Review by Cullen Gallagher
Posted on 14 October 2008
Source Star Classics VHS
Categories 31 Days of Horror V
Like some monster terrorizing a small rustic town at night, The Curse of Bigfoot certainly isn’t a natural occurrence. Seemingly a cinematic Frankenstein’s Monster, the film feels like parts of several unfinished movies that were strung together using bits of stock footage and excessive voice-over narration. The title is certainly misleading: only a fraction of the footage has to do with Bigfoot, and there isn’t a curse anywhere to be found. Missing from the title are: a zombie; a mummy; a movie-within-a-movie; an educational lecture; an archeological dig; and Canadian logging… lots of logging, and all of it purportedly in Canada. While it is certainly possible that some writer actually planned to use these disparate elements in some narrative-Cuisinart, the lack of any sustained narrative, or even recurring characters, leads one to suspect that The Curse of Bigfoot is indeed a monster movie of the truest sort—a real mutant creation… more so than any of the creatures in the movie.
But there’s a place for movies like this. With the unmistakable look of a low-budget ’70s movie, Bigfoot ranks solid in the nostalgia category—the sandy yellow tones and muted blues and greens that color-date the movie are an affectionate reminder of cinematic days gone by. The obviousness of its desperate construction is another plus. Same thing with the barely emotive acting combined with overly expositional and unnecessary dialog. The real treat, though, is the ambiguous monster costume that makes its appearance during the film’s final minutes. Looking like a mess of papier-mâché and yarn as (dis)organized by a twelve-year-old, it’s uncertain whether the monster is Bigfoot or a mummy. To clarify: an escaped mummy, which we haven’t seen, is terrorizing the town. And then, from the bushes, comes this slightly hairy figure with bulging eyes. Is this the Bigfoot alluded to in the title? I vaguely remember glimpsing it in the opening sequence, but it certainly doesn’t resemble the ape-like figure that also had a brief cameo. The lack of specificity only intensifies the joy-potential in such a creation.
The movie begins at the dawn of time. Beasts walk the earth. Then comes man, but the beasts have not gone. The beasts prey upon man. And then one of the beasts is in a small suburban town in the 20th century, hiding in the bushes. This beast, we now discover, is more accurately a zombie in the George Romero mold. A dog barks, its owner comes out and sweet-talks it with promises of hunting and jackrabbits the following day. From behind her, the zombie appears. Over shots of the barking dog are the woman’s screams as she is murdered.
Cut to a professor folding a movie screen at the front of a classroom. This, he explains, is an archetypical Hollywood monster movie. (Most monster movies I’ve seen don’t take their narrative cues from Genesis.) Though his lecture resembles nothing that would ever be taught in a legitimate high school setting (what school has classes about griffins and supernatural monsters?), in its own cheesy way it manages to convey a genuine affection for the horror film:
Here we have the classic example of the Hollywood monster. The movie studios turned out movies like these by the hundreds in the ’50s and early ’60s. Werewolves. Vampires. Monsters created by atomic radiation. Creatures from outer space. They all did their part to paralyze the kids at the Saturday matinee… and to give the girl an excuse to move as close as possible to the boy at the drive-in theater. Now these horror films of the ’50s seem corny today, just as unbelievable as the ancient sea monsters we’ve been studying. But don’t get the idea that monsters are a thing of the past. All of you have seen recent films about the devil, and demon possession. Even the film about the great white shark was a monster story of sorts, a modern day sea monster. These films mange to give all of us a few genuine moments of fear. Yes, man has always had his monsters.
In a better film, this could be a meta-moment, when the character reflects upon the movie in which he appears. But, as The Curse of Bigfoot doesn’t provide any “genuine moments of fear,” nor any excuse for a girl to snuggle close to a boy (unless its to whisper some satirical joke at the film’s expense), such a lecture really serves only as a tenuous bridge between Curse’s various unrelated plotlines.
The professor continues lecturing, including a lengthy digression about how logging and clear-cutting in Canada is intruding on Bigfoot’s property, thus forcing the beast out into the open. A guest lecturer then visits the class and indulges in a lengthy story that leads into a flashback that occupies sixty of the film’s ninety minutes. He tells of an archeological expedition with his students to dig up some ancient Native American relics. This dig uncovers a mummy that, of course, miraculously awakens and begins to terrorize the town. Between the dig and the terror, however, is an hour of absolute drudgery. Banal dialog and uninspired scenes, not to mention a supreme lack of Bigfootery, lower the film to sub-enjoyable levels. It then takes half an hour for the sheriff, professor, and students to set a trap for the mummy (which turns out to be Bigfoot, kind of), and only about one minute for the final showdown between man and monster. As a climax, it is most certainly anticlimactic. Were it not for the wonderfully cheap costume, it would not be worthwhile at all. But, for those brief moments of cheap glory, it’s worth the wait… even if the wait is made slightly less unbearable by use of the fast-forward button.
The Dead Don’t Die1975
The Brides Wore Blood1972
Girl in Room 2A1973
Nude for Satan1974
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare1987
Brides of the Beast1968
Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye1973
The Curse of Bigfoot1976
Dark Night of the Scarecrow1981
Moon in Scorpio1987
The Legend of Hell House1973
Grave of the Vampire1974
Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake1975
Attack of the Beast Creatures1985
Humanoids from the Deep1980