Retromedia has been putting out a lot of themed compilation discs lately, compiling some interesting movies many of which have not appeared on DVD before. This time around, they package one of their previous releases, Shriek Of The Mutilated with three other bigfoot/sasquatch/yeti themed movies, slap them all onto one dual layered, double sided disc, and title it Bigfoot Terror, though the only frightening about this set is just how bad most of these movies are. Regardless, for fans of trash cinema, there's some fun gold to be found if you don't mind getting your hands dirty and digging in a bit…
Search For The Beast (1997):
In this low budget shot on video groan fest from 1997 we're introduced to a bigfoot who lives in the wild forests of Alabama! Here he lives alone, something he hopes to remedy once mating season begins and he decides to kidnap some pretty young ladies from the nearby town. With the nubile vixens in his grasp he hopes to let nature takes its course but their disappearances have not gone unnoticed…
Enter Dr. David Stone (the heroically named Rick Montana), a professor at the nearby college and an adventurer in his own right. His smarts and his know how make him the only man who can take on bigfoot and get the girls back before it's too late. He assembles a posy, gathers up plenty of live ammo, and heads off into the swampy woodsy area to complete his mission no matter the cost. What they don't know is that even if they are successful, bigfoot doesn't forget and he just happens to seriously hold a grudge…
The very concept of bigfoot kidnapping women to mate with is, let's face it, pretty retarded but even if you're able to get your head around that odd choice in monster motivation and see the bigger picture, it ain't pretty. The acting is bad, the effects are so low budget it hurts, and the dialogue is riddled with clichés. This makes for a pretty bad film, but one that isn't completely unwatchable. The performers, as bad as they are, definitely have some enthusiasm for what they're doing and the novelty of seeing a bigfoot movie shot on video in Alabama provides enough unintentional humor that, despite some slow spots, the movie isn't really dull – it's just not well made. At eighty minutes it moves by quickly, consider this one cheap, disposable fun.
B-movie starlet Kimberly Cole shows up in this one, indy cinema fans might recognize her from Steve Sessions' Dead Clowns and Ted V. Mikel's Mark of The Astro Zombies. She's not really stellar in the part but at least you can see why Bigfoot might want to hump her. Thankfully, the film also features some completely unnecessary gratuitous nudity and a strange but amusing cameo from David Friedman!
The Legend Of Bigfoot (1976):
Bigfoot was hot stuff in the seventies, and 'documentary' filmmaker Harry Winer was smart enough to tap into this phenomena when he co-wrote and filmed his supposed documentary, The Legend Of Bigfoot which was released in 1976. While we now know that half of the supposed proof behind the bigfoot sittings of the decade of disco were a load of poop, at the time it seemed almost a sure thing that hey, maybe there are sasquatch out there – it's this potential that Winer tries to cash in on with his film wherein he attempts to explain some of the myths behind all of this.
In the film, famed animal tracker Ivan Marx and his wife Peggy take us along on a journey through the thick woods where they claim that the sasquatch resides. We learn that Marx had most of his experience tracking down grizzly bears in the Pacific Northwest and other dangerous beasts, which makes him the right man to take down bigfoot. From there we get a chance to check out Marx's charming Volkswagen Beatle as he drives around talks a lot before finally we're shown what is supposed to be actual footage of Bigfoot himself running around in the woods.
While this film sheds next to no new light at all on the mystery of the sasquatch, and the supposed footage of the critter himself in action is murky, mildly out of focus and shot from so far away that it could easily be Peggy in a monkey suit, The Legend Of Bigfoot is never the less an entertaining little movie. It's not a good film, in that it doesn't really explain much of anything and it isn't very well made, but it is at least a fun watch as Ivan Marx is obviously really into himself which makes him quite the unintentionally hilarious host for this hoax.
Additionally, aside from Marx's uber macho screen presence, the film also does a good job of showing off a lot of the scenic beauty of the forests in and around Oregon and Washington. Look at this one as more of a really dated travelogue than a mind-blowing expose on bigfoot and you'll come away mildly amused.
Shriek Of The Mutilated (1974):
Directed by the late, great Michael Findlay (he of The Curse Of Her Flesh fame) and photographed by his wife Roberta, Shriek Of The Mutilated is a completely enjoyable exercise on so-bad-it's-good filmmaking.
When the movie begins, Dr. Ernst Prell (Allan Brock) is getting ready to bring his students on an expedition into the mountains of New York State to find and photograph the infamous Yeti. Before he goes, he takes his star pupil, Tom Nash (Jack Neubeck of Invasion Of The Blood Farmers), out for a special dinner but soon enough, the doctor and four of his students are hanging out with his friend Tom and Tom's assistant, a mute native Indian named Laughing Crow (Ivan Agar).
Everything seems to be going nicely until the rumored Yeti does appear and wouldn't you know it, he's none too friendly, in fact, he's a cold blooded killing machine! The students, or what remains of them, are horrified to see some of their own killed by the beast and they turn to the doctor for help but his plan to blind him with light in the middle of the night by luring him out of the woods with a bound corpse doesn't exactly work, making one of the kids involved wonder if maybe the good doctor doesn't have some ulterior motive in all of this…
Shriek Of The Mutilated is pretty horrible stuff, even by b-movie standards. The Yeti himself is so obviously a man in a fuzzy costume that you can't help but laugh at him every time that he appears on screen, especially when he runs around and flails his arms making all sorts of 'ooga booga' noises at the scared college students (most of whom look to be in their early thirties). The soundtrack is completely out of place, where there should be chase music there's soothing orchestral pieces and where there should be suspenseful cues there is be bopping free jazz. It all adds up to a disaster of a movie that's endlessly entertaining in spite of itself, made all the more unusual thanks to the key performances of Allan Brock and Ivan Agar, both of whom are so completely awful in the film that again, it's impossible to take them seriously Watch this one with some scotch and some Benedryl for maximum effect.
Worth noting is that for some reason the song 'Popcorn' doesn't play out over the party scene like it used to and it's been replaced here by some rather obviously faked tune that doesn't quite fit into the scene so well. One can assume that the reason the music was replaced was likely due to a right issue.
The Capture Of Bigfoot (1979):
This lovely seventies oddity was directed by none other than Bill Rebane, the same Bill Rebane who directed Tiny Tim in Blood Harvest and the same Bill Rebane who made Alan 'The Skipper' Hale Jr. in The Giant Spider Invasion. His name is synonymous with quality filmmaking in much the same way that Ed Wood Jr. or, more recently, Uwe Boll are affiliated with 'good movies.'
After some bad music opens the film, we meet a team of two trappers who have captured something of great importance, but we don't know what it is because it's covered in a canvas tarp and tied up. Unfortunately for these hearty woodsmen, something out there is watching them, something that breathes heavy and has sharp claws, something that soon launches into an attack and kills an unlucky member of their troupe while the other one, injured badly, makes his way into town.
The reason that bigfoot is on the offensive soon becomes clear – a rich man who runs a ski resort near the woods has found that he exists and so he wants to capture him, figuring that if he does, he'll have no problem raking in the customers and therefore raking in the cash! That's right, he wants to use bigfoot as a publicity tool for his moneymaking schemes. Good thing for bigfoot, who for some reason is named Arak in this movie, that there's a kind hearted forest ranger named Steve Garrett and his girlfriend Karen running around trying to put things back to the way that they were so our fine furry friend can live in peace. It's not going to be easy keeping nature at bay, however, as the rich ski resort guy has employed some dastardly poachers to do his evil bidding for him. To complicate matters more, Steve's little brother has made friends with a junior version of Arak who also lives in the woods.
While this might sound like a recipe for b-movie fun, The Capture Of Bigfoot is actually pretty dull thanks to some very flat photography and pretty shoddy pacing. The film has its moments – whenever Arak is on screen it makes for a good time, and Steve's noble ambitions are cheesy enough to entertain – but sadly they are few and far between. Filmed entirely in Wisconsin, not a state really known for its bigfoot activity, this film is pretty much bottom of the barrel material and should be reserved for bigfoot movie completists only.
All in all, this set is hit or miss. Shriek Of The Mutilated and The Legend Of Bigfoot are good campy fun, while The Capture Of Bigfoot is more or less a complete bore – with Search For The Beast falling somewhere in the middle. This makes for an interesting, if not particularly good, set of films that should please fans of esoteric monster movies and urban legend type films, as long as they don't mind the microscopic budgetary limitations, bad acting, and strange qualities that abound throughout the four movies.
All four films in this set are presented in 1.33.1 fullframe transfers, which appear to be their original aspect ratios. Quality varies quite a bit, with Shriek Of The Mutilated looking better than the other three movies and The Legend Of Bigfoot looking more tattered than the rest. Search For The Beast was shot on video and as such it looks a tad soft. None of the films look particularly good here, even Shriek has its fair share of print damage, scratches and debris, but at least they're watchable.
Each of the four films is presented in an English language Dolby Digital Mono track that sounds about as good as its respective video presentation. Quality varies from film to film but for the most part dialogue is clean and clear even if there are traces of hiss throughout. Levels are usually well balanced though the odd pop can be heard at times. No alternate language dubs or subtitles of any kind are included here.
Aside from menus and chapter stops, the only supplement on this release is the inclusion of the television promo spot for Shriek Of The Mutilated which is hidden on the disc as an easy to spot Easter Egg. The menus are done up to look like tabloid newspapers, which is a nice touch.
If you've already got the single disc release of Shriek Of The Mutilated you're going to have to be a diehard bigfoot fan to want to pick up this release on the strengths of the other three features. However, if you're a fan of seventies trash movies and don't have any of the films in this set, this is a nice, cheap way to pick up four bad movies at a good price. Recommended for those who know they like this type of stuff, a rental for the rest of us.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.