Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Capture of Bigfoot, The (1979)

... aka: Big Foot - Die Rache des Jägers (Big Foot - Revenge of the Hunter)
... aka: La leyenda del Yeti (The Legend of the Yeti)
... aka: Legend of Bigfoot, The

Directed by:
Bill Rebane

♪  Like the timber-lined hard woods... They give way to the spruce and pine... So it is and so it shall be... That every living thing has its place and its time. ♪

Somewhere in the snow-covered mountains of Northern Wisconsin, a pair of redneck trappers capture a small, unfamiliar animal that "smells like decaying flesh." Their joy doesn't last too long as something angry and much bigger shows up to kill one of them and seriously injure the other. The surviving man is rushed off to the hospital and only manages to mumble that his attacker was some kind of "critter" before croaking. A local sheriff (Wally Flaherty) thinks a pack of wolves or a bear may be responsible, but recent sightings of Bigfoot / Abominable Snowman -like beasts, plus a local Indian legend affirming such rumors, prompt superstitious townsfolk to take matters into their own hands. Two armed posses, one good, one evil, are organized and set out into the woods. The former are simply interested in seeing if the fabled animal even exists and the latter hopes to capture it and make money off its discovery.

The Good - Nice guy game warden Dave Garrett (Stafford Morgan) is put in the middle of things by authorities who wants answers. He's helped in his quest by veteran local hunter Jake (George 'Buck' Flower), wise old Indian Daniels (Nelson C. Sheppo) and a little kid named Jimmy (John Eimerman) who's the kid brother of his waitress girlfriend Karen (Katherine Hopkins), a woman whose presence in the film is the biggest mystery of all since she's given nothing of interest to do.

The Bad - Greedy mine owner Marvin Olsen (Richard Kennedy) is the type of heavy who maniacally laughs as he describes his plans and shouts things like "Nobody, NOBODY, is gonna deprive me of what is miiiiine!" So what is his? Well, he believes the Bigfoot is his for some reason. Marv pays a couple of hunters - Jason (Otis Young) and Burt (John F. Goff) - ten thousand dollars to capture the beast. It isn't until his henchmen prove to be useless buffoons that he finally decides to get his hands dirty, which of course leads to his much-deserved downfall. After all, when you run over Buck Flower with a truck, you get what's coming to you.

The Not-So-Ugly - The Bigfoot here are a mythical and mostly docile creature called the "Arak." They were named after a local Indian tribe who held them in God-like regard because they supposedly stood watch over their burial grounds. The Arak are not really the fearsome-looking beasts one may expect. In fact, they're pretty cute with their fluffy, immaculately white fur and hairless, chimp-like faces. These guys only resort to violence when people bother them but have been given a bad rap in the area because they were falsely blamed for the deaths of seven geologists thirty years earlier in one of Marvin's mines. Unfortunately, we don't get to see nearly enough of these guys and the director could have done a much better job making us sympathize with them (as is clearly the intention), which would have turned this into a much better movie overall.

Things pretty much play out exactly like you expect them to aside from the occasional moment of (usually unintentional) hilarity and lots of sincere regional charm. The most memorable bit is a scene at a ski lodge bar where a light rock band with male and female vocalists perform a hilarious song called "Sensuous Tiger." ♪ It makes me hotter than fire. Sends me higher than a kite. Fills me with racing desire. On a blanket of snowy white. ♪ The girl in the red, tight, one piece, stitched-up jumper getting down to the song is Jeana Tomasina. She'd later become a Playboy Playmate, have a short-living acting career in B movies, become one of the ZZ Top girls in their music videos and then marry former Oakland A's pitcher Matt Keough, which eventually landed her a gig on the Real Housewives of Orange County reality series.

Much of this film includes carry-over from Rebane's previous film The Alpha Incident (1978). It too was co-written by Rebane and Ingrid Neumayer, filmed in Wisconsin and starred Morgan, Flower and Goff. Rebane was also the producer, editor, cinematographer (as "Ito") and one of the camera operators and his wife, Barbara J. Rebane, also wore many hats on this production. The baby Bigfoot is played by Randolph Rebane, who I'm guessing is Bill and Barb's son. After its theatrical release, this was issued on VHS here in the States by Active Home Video and then fell into the grubby paws of Troma, who've probably made their money back on it by including it on numerous cheap DVD sets.

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