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.

See No Evil 2 (2014)

Directed by:
Jen Soska
Sylvia Soska

Set the night after the events of the original, this finds morgue attendants Amy (Danielle Harris) and Seth (Kaj-Erik Eriksen), along with crippled security guard Holden (Michael Eklund), working the graveyard shift when the victims from the original bloodbath are brought in. Strangely, no cops ever show up and, considering the magnitude of what's happened and how many bodies are being hauled in, that's not only a highly-unlikely but downright preposterous way to ensure the protagonists are all alone. Among the corpses is Jacob Goodnight (pro wrestler Glenn 'Kane' Jacobs), the hulking "7 foot" psycho who killed nine people due to his religious-fanatic mother's abuse before he was temporarily put out of commission. Jacob doesn't waste any time miraculously springing to life on the slab; no explanation necessary. He has flashbacks to killing his mama, finds a mask and smock and then hacks his way through half a dozen useless characters. After all, if you were a psycho, wouldn't you also want to lash out at innocent people after getting a metal pipe stuck through your eyeball / brain, falling multiple stories through a glass roof, crushing your rib cage, puncturing your heart and then having a dog urinate in the empty eye socket of your dead corpse? I know I sure would.

Since the three morgue employees aren't nearly enough fodder for just one slasher flick, a few of Amy's friends decide to bring the party to her. First off, there's Tamara (Katharine Isabelle), an annoying kooky pervert who gets turned on by dead bodies and coerces her boyfriend (Lee Majdoub) into getting busy next to Jacob's corpse. And then there's Amy's sullen brother Will (Greyston Holt), who disapproves of his sister's line of work, disapproves of his sister's taste in men and basically has some kind of odd obsessive / controlling incestuous fixation on his sis that makes him act more like a creepy ex-boyfriend than a brother. Rounding out the group is Kayla (Chelan Simmons), a flighty blonde who has an unrequited crush on Will. Seeing how Will is infatuated with his own sister, she knows just the right moment to make her move... when he admits she's "like a sister" to him. Ick. None of that really matters since characterization is pretty much nil beyond what I've just written. Though most of the actors do OK with what they have to work with, you still don't care one way or another about any of these people.

The biggest problem with this film is not that it's poorly made per se but that it's completely routine and thus utterly forgettable. Just a few days after watching it, I could barely remember enough to even write a couple of paragraphs about it. A by-the-numbers slasher like this needs to have at least a memorable kill or two, or bring a fresh perspective to the long-played-out formula, and this has neither. It looks pretty much like every other medium-budget film coming down the pike these days, the direction is unimaginative and anonymous, the script is basic and generic, there's not that much blood or gore, there's barely any humor and there's no real suspense, let alone scares. It's just a bunch of unlikable characters running around in dimly-lit stairwells and through hallways for 73 minutes, including several who seem to have no clue how to even leave the building they work in. And I certainly don't buy that the killer managed to chain up every single door and window in this huge building! I'm also not quite sure where he managed to snag miles of heavy-duty steel chain in a mortuary either, nor how he had time to string them everywhere whilst simultaneously stalking and killing the cast, and even quietly hiding out in a room until someone just happens to come in.

After their entertaining previous effort, American Mary (2012), this is sadly a major step back for the Soska sisters. Female horror directors are certainly uncommon, let alone female horror directors who also happen to be twin sisters, but just because these particular filmmakers are women, have a memorable gimmick and take lots of cutesy photos together spattered in blood doesn't mean their films should be graded on a curve. This movie simply isn't very good. And as much as I loved Isabelle in Ginger Snaps and the aforementioned Mary, it pains me to say she comes off really bad in this one. I'm sure she probably sensed how bland the movie was and decided to try to spice things up by going over-the-top but she just comes off as desperate and amateurish in the process. The killer (a mortal man in the first film but suddenly an immortal killing machine in this one) is done entirely in the Jason mold. He's not just immortal, but he also appears to be psychic since he knows just what bathroom one of the ladies is going to try to hide in, just what car the sole survivor owns and will try to use to escape and so forth.

Like the first film, this was a WWE Studios production. They also recently gave us the decent Oculus (2013) and the I-doubt-I'm-ever-gonna-watch-this Leprechaun: Origins (2014), plus threw some more money at the Soska's to make the upcoming action movie Vendetta.

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