, stealing the little critter back. Undaunted, Hawks quickly offers a reward to anyone who will help him capture one of the creatures alive. Rick, Chris and Briggs have had enough and head back down the mountain, but the rest take up the offer and the pursuit.

Zeroing in on Joy's scream when the big Bigfoot recaptures her, the posse tracks them to the big Bigfootís cave, where Hardrock caps the beast in the leg, allowing Joy to get away. Wounded badly, the creature ducks into its cave and Dumb-Dumb, despite the fact that he didn't light it, throws the dynamite in after him. The resulting, massive explosion can be heard by all of the locals that weíve met so far, who give pause and look up in astonishment. When the smoke clears it's all over; the monster is either dead or sealed up inside the cave. And as the group slowly retreats back down the mountain, when Dumb-Dumb says the dynamite got him, Hawks thinks otherwise. And as he consoles Joy, offers that, "No. It was beauty killed the beast." (Oh, brother.)

The End

Bigfoot was produced by Anthony Cardoza, which would go a long, long ways in explaining the adverse-effect this movie might have on you. The Jan to Coleman Francisís Jaina, these Wonder Twins of cinematic cheese are probably best known to MST3k fans as the originators of the crap-trifecta Red Zone Cuba, The Skydivers and The Beast of Yucca Flats. Pulling double-duty as both director and screenwriter, Robert F. Slatzer also pulled the same trick on The Hellcats, a tale of "Motorcycle Mamas on a Highway to Hell," but was most notorious for claiming to be married to Marilyn Monroe for three days sometime in late in 1952. Those claim have long since been discredited, but Seltzer still wrote several books on Monroe, including The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe in 1974 and The Marilyn Files in 1992. He was also one of the loudest voices purporting the conspiracy that the Kennedy's murdered Monroe due to her alleged affair with JFK, and later, RFK.

Despite it's origins and who was involved behind the camera, Bigfoot truly is a rare treat. When I do one of these reviews, I usually watch the film at least twice, sometimes more, and most times its like pulling out teeth without the use of any Novocain. But Bigfoot actually got better with each viewing. Somehow, some way, the film just clicked for me -- but damned if I know how.

I guess we could use the Joy Principals, break it down, and look at this scientifically. Let's see: half the film is nothing but walking, while the other half is nothing but establishing shots, slow zooms, pans, and rack focusing of trees. Littered with all kinds of Mitchums, the cast of genre veterans is more than game and do their best to carry the dead-weight material in the script. The Bigfoot costumes are laughable. And itís almost maddening how quickly the film jumps from location shots to soundstage shots and how the day for night filters never quite matches up. But it does make for a great drinking game, where you have to drink whenever they switch from inside to outside and vice versa.

Maybe it was the bizarre organ soundtrack? That sounded like it was lifted from an old silent movie, or perhaps abducted from some vintage porno-loop, complete with a blaring sting whenever anything SHOCKING! happens. Or maybe it was Joy and Chrisís brainstorming on the mating habits of Bigfoot. Or perhaps the sheer insanity of a Bigfoot vs. Biker flick to begin with? I donít know. I may never know. But what I do know for sure is this: as soon as Iím finished typing, Iím gonna go watch it again and laugh my ass off.

Bigfoot (1970) Gemini-American Productions :: Ellman Film Enterprises / EP: Herman Tomlin / P: Anthony Cardoza / AP: Bill Reardon / D: Robert F. Slatzer / W: Robert F. Slatzer, James Gordon White / C: Wilson S. Hong / E: Hugo Grimaldi, Bud Hoffman / M: Richard A. Podolor / S: John Carradine, Joi Lansing, John Mitchum, Christopher Mitchum, Judy Jordan, Ken Maynard

Originally Posted: 05/06/00 :: Rehashed: 05/10/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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