Bigfoot (1970)

Bigfoot_(1969)‘Been strange doings in them mountains… ‘specially at night…’

The local Sasquatch and his family kidnap a pilot who has crashed her plane and the girlfriend of the leader of a local biker gang. Luckily, travelling salesman (and ex-student of archaeology) John Carradine is in the locality and the biker is Robert Mitchum’s son in a funky bandanna.

Low budget stupidity made to cash in on the famous Patterson film of ‘the real Bigfoot’, which has only been debunked as a hoax in recent years. The pilot is played by Joi Lansing, a singer and actress who had already appeared with Carradine in the world’s greatest ever country music/horror hybrid film ‘Hillbillys in a Haunted House’ (1967). Her plane gets into difficulties when offscreen stage hands begin rocking it from side to side and the camera zooms shakily into close ups of the engines accompanied by grinding mechanical noises. Personally, I think it was probably the weight of her magnificent false eyelashes that brought the plane down.

Local law enforcement is skeptical about the existence of our furry friends of course, although the Sheriff does go on to mention that there have been many sightings over the years. He mentions that quite a lot actually. The bikers get the obligatory, and very tame, ‘freak out’ party sequence but spend most of their time just riding their bikes through the forest. They do that quite a lot actually. Matching between location and set shooting is poor and it’s fairly apparent that neither Carradine nor Lansing did any hiking in the mountains. In fact, one of the biker girls is a reasonable double for Lansing so may have been used in the long shots.

'Ooh, I like your dress! Do you think they'd have it in my size?'

‘Ooh, I like your dress! Do you think they’d have it in my size?’

The Sasquatch themselves are none too impressive either; one or them seems to be wearing a furry jacket and trousers combo as he jumps down on our hapless heroes from above. They are captured and taken to a clearing where Lansing and biker girl are tied to fake saplings. Lansing wears quite a revealing outfit for a pilot but this is a deliberate artistic choice by the filmmakers. No, not just the obvious exploitation angle, they are going for something here.

You see, great grandaddy Sasquatch is out there in the forest and Lansing is offered up to him, tied between two trees. Big Hairy appears and fights a dozy bear as Lansing screams (a shot that crops up several times over the next 20 minutes – sometimes even when it’s relevant). Do you see what it is yet? Yes, it’s ‘King Kong’ (1933) of course! This is confirmed by Carradine’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ payoff line at the climax. Classic. Oh, and Sigourney Weaver’s uncle plays a forest ranger.

By the bitter end, you won’t be rooting for either the hunters or the hunted, you’ll just be rooting for the credits to roll. Or should that be the debits?

The final caption says: ‘The End…or this is the beginning?’ Sequel? You’re ‘avin’ a larf, mate!

Buy the poster of ‘Bigfoot’ here!

Teenagers Battle The Thing (1958) / Curse of Bigfoot (1972)

Teenagers_Battle_The_Thing_(1958)‘Boy, I sure could go for a bottle of pop!’

A high school archaeological expedition digging in an ancient Indian burial ground in the mountains discover the tomb of a dead mummy. Unfortunately, he’s not very pleased at being woken up.

‘Teenagers Battle The Thing’ (1958) is a curiosity; a film so obscure that it doesn’t even appear on the IMDB in its own right. It was directed by Don Fields, written by JT Fields and features a cast of non-professional actors including ‘star’ Bob Clymire. Either Don or JT (opinions vary) played the archaeology teacher, Professor Bill Wyman (presumably just before he started playing bass with the Rolling Stones).

It’s a familiar low budget premise; lots of chat for the first half hour or so followed by limited monster hi-jinks in the second half. The mummy is a bloke wandering about in a papier mâché mask (complete with cardboard fangs) and attacks a woman who stands up but then has to sit down again to get her head back in the shot. Of overwhelming interest is the fact that ‘the orange and lemon groves in this part of the country are extensive’.

It’s easy to assume that this film just sat on the shelf in someone’s garage for 18 years but apparently it did get a limited local release. What we know for sure is that Don & JT Fields never forgot it. In 1972, now known as Dave & James Flocker, they brought us ‘Curse of Bigfoot’ (1972) and whichever of the brothers played the teacher in the original film reprised his role almost two decades later. This is for the very sound financial reason of using the entire 58 minutes of ‘Teenagers Battle The Thing’ (1958) as a flashback in the ‘new’ movie!

'It's not a mummy, you idiot, it's Bigfoot! What do you mean it doesn't look like either!'

‘It’s not a mummy, you idiot, it’s Bigfoot! What do you mean it doesn’t look like either?!’

Opening with some of the old footage – now in colour! – we switch to a strange, shadowy figure attacking a woman at an isolated house, which never connects with anything else that we see. From there we cut to students in class, attending a strange lecture about mythical beasts. Who knows what subject they are supposed to be learning but the tutor gives us the lowdown on Bigfoot, which is extremely helpful.

Apparently, our hairy hero is often seen around logging operations so we get a good 5 minutes library film of guys in hard hats cutting down trees, etc. Then we follow two hunters wandering about aimlessly in the woods for a while and then we’re back in the classroom with the tutor introducing Dave/Don or JT/James to ‘tell his story.’ Then the rest of the film is just all the footage of ‘Teenagers Battle the Thing’ (1958)’.

It’s zero budget filmmaking at its finest. But, hang on, I know what you’re thinking here. You’re thinking what has an ancient Indian mummy monster go to do with Bigfoot? Not a lot, obviously. He isn’t hairy for a start. So how did the filmmakers get around that? Simple: they don’t. They just don’t bother.

And neither should you.

Buy ‘Curse of Bigfoot’ here