The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Our friend Simon at Explosive Action mentioned this one to me after I'd reviewed another film from The Asylum. He told me it had Bigfoot with Danny Bonaduce and Barry Williams, and I knew from there I was sold. I put it in my Instant queue, but now Netflix is telling me they're about to dump it, so I better get to it now if I'm gonna, which means I guess I'm finally gonna. Also, our friends at TarsTarkas.net looked at this one too, so you can go there to see what they had to say.
Bigfoot takes place in Deadwood, South Dakota, not far from Mt. Rushmore. Local DJ and 80s pop idol Danny Bonaduce is planning a big 80s flashback concert, and his former co-80s pop idol Barry Williams is protesting his cutting down national forest lands to do it. Williams is not the only one upset with this concert. That's right, Bigfoot has something to say too, but he can only communicate through deadly violence. Now we're at an impasse, because town mayor Howard Hessman wants the show to bring in tourism dollars, while acting sheriff Sherilyn Fenn and her co-sheriff Bruce Davison (who also directs) want to keep the people of the town safe. Will they succeed?
This was a ton of fun. It was definitely a send-up of 50s and 60s monster flicks, to the point that Bigfoot, though CG, moved like a Harryhausen creation. And I loved that they evoked King Kong and North by Northwest at the end. Bonaduce was great as the heel, and Williams was great as the equally egotistical environmentalist. Bigfoot was a little heavy with the kills, and it was an interesting take to make him more like a King Kong than a Sasquatch, but, again, it played into the fun. The Asylum got this one right.
The review at TarsTarkas.net mentioned that this felt like an unofficial sequel to Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, between the teen idols fighting, and the music cameo biting it. In the former, we had 80s idols Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, plus Mickey Dolenz as the cameo; in this one we have 70s idols Bonaduce and Williams, plus Alice Cooper as the cameo. If anything, it makes for a fun paradigm; but in both cases, they needed to make it work beyond the gimmick, from the writing to the idols playing their parts, and they did. I think Mega Python is the better film, but together they'd make for a fantastic double feature. Another interesting thing to consider is that Bonaduce and Williams, because they were so young as teen idols in the 70s, actually could've been pop stars in the 80s too. Hell, they're both younger than Huey Lewis.
Okay all you Twin Peaks kids out there, I won't leave you hanging anymore. Yes, this has Sherilyn Fenn in it. The funny thing for us Gen X-ers is that we saw her on Twin Peaks and thought "hey, she was in Just One of the Guys", and now all the Millennials that were born in the 90s and just picked up Twin Peaks a few years ago see Just One of the Guys and think "hey, it's Audrey Horne!" Anyway, it's 2012, and Fenn is playing neither of those characters, she's playing a no-nonsense cop from Oklahoma City who had to come home and fill in as sheriff after her father passed away. She has no time for either Bonaduce or Williams, but when this Bigfoot situation arises, she's equal to the task. I don't know how Twin Peaks fans will feel about seeing her in this, but I thought she was great.
We had a few other notable names here. Howard Hessman, as I mentioned above, played the mayor. Very different from the usual counter culture characters he plays. Growing up, my parents watched reruns of WKRP in Cincinnati, and later I remember him having new shows on TV, both Head of the Class and The New WKRP in Cincinnati. Another fun addition in this film. Then we had Bruce Davison, who played both the other sheriff, and directed. I loved how his character was like "we need to get out of here and leave this to the national guard", but Fenn is like "no, we need to take care of this", and he gives her the look that says "that means I'm dead." I love that kind of awareness for a character like his. Then we had Andre Royo as the hunter. Instead of being killed by Bigfoot, he's killed by the national guard when he's trying to run from Bigfoot, I think a thinly veiled joke about the police's propensity to shoot first and ask questions later when a person of color is involved. Stephanie Sarreal Park played Williams's girlfriend. He had a de facto harem of younger women in his environmentalist collective, but she was the one that he was dating. She doesn't have many more film roles to her credit, but she's good here as the earnest, yet naive young woman who believes in Williams's fight. As I mentioned above, Alice Cooper has a small cameo before he's punted into the forest by Bigfoot. We last saw him in Monster Dog singing about "Identity Crises". Finally, there was a woman in Williams's harem who was killed off by Bigfoot early on, yet who comes back in subsequent scenes. It was a funny send-up of low-budget films-- if it was a send up, that is.
Finally, Mt. Rushmore features prominently in this, especially at the end as it channels North by Northwest. I've never been, never even been close to South Dakota. Of course, this film wasn't shot close to it either, it was shot in Washington, but I digress. It would be nice to go sometime though. America is such a big country, and there are so many places I've never been to, and may never see. That's why it's great that I have The Asylum to show them to me in their movies with a King Kong style CG Bigfoot scaling them.
Once this is dumped on Instant, DVD on Amazon is the only way to get it. I wouldn't do it that way, it's probably better to keep an eye on SyFy for it, because this was one of those that SyFy snatched up and aired before it was released on DVD-- that DTV into Made for TV type of thing. If you can set the DVR, that would be the way to go, because it's a lot of fun, and like Mt. Rushmore, worth seeing at least once.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1876261/