Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hairy Beasts: Bigfoot (1969? 1970?)

This May the agents of M.O.S.S. throw their collective gaze (warning: may turn living matter to stone) toward everything hairy and beastly: King Kong, Feroz Khan's chest and more. To stay up to date on our exploits regarding the matter, you can just follow this handy link.

But there's time for that later. Now, follow me into the wooded mountains of Nowhere, USA, where a trio of bigfoots - bigfeet as we call them in Europe - is kidnapping women, stripping them down to their underwear (or indescribable-wear), and tying them to trees.

First, the hairy gang kidnaps pilot and exposition fairy Joi Landis (Joi Lansing), then they steal Chris (Judy Jordan), "the girl" of kinda-sorta hippie biker Rick (Christopher Mitchum, still young enough to try and move his face). After getting short thrift by the local sheriff, Rick decides to mount his own rescue expedition, getting unexpected help by "comedic" Southern traveling salesmen Jasper B. Hawks (John Carradine in his embarrassing phase) and Elmer Briggs (look, it's Robert Mitchum's little brother John, sporting the sort of facial hair that would nominate this filmlet for the Hairy Beasts project even without the bigfeet!). Now, Jasper may plan on catching himself a bigfoot and get rich through it, but a guy with a gun is a guy with a gun, right?

Turns out hunting bigfeet is more difficult than Rick thought, and it'll need all of his kinda-sorta hippie biker friends, some dy-no-mite, and a lot of walking through the woods to rescue the girls.

Not all that unexpectedly, the month of hairy beasts began a bit painful down here when I thought to myself: "would-be interspecies rapist bigfoot, two Mitchums, bikers, and the living corpse of John Carradine, whatever could go wrong?", and then proceeded to watch Bigfoot, or, as I'd rather call it, Various Groups Of People Walk, Ride, Drive, Or Run Through The Woods Forever.

Now, as even irregular readers of my musings will realize, frequent exposure to films like (the glorious) Don't Go In The Woods…Alone has helped me build up quite a high tolerance for the - oftentimes frightening - sub-genre of the walking-through-the-woods low low budget horror movie, so I feel pretty secure in surviving anything such a film can throw at me without falling asleep. However, Bigfoot is a movie clearly out to show people like me where our limits lie, featuring fifteen (warning: numbers may not be quite exact) boring scene of people moving through the woods for every two boring, static scenes of old coots in front of cheap sets (hello, former western star Ken Maynard in a role that could have been cut like just about everybody else's) mumbling irrelevant nonsense at each other. It's all a bit much, or rather, a bit much of nothing even for my hardened tastes.

It does not help the film's watchability that parts of it seem to be meant as comedic - though I dare not venture a guess which parts specifically beyond the painfully unfunny scenes between Carradine and the elder Mitchum - but as a matter of fact only work as a laxative. Nor are things improved by an acid rock soundtrack that generally has less to do with what happens on screen than the soundtrack of a Los Campeones Justicieros film. Bigfoot is even missing the obligatory soft rock theme song all bigfoot movies are supposed to include (see every other bigfoot movie made in the 60s and 70s).

And even when "director" and "writer" Robert F. Slatzer decides to throw a cult movie fan a bone by including a scene of one of his ratty bigfeet wrestling a bear (I think that's what's happening there, at least - the VHS sourced print I watched wasn't exactly a beacon of clarity), or of Joi Lansing calmly expositing SCIENCE! about the bigfoot as the missing link while tied to a tree and poked by a human/bigfoot hybrid, or the appearance of the big boss bigfoot ("the eighth wonder of the world", Carradine enthuses), he's filming these scenes with such an utter sense of apathy, it's exceedingly difficult to keep oneself awake.

Fortunately, Joi Lansing screeches so much and so loudly during the film's grand finale I woke up again in time. Hooray.

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