It’s February – Women in Horror Recognition Month – and I can’t help but think how lucky we’ve been to get to work with some incredibly talented women on this project – From popular horror names like Jessica Cameron and Lynn Lowry to my sister-in-law, Rachel Meyer, who creates most of the make-up and props that make our film our scary, and also keeps our shoots from imploding. Were it not for Rachel, The Legend of Grassman would be me and Dennis out in a field with a cardboard Bigfoot.
A couple months ago on Facebook, I met one of the official ambassadors for this year’s Women in Horror Month, Jovana Dimitrijevic. She’s a Serbian filmmaker who’s in preproduction on a feature version of her short film Women’s Court and runs the Girls Can Do Horror Facebook page.
She had contacted me about another non-horror project I’m working on. Our conversation naturally turned to horror movies – her movie, my movie, other people’s movies. She told me she preferred classic atmosphere and suspense to modern gore and showed me a clip of a Serbian horror film she loved as a kid and naturaljeroijg—
WHAT?!!! IS THAT A VAMPIRE!!! AND NOT LIKE A BELA LUGOSI VAMPIRE!!! THAT’S A DAMNED FOLKLORE VAMPIRE!
Yes, she said. They have a rich vampire tradition in that country. “Vampire” is actually a Serbian word, she told me.
I love folklore vampires! They make Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee look “sparkly” by comparison. Folklore vampires are a bit more like zombies (which are nothing like folklore zombies). They’re dirty. They smell. And they eat their own family members! I love it! Dennis and I even have a folklore vampire movie written that we want to produce. I had no idea there were actually vampire folklore movies! Here are links to two of them:
Just as I had never heard of a folklore vampire movie, the idea of a Bigfoot-themed horror film was totally foreign to her. In her experience, Bigfoot was a subject best reserved for cable tv documentaries.
“WHAT??!!!!” I exclaimed. “NO BIGFOOT MOVIES IN SERBIA?!!! BUT HOW CAN– Ahh… you have vampires. You don’t need Bigfoot… Clever girl… So much cooler than werewolves, too.”
But, wait! There’s no AFI list! Bigfoot movies suck! Dammit! How do I… Shit! The jig is up! I’ve been found out!
As I prepared to delete my Facebook account and erase all online evidence that I had ever even been involved in making a Bigfoot movie, I remembered that thing she said about liking atmosphere and suspense over gore. Maybe I can do this.
What follows is my own personal AFI list of the top 100 Greatest Bigfoot movies. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the genre, only 9 films made it. Last week, I hailed the 1933 film, King Kong, as not only the Eighth Wonder of the World, but Greatest Bigfoot Movie Ever Made. I won’t be including that since I’m inconsistent and it doesn’t feature an actual Bigfoot. It will, however, be on my upcoming list, 100 Greatest Giant Ape Movies, which includes exactly one film.
Most of these films are from the 1970’s, since my interests apparently stopped developing shortly after I turned six. (I love Star Wars, Star Trek, KISS, and Bigfoot. That’s it.)
It kinda sucks a little.
It’s a rated G, so there’s not much violence to speak of and no one says “fuck,” if that’s what you look for in a movie. This is a very low budget effort, and features mostly nonprofessional actors, but if that bothers you, you should probably shouldn’t be reading The Legend of Grassman’s production blog. (Let it be known, however, that our film has plenty of violence and comes with a 3 “fuck” minimum guarantee.)
Also, sometimes the film takes a break so a guy can sing a song about how lonely the monster is, or about how a minor protagonist, Travis Crabtree, likes to ride in a boat or something.
But it also has atmosphere, creepiness, and a this-stuff-seriously-really-went-down approach to the storytelling. It evokes that dark, beautiful and terribly delicious fear you felt as a kid that there may be a monster hiding just inside your closet, but also a sense of wonder and discovery that comes with knowing that the unassuming forest behind your house may harbor secrets no one has ever seen.
If you’re a big fan of this film, you might want to check out the following books:
Another psuedo-documentary, but rather than Arkansas, this story takes place in Bigfoot’s hometown of the Pacific Northwest and focuses on actual Bigfoot lore (Boggy Creek’s Fouke Monster wasn’t associated with Bigfoot until the movie was made). It’s not totally saturated in creepy atmosphere like Boggy Creek, but it has it’s moments, some of which are reenactments of actual historical Bigfoot accounts.
This is another G-rated horror film, but aimed more at kids. A huge chunk of it is completely unrelated stock nature footage and its characters include a comic relief Jar Jar Binks-type, a bitter skeptic, an ornery old man gold miner type, a fake Indian who talks like Tonto if he were high, and a scientist who refers to the skeptic’s critical thinking as “negativity.”
I know what you’re thinking: “What’s the downside here?”
Yeah… But somehow it all comes together for me as a classic Bigfoot film.
Fun Fact: George Lauris, who plays the objectivity-hating scientist also directed the film footage used in the non-Gagnam Style internet sensation, Guy on a Buffalo.
Creature from Black Lake (1976)
Unlike the previous G-rated psuedo documentaries on this list, this one is a straight-forward hardcore PG-rated horror film. The plot revolves around some guys who go out into the woods, only to get their asses kicked by Sasquatch.
This isn’t quite a “Savage Sasquatch” horror movie like we’re used to these days where Bigfoot mercilessly rips the hell out of everyone for no reason. It’s a more adult Sasquatch, The Legend of Bigfoot. Unlike that film, Creature from Black Lake is a traditional narrative, with a darker tone while at the same time being funnier and more lighthearted. There are no fake Indians with stupid lines. (Sad face emoticon.)
There is, however, a lovable goofball named “Pahoo,” and Jack Elam in a supporting role as Jack Elam. Enough said.
I heard this one was one of the worst entries into the Bigfoot catalog. I found a copy at a horror convention and prepared for the worst. Holy shit! It was awesome. I mean… it sucked, but it was awesome! It’s got that 70’s Bigfoot feel, but something has gone horribly wrong with Bigfoot – He’s an ultra-violent roid-raging rapist who hangs out with Satanists and pulls a urinating biker’s wanker off in one scene. In his book, The Bigfoot Filmography, author David Coleman mentions this as the start of the “Savage Sasquatch” sub genre that continues to dominate modern Bigfoot films in which the isolated peace-loving creature is depicted as some kind of crazed asshole monster who kills for no reason.
If I had to recommend a Bigfoot film to horror fans, I think I’d recommend this one. Even though it sort of sucks. Except it’s awesome.
If you like offbeat documentaries like King of Kong, Best Worst Movie, American Movie, or Confessions of a Superhero, you might dig this one. I think it’s the best Bigfoot movie ever made. (Counting only Bigfoot movies that actually involve Bigfoot… though there is no actual Bigfoot in this film.)
It follows Dallas Gilbert and Wayne Burton, two good-natured but down-on-their luck guys in a dying factory town, who cling to their long held dream of finding Bigfoot as the only hope for turning their lives around. Real-life Bigfoot hunter Tom Biscardi is very convincing in his role as a total dick.
If you like this film, you should check out their webseries, Dallas and Wayne: The Bigfoot Hunters.
At one point in the 1976 documentary, host Peter Graves says that we’re sure to uncover indisputable proof of Bigfoot soon because it wasn’t too long ago that the Loch Ness Monster was thought to be nothing more than a myth, and now it’s universally accepted by scientists that dinosaurs, which were previously thought to be extinct, actually do hang out in Scotland. Upon viewing this film over 30 years after it was made, I was astounded by this claim and have come up with three possible explanations for it:
1. This film is the only surviving evidence of the creature due to a massive coverup that has been perpetrated on the world by someone who doesn’t think dinosaurs are cool.
2. The film I saw is an alternate version of The Mysterious Monsters made in a parallel dimension (where the Loch Ness Monster was accepted by science in 1972) that was accidentally left here by vacationing dimensioners.
3. In the 1970’s marijuana was popular.
In this next clip, Peter Graves starts making a bit more sense.
The Pumping Iron of Bigfoot movies, with guest appearances by John Green and Rene Dahinden – the Arnold Swarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno of cryptozoology. It starts out as kind of a forced, more awkward version of The Mysterious Monsters and then morphs into a cinema vérité documentary about Bigfoot researchers every bit as natural and unstaged as Pumping Iron was. The film follows Robert W. Morgan, the Mike Katz of cryptozoology, as he slowly discoveres that Mother Nature has hidden his t-shirt. A stand out moment for me was when a lab technician calls to tell him the hair samples he sent in are human body hairs from the lower extremities. Morgan takes this as promising news, but I’m reasonably certain she meant it was someone’s pubes.
HONORABLE MENTIONS THAT I CAN’T BRING MYSELF TO PUT ON A “BEST OF” LIST
Sasquatch Hunters (2005) Sasquatch Hunters is so poorly made that the filmmakers have created something pretty entertaining. It’s not on the same level with The Room or Plan Nine from Outer Space, and I have yet to find anyone who feels the way that I do about it, so it could just be that I’m an asshole who likes laughing at people’s hard work. Still, I’ve watched this more than Citizen Kane and if I had to choose between the two films in a fire, I would hope that some responsible film scholar might come along save Orson Welles’ masterpiece for future generations.
Shriek of the Mutilated (1974) The plot revolves around some guys who go out into the woods, only to get their asses kickwkrejgnw WHAT IN THE SHIT?!!! I guess the best way to describe this film is it’s like Night of the Demon if it sucked.
So that’s my list. Did I leave something off? Did I include too many awful films?Comment below and let me know.
It’s worth noting there were a couple Yeti films made in the 1950’s that are probably worth checking out, but I never watched any of them because the 3 minutes I saw of The Snow Creature sucked too much and The Abominable Snowman stars Peter Cushing, the sunavabitch who ordered the destruction of Alderaan.
If I had to describe The Legend of Grassman by comparing it with these films, I’d say it’s most like Creature from Black Lake mixed with a more polite version of Night of the Demon with a sprinkling of Sasquatch, The Legend of Bigfoot, and unrealistic aspirations to be The Legend of Boggy Creek. Also, it has a cameo from Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie. (Literally. Dallas and Wayne play themselves.) And again, we guarantee a minimum of 3 f-bombs or your money back! The plot revolves around some guys who go out into the woods, only to get their asses kicked by Sasquatch.
I leave you with this – another incredible video from Europe that Jovana opened my eyes to. It’s not related to vampires, or even Bigfoot, but I kinda wish it was.