Category Archives: Director’s Journal

The Schlock Party

In February 2010, we were still recovering from the hectic shoot from the previous fall.  Our plan was to recharge during the winter and regroup in the spring.  So I put together a trailer using the available footage to get everyone – including myself – pumped up again about making this film, and also to be able to show to people we were trying to entice into working with us.

On YouTube, our trailer was spotted by Avery Guerra, who seems to be some kind of highly skilled professional cool-stuff-liker/promoter.  (Not that our film is cool – just Bigfoot.)  His IMDb listing includes credits as publicist on The Devil’s Rook and Gila! (The Giant Gila Monster remake.  Awesome.) as well as “thank you” credits on several other horror/scifi films, including Paranormal Activity. (!)  So from what I can tell, he’s helped a lot of indie filmmakers like us out with spreading the word about their films. 

He was nice enough to ask for some info that he could pass along to some cool-stuff-liking websites.  I wrote up an email describing the film to him and sent it to Dennis to look over before I sent it off.  I have a tendency to be a little too flippant, and Dennis helps me curtail that because he hates laughter (and puppies).

A writer reacts to positive feedback: "I hear a 'but' coming..."

Thinking about those bastard puppies.

In my email, I had described our film’s tone by comparing it to what they were going for in the 1999 The Mummy remake, with the combination of horror, humor, and adventure, adding that I thought The Mummy wasn’t entirely successful at the mixture.  Dennis said The Mummy sucked and changed it to:

“Our prior horror efforts, including Consumed are dark, grim tales, which we enjoy, but didn’t feel that tone was what we wanted in a Bigfoot film. We agreed that Jaws had a good balance or horror, comedy, and adventure which we are attempting to capture.”

Which I would never say.  Ever.

We went with that and the story, along with the quote, was posted on Ken Husley’s awesome site Monster Island News.  And that was really cool.  Someone actually gave a crap about our movie.  It was like a real movie.  Cool.

How often do you get to take a not-at-all creepy picture like this?  I bet people will think I'm a wizard!

How often do you get to take a not-at-all creepy picture like this? I bet people will think I’m a wizard!

I never saw the movie, but I bet he's a real asshole.

I never saw the movie, but I bet he’s a real asshole.

And then, much to our surprise, other sites started picking the story up, mostly due to the fact that Avery is awesome and spread the word around.  And then i09  posted an article titled “Screw K-Pax We Want Zonad, French Mutants And Bigfoot’s Cousin The Grassman” Yeah!  Screw K-Pax!  We were getting lots of hits and praise on the trailer, and it felt good.  Very motivational, too.

And then Joblo.com picked up the story.  Mind, you, I hadn’t heard of any of these sites, because I only go to kissonline.com and theforce.net, but Dennis was pretty impressed, so I followed his lead.

meyer bros

Cool!  Wait… They just called us absurd.  We were actually more offended that we’d been labeled “The Meyer Brothers,” the inevitable moniker we thought we could somehow avoid – made all the worse here by shortening “brothers” to “bros.”  Shit.

The first line of the story was “Wow.  Talk about a schlock party!”  I was pretty sure this was an insult, but had to look up “schlock” in the online dictionary to find out what it meant.  Seemed like an insult, but the addition of “party” made it sound like something fun.  Futhermore, who had been talking about schlock parties?  As far as I could tell no one, or I might know what a schlock party is.

meyerbros2

Just called it absurd again.  Son of a – wait, they’re talking about us like anyone has any idea who we are other than the 30 people who watched The Spooky House at the 2003 Ohio Independent Film Festival.   And, look, next he’s quoting me like a real filmmaker!  Awesome!

quote

Hey, cool, he made it sound like Consumed was an actually film we made!  Wait!  We didn’t say it was like Jaws!  We said were were trying to mix comedy, horror, and adventure like Jaws did!  Son of a shit!  We look like complete tools!

nepotism

Who was talking about nepotism?  Did I miss that?  Was that at the schlock party?

The “absurd” and “schlocky” comments didn’t bother me so much as looking like a complete tool who thinks he’s Steven Spielberg.  We get negative comments about our work all the time – If you can’t deal with that, you shouldn’t be making movies.  Or doing anything, really.

This isn’t a tirade against the author of that post.  It’s his job to post cool stuff or lame stuff and either praise it or make fun of it as he see’s fit.  He just called me out for sounding like a complete tool.  This filmmaking stuff is a very public thing.  And, as you learn and grow, your failures happen in front of everyone.

If I were a tool, would I be able do this?

If I were a tool, would I be able do this?

The lesson we took from this experience at the time was that that you have to be extra careful about what you say to the press because it can be easily misinterpreted.  But then I decided that lesson is stupid because we kind knew that already anyway.  I have since found a much more profound lesson in all of this, which is also something we knew already anyway but is the kind of thing you can know for years, but not really know it until you finally find out.

I’ll get to that next week in Schlock Party II: Out of the Closet, Into the Fire. 

-Tyler

What many claim to be the only known photograph of an actual schlock party in progress.

What many claim to be the only known photograph of an actual schlock party in progress.

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100 Years… 100 Squatches: AFI’s List of the 100 Greatest Bigfoot Films of All Time

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.

To illustrate, here is a still from a film of ours that she wasn't involved in.

To illustrate, here is a still from a film of ours that she wasn’t involved in.

598571_463573303698815_1555667317_nA 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.

In case the clip didn't horrify you enough.

In case the clip didn’t horrify you enough.

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:

Leptrica (The Butterfly) – with English subtitles

Sveto mesto (The Holy Place) – with Russian subtitles that can be translated into badly translated English

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.”

100YEARS2_TempTile_250x250She asked if I could recommend a couple titles, so what I gave her the American Film Institute’s recent list of 100 Greatest Bigfoot Movies Ever Made.

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.)

HORROR

The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)

legend_of_boggy_creekThis is 70’s drive-in movie phenomenon that is often cited as the best Bigfoot film ever made.  But before you watch it, there’s something you should know.

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:

The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster

Smokey and the Fouke Monster

Sasquatch, The Legend of Bigfoot (1977)

MV5BMTM1NzEwMzc0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNjQ1Mjg5._V1_SX214_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)

CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE2aUnlike 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.

Night of the Demon (1980)

This VHS distributor decided that the wanker scene was the best selling point of the film.

This VHS cover is notable for 2 reasons  #1 – The distributor decided that the wanker scene was the best selling feature of the film.  And #2 –  Someone who actually designed covers for a living thought this picture (of what looks to be a dude pissing himself while a stoned, lipstick-wearing Sasquatch looks on) made a pretty damn good one.

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.

DOCUMENTARIES

Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie (2008)

not_your_typical_bigfoot_movie_xlgIf 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.

The Mysterious Monsters (1976)

Mysterious Monsters.  These assholes ripped off David Coleman's Bigfoot filmography cover.

Mysterious Monsters. These assholes ripped off The Bigfoot Filmography’s cover.

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.

Bigfoot: Man or Beast? (1972)

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.

Also features the most awkward body language in a husband/wife interview ever captured on film.

Also features the most awkward body language in a husband/wife interview ever captured on film.

HONORABLE MENTIONS THAT I CAN’T BRING MYSELF TO PUT ON A “BEST OF” LIST

sasquatchhuntersSasquatch 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.

This.

This.

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.

sasquaAlso on my to-watch list is Manbeast: Myth or Monster (1978) and Sasqua (1975), a lost film that was recently discovered but I still can’t find anywhere, so technically it’s still lost, I think.

Grassman PosterIf 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.

-Tyler

Bigfoot is the New Zombie

I went to this 20 year high school reunion this past summer or fall or something. I’d never been to one of these things before cause it’s a commonly held belief that they suck.  Suck?  It was pretty much like hanging out in a bar where everyone’s really happy to see you.   How does this suck?  For once, you get to be Norm from Cheers, only without the ridiculous bar tab.  And I should point out that high school was not a period where I experienced a great level of social success.  To put things in perspective, my closest friends during that time were the crew of  the Starship Enterprise NCC1701-D.  Though, I must confess, I didn’t exactly gel with Dr. Kate Pulaski.

Even in this photo of the bridge officers and the teenage boy they like to hang out with, her arrogance overpowers the scene.  So glad she wasn't at the reunion.

Even in this photo of the bridge officers and the teenage boy they like to hang out with, her arrogance and lack of team spirit are defiantly on display like the feathers of some kind of shitheaded peacock. So glad she wasn’t at the reunion.

I was excited to come across an old friend, Bill Danner, because he was one of the three people I thought might remember me.  At this point, I hadn’t yet realized that I (and everyone else there) was Norm from Cheers and I thought maybe I could fool the rest of Roger Bacon’s Class of 1992 into thinking that I was interesting and had friends.  He told me he was a writer now and that he specialized in monster stories.  Hey, dude, that awesome.  Cause I’m working on a monster movie!  What kind of monsters you write about?

Me and Bill.  Sort of.  Me and Bill's hands.  Talking about werewolves.

Me and Bill. Sort of. Me and Bill’s hands. Talking about werewolves.  On my name tag is a picture of what I looked like 20 yrs ago.  I looked like a guy in a suit.  (Photo credit: Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrmann)

“Werewolves,” Bill answered, clearly stunned that I would ask such a silly question because werewolves are obviously the only monster that are worth the trouble.  “And what’s your movie about?” he asked politely, knowing the answer was werewolves.

“Bigfoot,” I said enthusiastically, with the same blissful obliviousness I display when I tell a music snob that my favorite band is KISS.

“Bigfoot?” Bill asked in disbelief.  “Bigfoot?”

“Yeah…  Bigfoot…” I continued.  “The gentle giant of the forest…  The wild man of the mountain…  Don’t you like Bigfoot?”

He refused to dignify that question with an answer, but the disgusted look on his face said it all.  He then proceeded to tell me why werewolves are the best monster for any and all artistic endeavors.  I won’t get into that now because I was fairly drunk from my one beer at that point and didn’t retain any of it.  Something about fangs or man’s duality…  I don’t know…  He probably explains it on his blog, Howl to Find Meaning, where he has some short stories you can check out, as well as his work-in-progress novel.

Go ahead.  Check it out.  I’ll wait.

How is this scary?  I just don't get it.  (Photo credit: Stolen from Bill's Blog)
How is this scary? I just don’t get it. (Photo credit: Stolen from Bill’s blog)

I’ve spent the last few years focused on Bigfoot & Bigfoot movies and interacting with other people who love Bigfoot as much as I do (and some a bit more).  This exchange made me realize that I had become so immersed in my film and in the Bigfoot subculture, I momentarily forgot that the vast majority of Bigfoot movies pretty much suck.

In the 1970’s Bigfoot had exploded into popular culture.  The famous Patterson/Gimlin film had come out just a few years earlier, igniting the public’s interest in the big guy and once the extremely low budget docudrama (like a mockumentary but faker) The Legend of Boggy Creek hit drive-in screens, it was over.  Bigfoot was everywhere.

Me and Bob Gimlin, the "Gimlin" in Patterson-Gimlin.  Not pertinent or anything.  Just name dropping.

Me and Bob Gimlin, the “Gimlin” in Patterson-Gimlin. Not pertinent or anything. Just name dropping.  (Photo credit: Nice lady who made delicious Bigfoot-shaped cookies)

By the time I had been born and started to reach consciousness the tv was filled  with aweseome 70’s Bigfoot stuff like In Search Of… and The Six Million Dollar Man.  I probably even caught an episode or two of Bigfoot and Wildboy.  Bigfoot was so popular at the time, I had a recurring nightmare in those days that Bigfoot and I were being chased by pirates.  I also had a somewhat less relevant dream that the Bionic Man and the Peanuts gang went to the Cincinnati Zoo to beat up alligators.

Welcome to my nightmare.  Children under 3 get in free.

Welcome to my nightmare. Children 2 and under get in free.

When I was older, I started reading books about Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, and all sorts of other allegedly real-life monsters (including werewolves.  If you hit a werewolf on the nose with your housekey, he’ll leave you alone.  Laaame.  I wonder if Bill knows that).  As a kid who hated reading, this was one of the few subjects that would inspire me to pick up a book.  And also Dr. Who.  (Until I finally was allowed to stay up late enough to see the show.  It was the worst.)

By now it was the 80’s  and there weren’t really any Bigfoot movies being made.  Harry and the Hendersons came out.  It kinda sucked, but it was Bigfoot, so I went with it.  The same year, Unsolved Mysteries hit the airwaves, occasionally offering a more serious take on the cryptid.  It all made me long for all the cool stuff I had seen in the seventies.

Back in the 70’s, when Leonard Nimoy would tell me things about Bigfoot and ghosts and aliens, it felt very real and there was something very scary about it, but also very compelling.  At the same time, I was realizing that Mr. Spock was just a character and Leonard Nimoy the actor who played him.  Putting 2 & 2 together with my undeveloped kid brain, I realized he was no Vulcan and that his pointed ears must be the result of a deformity – a deformity exploited by the producers of Star Trek.

Sounds like something Pulaski's would do.

A total Pulaski move.

“Does he know his ears are pointed?” I asked my mom.

She ignored the question because pretending it didn’t happen was preferable to believing her son was some kind of idiot.  Mr. Nimoy, after all, didn’t have pointed ears on In Search Of.  But watching a crappy SD picture over RF on a 19 inch set, I couldn’t really tell.  Also, I was some kind of idiot.

There was something extra scary and extra real about Bigfoot, whereas vampires and werewolves were pretty cool (except for the key business) but no one believed in them anymore.  It made a huge impression on me, and as I got older, any time I’d be out in a field or the woods in autumn at sunset, I’d think “It would be cool to make a Bigfoot movie.  Like from the seventies.  Grainy film.  Bigfoot.  Cool.” (Autumn sunsets remind me of grainy seventies Bigfoot movies.)  That always stayed with me over the years. Though, in retrospect, In Search Of… would have lost all credibility if I had seen this at the time.

When we started The Legend of Grassman (and once I dropped my ridiculous John Cassavetes Bigfoot Movie idea that Dennis and I couldn’t see eye to eye on) I was hoping to evoke that same feel.  Recent Bigfoot movies pretty much sucked and they seemed like a dying trend.  As we continued working on the film, though, we kept hearing about other Bigfoot movies being made.  Eventually it there were so many, it became slightly ridiculous.  

I thought what separated our film from all the others was that it was an homage to the films of the 1970’s like Boggy Creek.  Then I found out about The Wild Man of the Navidad, and Eduardo Sanchez’s Exists.  Our film was suddenly not as unique as we had thought it was, except I bet Exists doesn’t have a guy getting hit in the nuts with a hedge apple.  Much to my dismay, I found that Navidad certainly did not. And then, last year, David Coleman released his giant reference book, The Bigfoot Filmography, where he boldly declared the Bigfoot movie as it’s own genre.  You know, like zombies.

The Bigfoot Filmography by Dave Coleman

The Bigfoot Filmography by David Coleman

If zombies can have their own genre, why not Bigfoot?  Well…  I guess cause Bigfoot movies kind of suck… But wait!  Coleman begins his book by saying “Bigfoot movies kind of suck.”  I’m paraphrasing.  Without attributing any inflated sense of importance to these films, and while acknowledging that quality is often lacking, Coleman very carefully and thoroughly traces the history of the genre from a silent short by Méliès (the guy from Hugo), through the 70’s heyday, and right up to the Sasquatch Renaissance we’re experiencing today.

This is something I actually attempted to do myself when we decided to make our film.   I wanted to make a quintessential Bigfoot film, and I wanted to understand where these films came from.  The earliest film I could find was also the most epic and awesome – King Kong.  (The Fouke Monster never ripped a T-Rex’s face open.  Sissy.)  The book talks about King Kong as a Bigfoot film, and also as “Killer Gorilla” movie and goes on to explain the difference between the two genres.

The Fouke Monster also never swiped airplanes out the air like it was nothing. So badass.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While prepping for my film, I never bothered to watch any Killer Gorilla movies because I somehow thought they all revolved around an aging Bela Lugosi being bested by a bunch of smart-mouthed 30 year old teenagers with Brooklyn accents from a screenplay by Ed Wood.  (Turns out, I had just confused several different movies as one, but I’m still reasonably sure that’s an accurate description of the genre.)

I also had decided that the Sasquatch films  from the 1970’s were somehow linked to jungle adventures like Tarzan.  Both involved explorers intruding into mysterious, uncharted wildernesses and getting their asses kicked by crazy nature shit.  Both made generous use of obvious nature stock footage shots.   The book goes even further and makes an unexpected connection between the King of the Jungle and Bigfoot himself.  (SPOILER:  Former lovers!  OMG!!!)

I was pleased to find that I came up with some of the same conclusions on my own that a guy with bookwriting smarts did, as I frequently don’t come up with smart things to say good.   But, in his book, Coleman goes deeper than my tiny brain will allow and touches on every Bigfoot film and tv show/beef jerky commercial ever made – plenty of which I hadn’t seen or heard of.  He talks about each decade of Bigfoot movies, their influences, how the genre evolved, and it’s thematic elements.  (Up until the point that I read this book, I thought a common theme of the genre is that there’s usually a guy who wears a cowboy hat.)  .

This still from Sasquatch, The Legend of Bigfoot proves that my analysis is correct.

This still from Sasquatch, The Legend of Bigfoot proves that my analysis is correct.

I wish that there had been a text like this available when we started our film in 2008.  I wouldn’t have read it, as I never read due to the fact that find books too cumbersome with the weight and all the page turning involved and because there’s a good chance the book in your hand has been to the toilet with some guy who likes to read while he poops. (I own the paperback version of this book, but was only able to read it on the Nook.  Also, I find the Nook’s screen brighter and more pleasing to the eye than a book.  And you can’t get Fruit Ninja on a book.)

The Bigfoot Filmography should be required reading for any filmmakers looking to do their own Sasquatch movie and is a great read for Bigfoot fans and film buffs alike.  It takes a serious look at a genre which is never taken seriously just because the films kinda suck.  But my love of Ciné du Sasquatch (it’s French talk) has more to do with potential than quality.  

I once stopped over my dad’s house and noticed he owned a copy of Sasquatch Hunters, which I love because I find it laughably bad. (I’m so sorry if you made this film.  Please focus on the “love” portion of that sentence.)  I started to talk to him about how “bad” it was, cause here’s a guy that didn’t even like Tales of the Gold Monkey, which is obviously the best thing ever to be shown on tv.  He’s gotta think it sucks.  He gave me a puzzled look and then told me he thought it was good.

“I like Bigfoot movies,” he shrugged.

My Dad.  This is the only picture I had of him...  I...  hmm....

My Dad. This is the only picture I had of him… I… yeah…

I like Bigfoot movies.  It’s that potential for something great and that desire to see that real Bigfoot we grew up with that draws us in.  And also, probably, that he hasn’t had his eyes checked since Nixon was in office.

It’s a bit like back when Daredevil came out and we were all like “That wasn’t terrible.  I guess it was good or something.”  Just because there was no Iron Man, Dark Knight, or The Avengers at the time.  Now you look at it, and it’s obvious that it totally sucks.  There was a great potential for superhero movies NOT directed by Joel Schumacher, we all saw it, and we were willing to cling to anything that represented that dream.

It’s also a little like when Dr. Kate Pulaski joined the Enterprise 1701-D and you totally hated her, but then you realized you were stuck with her so by the end of season 2, you started thinking maybe she wasn’t so bad and then you heard Dr. Crusher was returning so you were like, “Don’t let the turbolift hit you in the ass on the way out, Dr. Jerkface!” Am I right? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The best hope for genre right now is Exists, directed by Eduardo Sanchez, who totally nailed the Legend of Boggy Creek creepy atmosphere thing with The Blair Witch Project – A movie I think doesn’t get enough respect because lots of people got pissed that they had been tricked into thinking there was a real Blair Witch and other, snootier folks, were pissed that the filmmakers didn’t use a tripod.  I didn’t know when I saw that Blair Witch that it was actually inspired by Boggy Creek, but it put off that vibe with the grainy B&W 16mm footage, documentary feel, creepy mythology, locations, and oddball side characters.  And that’s what I loved most about the film.  Also, best snot scene since Patrick Swayze in North and South.

Exists is the biggest, most mainstream scary Bigfoot movie to come around since ever in the history of always and it has the potential to make the current Bigfoot craze even bigger.  Thus, my assertion that Bigfoot is the new zombie.  There’s a revolution underway, and all we need is one big movie that doesn’t totally suck to open the floodgates.  And doesn’t have Danny Bonaduce and Greg Brady in it.  Cause that was so terrible I couldn’t finish it.

I wrote this blog post for Bill Danner, because I didn’t have the facilities to say it to him when I was drunk on my one beer at Roger Bacon Class of ’92 2oth Reunion, and at some point when I wasn’t paying attention, the conversation somehow switched to someone’s teenage son masturbating too much.  I hope this article maybe clears up my love for this genre and its often unrealized potential.  

And yes, Bill, werewolves are very cool (except for the key thing) and should be represented more in fiction.   But there may come a time when you turn on your tv and instead of seeing goofy ass beef jerky commercials, you get your shit totally scared off by the AMC original series The Walking Sasquatch.  I want you to be prepared for this.  Also, I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but it’s probably best that you don’t get too attached to any characters who happened to be named “T Dog.”

-Tyler

Howl to Find Meaning
The Bigfoot Filmography Official Blog
Me and Bill Danner talking about good times and werewolves.  Well, this isn't actually him.  This is his friend Phil Rolfert.  But I think if Bill and I had taken a picture together, we might have done it this way.  Phil, by the way, is NOT a werewolf snob.

Me and Bill Danner talking about good times and werewolves. Well, this isn’t actually him. This is his friend Phil Rolfert. But I think if Bill and I had taken a picture together, we might have done it this way. Phil, by the way, is NOT a werewolf snob.  (Photo credit: Anne Rolfert)