Dave Wain’s essential breakdown of this week’s cavalcade of straight-to-disc treats. Step inside the DTV Junkyard…
Bigfoot is searching for a photo for his Facebook profile – “Ah crap, every one of them is blurry…”
If you thought your groan at that woeful attempt at humour was loud, then mine when two Sasquatch flicks dropped on my doormat this week was deafening. I should probably have been more optimistic, after all, recent times have been pretty kind in terms of genre movies that were based around the big fella. Last year Bobcat Goldthwait wowed us with Willow Creek (2013), while prior to that The Lost Coast Tapes (2012) was similarly effective, and let’s not forget the swell of enthusiasm for Eduardo Sanchez’s Exists too which hits our bottom shelves at the start of April.
Travis Bain’s own website tells us that his film THROWBACK endured an eight year process from script to screen, and reading about the energy, passion and commitment that went in to making it, I wish I could feel something more than indifference at the movie that I just saw. Throwback sees two pest exterminators head into the Australian bush in search of the legendary lost treasure of bushranger ‘Thunderclap Newman’. While they find the bounty that they went in search of, they also stumble across Australia’s mythical Yowie – a giant Bigfoot-esque creature who is hungry for human flesh.
With an opening quote from Tennyson, a natty orchestral score, and its Queensland setting – the initial signs were that Throwback would be an enjoyable old-school creature feature. The intentions were there as well as writer / director Bain had stated that his inspiration lay in The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) and Creature from Black Lake (1976) – lofty schlock-tastic ambitions indeed. For me though it just should simply be better than it is; the characterization seemed a little flat, and apart from ranger Rhiannon (Melanie Serafin) I found them all to be irksome individuals. Even the appearance of Commando’s Vernon Wells as Detective McNab did little to change that, instead it teeters on the brink of parody, and with Bain alluding to the influence of Val Lewton in his production notes, it seems a little misjudged.
With the requisite Billy Chainsaw quote adorning the cover – as EVERY Image Entertainment release seems to have, I really expected HUNTING THE LEGEND to be the epitome of a tired, lifeless found footage movie. Oddly enough, this generic little flick can rest easy in the knowledge that it’s the weeks’ best Bigfoot film, although that’s an accolade that doesn’t necessarily warrant hedonistic coke-fuelled celebrations, as such praise is essentially akin to coming first in a beauty competition when the only other entrant is a pink blobfish.
The film centres round Chris Copeland (playing himself) who heads to the Alabama woods five years after the mysterious death of his father who was killed while hunting. Accompanied by his friends, they soon discover the reason for his father’s death is eight feet tall and incredibly hirsute – and it’s also lying in wait for them. Directed by first-timer Justin Steeley who also takes on the roles of writer, producer, editor and several others (Bigfoot fluffer unconfirmed) it’s shot in a really effective documentary style with much of the first third of film being spent capturing eyewitness accounts from those who have come into contact with the beast.
This initial set up is admirable as it provides the film with an air of real life authenticity as it gradually builds layer after layer of credibility. With the main body of the feature being the actual forest-based hunt for the creature, there’s a modicum of disappointment as it veers disappointingly into Blair Witch territory with a forty-five minute nocturnal pursuit that gradually chips away at your patience. After the early groundwork it’s a shame to see sagging final third, but in general Hunting the Legend is prime rental fodder.