Tag Archives: Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie

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

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The Things We Have to Go Through Around Here to Finish a Scene – Part II

In summer of 2011, we had just finished our shoot with Jessica Cameron, having shot around the not-yet-cast role of Tom the hunter pervert.  She was just the second real-life professional actress person we had worked with on the film, and we were pretty pleased with ourselves.  But we could never have predicted that this would eventually lead to Steve Grothaus, our lighting director, sitting outside in a pile of firewood a year and a half later in the middle of January pretending to be a meth addicted barn owner.

To entice him to do the role, I let him wear my sweet adventure hat. You can pick up one of these babies at most of the Walt Disney World Theme Parks (Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom definitely have it.  It is far too cool for Epcot.)  It's pretty much THE hat for vacationing adventurers.

To entice him to do the role, I let him wear my sweet adventure hat. You can pick up one of these babies at most of the Walt Disney World Theme Parks (Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom definitely have them. It is far too cool for Epcot.) It’s pretty much THE hat for vacationing adventurers.

You see, Steve Grothaus isn’t an actor, and like a lot of people who work behind the camera, he doesn’t like being in front of it.  Years ago, while helping me on a college film, Steve glared the Grothaus Death Glare at me because my wide shot of him walking way the hell down the street wasn’t wide enough.  And then there was the time he was working on the crew of the 1995 film A Reason to Believe with Holly Marie Combs and The Boy Who Could Fly, and they found themselves short an actor.  What happened next is not a cherished memory of Steve’s.

To this day, he has no concept of how cool this is.

Steve as “Condom Boy.” The filmmakers apparently had this great hat but no actor to wear it.  I have always been jealous of him because of this and he still has no idea why.

That hat I gave him to wear was a lot less of a…  what’s the word…  “condom-shaped buffoon helmet”, I guess is the phrase I’m looking for.  Still, why would I, who claims to be his friend, put him in this horrible position again?  And why wait a year and a half and do it in bitter cold of January? He was actually on set taking stills when we shot the scene with Jessica so I could have easily added him to the scene then.  But at the time, I was hoping to fill the role with an actor in a cameo appearance.

As we mention any time we get a chance, our film is an homage to the classic Bigfoot films television shows we grew up with, and I was hoping to find actor who had been in one of those productions to play the role of Tom the perverted hunter.  I searched for a few different Sasquatchploitation celebrities and ultimately ended up approaching a guy named Joseph Butcher that I thought looked like Joseph Butcher from Bigfoot and Wildboy (he wasn’t), and Joshua Rudoy, who played the little boy in Harry and the Hendersons (who unfortunately didn’t get my message until it was too late.  He didn’t say whether or not he would have done it, but it would have been AWESOME.)

He would have made a GREAT Tom the perverted hunter.

He would have made a GREAT Tom the perverted hunter.

As I was getting nowhere in my search, Dennis suggested a guy he knew and, since this guy hadn’t been in any Bigfoot movies, I was reluctant to agree – But I eventually did.  In the meantime, we had added this character to the opening teaser scene of the film, and had transformed Tom the hunter pervert into Tom the meth addicted hunter pervert.  I don’t remember why – it may have been to make the role more appealing to the new actor.  What do remember is that the worse Tom got as a human being, the more I became enamored with the character.  It helped that I thought our actor looked like a young Jack Elam, who had played a minor role (with top billing) in The Creature from Black Lake, one of my favorite Bigfoot films.  So I was really looking forward to shooting these two scenes with this gun-toting meth addicted pervert who looked like Jack Elam.

And then I go on to become one of the most beloved characters in Western folklore.

And then I go on to become one of the most beloved characters in Sasquatch folklore.

But long before we ever added this awful person to our opening teaser scene, we had started shooting it.  It was November 2009, the first year of production.  We had planned to finish shooting the whole film that year, but the months progressed and the cold weather and lack of leaves on the trees eventually shut us down.  This scene was one of the few interior scenes in the script, so leaves wouldn’t be an issue, but we were shooting in a house without any heating, so there was some pressure on us to shoot what we could before winter.  So, even though we couldn’t find actors for two of the roles in the scene, we decided to go ahead and shoot the main action with the 3 most important characters, who had been cast.  (This happens a lot.)

The best way to describe our shoots before this one is that they were sort of like chaotic all-day family picnics with a lot more fake blood than usual and a guy running around dressed as a bear.  That, believe it or not, was our strategy for getting the film shot quickly.  

This is what a typical Grassman shoot  looks like.

This is what a typical Grassman shoot looked like prior to November 2009

This opening scene would be our first interior shoot, and I wanted it to have a different look and feel to it.  Steve Grothaus was brought on board for the first time on the production to do lighting for us.  (The poor fool couldn’t see where this was headed.)  Also, we used lights for the first time.

My wife’s cousin, Naomi Goldman, who was probably about 14 at the time and studying acting, joined the cast for this shoot making this the first time we did a shoot with anyone who had any type of acting training.  (Stephan Meyer, who plays Kyle, may have had some, but no one cared.)  Her presence greatly added to this strange new professional feel that was floating around in the air.  She came in and did her part with very little input from me.  She delivered her angsty lines like the angsty teenager she was portraying and I could see her character thinking – I often have to coach people to look like they’re thinking.  (The “smell a fart” technique tends to work for all untrained actors….  except Wayne Burton.  Remind me to tell you about that later.) So I just got to stand back and watch the scene and not do anything, which was great because I’m not really into…  you know… doing things.   

Naomi Goldman acts teenage angsty while Steve Grothaus operates the duct-taped boom mic, trying to keep out of the way of the shot and blissfully unaware of the on-camera fate that would ultimately befall him.

Naomi Goldman acts teenage angsty while Steve Grothaus operates the duct-taped boom mic, trying to keep out of the way of the shot and blissfully unaware of the on-camera fate that would ultimately befall him.

As for our other actors, my nephew Dennis had jumped at the chance to play one of the roles because it required him to have his head smashed through a window.  (?)  We weren’t shooting that stunt this night (We really didn’t know how to do it without smashing his actual face through an actual window.) and he didn’t have any lines, so mostly what Dennis did was sit on the bed next to his wife Erin.

Up to that point, this was his only performance worth talking about anyway.  He spent the first day of shooting this way.  He was not in any scenes.

At that point in time, this was his only performance worth talking about anyway. He spent the first day of shooting this way. He was not in any scenes.

Erin, by default, was drafted to play Dennis’ character’s girlfriend because of all the making out that the script required.  She had never done anything like this before, and in retrospect, maybe subjecting a first-time actor to an awkward on-camera make-out scene her first time out when we didn’t have any experience with scenes of characters having any kind of physical contact with each other (ew) was probably not a good move.  She quickly developed a serious case of The Giggles.

(A lot of filmmakers offer advice on how to approach love scenes on filmmaking blogs like this one.  Here’s my advice: Hell with it.  No one wants to see a bunch of kissing anyway.)

I remember being in an audio class in college and stepping into a recording booth for the first time because the teacher needed someone to record a couple lines for a project we were working on.  Didn’t seem like a big deal.  I had been doing this kind of thing as an actor for my own films for years.  But as I stood there next to the microphone, I looked through the window and saw the whole class staring at me… TERRIFYING.  Years of experience but NOT WITH PEOPLE WATCHING.

All my "films" sort of looked like this.

All my “films” sort of looked like this.

Clearly, Erin was having a similar experience now.  Even after we said “to hell with” the making out (because it was awkward and no one wants to see a bunch of kissing anyway) she was still having trouble getting through her lines.  The whole process of pretending to say and do things while people stand around and watch is weird and unnatural, and out of everyone we worked with up to that point,  she seemed to be the one who had the hardest time with it.

But she had one of the best attitudes ever in the history of ever.  She hung in there, and I did what I could to help her (even though I don’t know the first thing about acting… probably should work on that).  This was someone who had been drafted into service just so her husband could put his head through a window (?) and was totally out of her element. She focused on the task at hand, worked hard, and got the job done no matter how silly she thought she looked.  If she couldn’t do a line one way, we’d do it another way.  If she couldn’t do panicked and hysterical, we’d have her play it stunned and in shock.

Erin Myers does acting.  While Dennis sits on bed.

Erin Myers does acting. Dennis sits on bed.

Skill and experience are nice to have.  But attitude is what really counts.  Skill can be learned and experience can be…  experienced.  Attitudes can be changed, too, but no one wants to hang around while you learn to be less of a jerk/drama queen/downer/lazypants.  I’d work with Erin again in a heartbeat.  I don’t care if her husband wants to put his head through a window or not this time. (?)

So you see, the reason I cast Steve Grothaus as a meth-addicted Jack Elam was because of his attitude. But wait a minute…  What about the other Jack Elam?  What about the Grothaus Death Glare?  Why the hell did we do it a year and a half after the main shoot?  In January?  What’s this about Wayne Burton smelling farts?  

Get all these answers and more next Monday in the third and final chapter of “The Things We Have to Go Through Around Here to Finish a Scene.”  Except for the Wayne Burton/fart story.   I’m saving that one for later.

– Tyler

To this day, he has no concept of how cool this is.

One more time.  Just to get the full impact.