Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I've no doubt Bigfoot has cursed this film

Curse of Bigfoot (1978)
Starring: Bob Clymire, Augie Tribach, Bill Simsonson, Jan Swihart, Ruthann Manella, and Ken Koepfler
Director: Don Fields (aka Dave Flocker)
Rating: Zero of Ten Stars

After viewers are subjected to boring stock-footage, a cranky Bigfoot researcher (Clymire) relates the story of how he and a group of high school students inadvertently awakened a monster from ten thousand years (give or take a millennium) of magic-induced slumber.

"Curse of Bigfoot" is one of the most slip-shod movies I've ever had the misfortune of seeing. The fact that Bigfoot appears nowhere in the film is the least of the offenses committed by the filmmakers.

"Curse of Bigfoot" came about when director/producer Dave Flocker took a bad movie he'd made with his brother in 1958, chopped it up a bit, inserted what looks footage from a misbegotten educational film and a little bit of new film involving a high school teacher (Augie Tribach) preparing his class for a visit by his friend and Bigfoot expert Roger Mason. The goal was to bring "Teenagers Battle the Thing" up the minimum length needed for syndication to broadcast television and cash in on what I assume must have been a Bigfoot craze, because there seem to be quite a few films featuring the hairy beast from the late 1970s. The result is a film that stinks worse than a pile of Bigfoot droppings.

If you want to see an example of how not to do a day-for-night shot, this is worth checking out--you will see why you shouldn't shoot footage of the sun shining through the trees if it's supposed to be night.

If you want to see an example of how not to assemble a film from the carcasses of other motion pictures, then this is worth checking out--you'll see why you might want to reserve some time in a sound studio to loop some voice overs, so you don't have the situation where a character says in one scene that he is telling a tale that happened many years ago, but when the flashback starts, a narrator tells us the events happened last year.

If you want to see an example of how not to build suspense through padding your movie, then this is worth checking out--you'll see two yahoos wandering through a forest in a long, loong, looooooooong absolutely pointless sequence, and you'll get to see the world's most well-behaved teenaged boy and girl taking a moonlight stroll through a monster-haunted lemon grove in search of soda pop.

If you want to see a film that features examples of every kind of incompetent filmmaking you can think of, then this is worth checking out.

Somewhere in this fetid garbage pile, there are a couple of good ideas that hadn't quite been done to death in 1958 and which can form the basis for intriguing horror films even now--not to mention do form the basis for three out of five movies with the tagline "A Sci-Fi/Syfy Original Picture." The idea of ancient Native Americans subduing some monstrous creature and binding it in a cave through magical rituals is an intriguing one and the discovery and recovery of the creature is the only vaguely interesting part of the movie. A lot could have been done with this, in the hands of filmmakers who knew what they were doing, but it is unfortunately mostly squandered here.

My desire for the promise held in that ancient monster almost made me inclined to cut this movie some slack. Coupled with the fact that the one bit of serious thought that seems to have gone into the production resulted in the same actor playing the Bigfoot researcher both in the "present" and the "flashback" parts of the film. It's a nice bit of coherence that is otherwise lacking in the production, and it even lends a touch of realism as the actor, like the character he plays, has aged 20 years.

(Near as I can tell, the only film work that Bob Clymire was in this film and in the original "Curse of Bigfoot" production. I could find next to no information on him in the 10-15 minutes I bothered to spend on researching him, but I am curious what his connection is to this production and to the Field/Flocker Brothers. Perhaps this repackage was his idea?)

If you're looking for a teaching aid to demonstrate how not to apply a particular filmmaking technique or how to structure a film, or anything at all, then this is perfect. For everything else, you need to avoid it. And if you ever see it listed in a multi-DVD pack with viewer than ten other films, you need to rethink your purchase.