Eyes Wild Shut #003 — Bigfoot’s Bride (2021), American Scarecrow (2020) & A Million Hits (2016)

In the third instalment in his new ongoing series, Dave dives into the bottomless library of low-budget distributor Wild Eye Releasing and draws attention to some little-known curiosities that are free to stream via Tubi.

“If I had to think, I’d say the main influences would be The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), Deliverance (1972) in terms of aesthetics, Night of the Demon (1983), a film that no-one has seen called Lake Nowhere (2014), and The Wild Man of the Navidad (2008).”

A thrilling quintet recited by writer, director, and all-round dogsbody Erick Wofford, whose new film, BIGFOOT’S BRIDE (2021), has just been added to Tubi. It’s a lofty collection of movies to aspire to, and he inevitably falls short – but irrespective of its shortcomings, the filmmaker has produced an incredibly unique Bigfoot picture that stands out among a crowded and occasionally bland sub-genre.

Bigfoot (played by Wofford’s brother Daniel) is a busy guy. He has hunters to kill, a fisherman to maim, and food to forage. But when his roving eye is caught by the delectable Heather (Jessica Megan Rivera) he knows that nothing will come between his beastly self and the love of his life.

With a little bit of Frankenstein (1931) mixed with a dash of King Kong (1933), Wofford’s spin on the standard monster movie is a welcome change. His resources might be a few quid under five grand, but Wofford impresses with some of the best sound design I’ve heard on a no-budget feature, and a score that somehow successfully blends electro with Americana.

“The opening tune was composed by Nat Keefe and the Bow Ties,” recalls the director. “I’m friends with Nat, and he gave me permission to look through his music catalogue and that song just kinda worked perfectly for what I wanted. The music was very important to me in that I wanted a very catchy yet totally original sound for the film with a lot of different styles mixed in. Doing this with a zero budget was a bit tricky and it’s why I had to resort to making my own tracks, beats, and effects too.”

Underwater sequences were filmed on a GoPro, drone shots on a DJI Spark and much of the movie is done on a Panasonic Lumix GH4, and it’s this commitment to quality that lifts Bigfoot’s Bride from the doldrums of streaming hell. It’s also Wofford’s desire to be different that makes it so uncommon, and by dressing his creature in workmen’s overalls, he’s created a being that has a degree of fluidity which flies from your traditional Bigfoot to a genetic mutation who’s a little bit Toxie.

For a seventy-eight-minute feature, it’s guilty of a few meandering moments, and there’s also a little CGI blood-spatter which left me cold – especially as there’s some admirable practical gore. However, the countryside of Georgia goes a long way in masking the inadequacies, and you have to admit that if AGFA dug this up from 1987 and put it on Blu-ray, it would likely mobilise an army of cheerleaders declaring their long-standing love of it. As it is, Bigfoot’s Bride is pretty much lost in the bowels of Tubi – but it shouldn’t be, and you owe it for your curiosity to get the better of you.

As the associate producer of Creepozoids (1987),and with a cameo in Leather Jacket Love Story (1997), there was no way that I was going to ignore the new movie by Steve Lustgarten: an important member of the David DeCoteau universe and a close friend of the maestro. It’s been a while since we’ve seen him – seventeen years to be precise, when he belatedly put his hat into the millennial ‘urban horror’ trend with Vampz (2004). But his latest is AMERICAN SCARECROW (2020) and it takes us into farming country with a spot of renovation.

Drew Stone is having a bad time. He’s the owner of a construction company which has been stiffed on their last job when the developer did a runner, leaving him penniless and going cap in hand to the bank. As it happens, there is a job going – albeit out in the sticks on a foreclosed homestead that just happens to reside on Native American land. Nevertheless, Drew heads out there with his four-person crew and sets to work, encountering a presence that’s none-too-keen on welcoming visitors…

At its core, the concept of a rundown farm in the middle of some lush countryside should get your attention, but as with any film that’s shot for chump change it needs to be approached with a little patience. Gary Lumpp’s screenplay evolves slowly, but in doing so it gives Drew and co. room to breathe, so by the time the Jason-esque monster appears for a mayhem-stacked final reel, there’s a well-established bond between viewer and victims.

Seemingly ripping a page from the DeCoteau handbook, the end credits suggest that Lustgarten managed to shoot this picture as a three-man team (himself, plus Tim Bezy and Loren C. Winkler covering additional cameras). If that’s the case, his experience shines through, avoiding all the standard pratfalls of poor sound and awkward blocking – although with the absence of an IMDb page and cast list [Schlock Pit NB: we’ve requested one from the director], it would have been nice to tip my hat towards those on-screen and the characters they played.

Most of the social media-themed movies that have surfaced in the last decade are well worth a look. From Hacked (2013) and Unfriended (2014) to Friend Request (2016), they’ve all offered an eerie spin on the billionaire-backed behemoths that seem to rule our waking day. A MILLION HITS (2016) is no exception – yet Janet Harvey’s cheap n’ chilling drama has flown so far under the radar that it’s practically a grass cutter.

Ashley (Tess Cline) is a ‘scene queen’ with a bad attitude and a clique of sycophants. Her life is dominated by how many hits she has on her vacuous social media channel. She’s also a bully, and her latest target, Amy (Kate St. Clair), winds up in hospital after a particularly vicious attack, which naturally was caught on camera by her lackey, Jess (Monica Perez). Thankfully, Jess is beginning to see the effects of her mate’s destructive tendencies – but is she able to stand up to her before things get dangerously out of control?

Running at a sprightly seventy minutes, Harvey’s film is a timely indictment of how the internet can foster a more virulent form of bullying. “It’s just two girls teasing each other on the internet,” shrugs the school’s headmaster (David Roland Strong). “It’s not like they’re bringing guns to school”. Indeed – but thankfully this three-hander doesn’t soften the impact of Ash’s narcissism-fuelled brutality, with Cline portraying her with a snarling swagger. However, it’s Perez who’s the standout – spinning the plates of vulnerability, single-mindedness, and turmoil to make Jess iconic, and to make A Million Hits linger in you mind long after you watched it.

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