Bigfoot. Real, or a fearsome figure of the Imagination? In this blog post, I contrast three Bigfoot monster movies to determine which is worthy of recommendation.
I love monsters, haunted houses, and the thrill of walking through a cemetery at night. I think it’s because of the positive experiences I had as a kid–my brother and I pretending to be monsters, my elderly babysitter taking my brother and I through a haunted house and protecting us, the fun of staying up late to watch Sammy Terry and Elvira’s Movie Macabre. My mom still loves Dracula, and I remember watching the old black and white flicks with her on Sunday afternoon.
In our upcoming book: The Legend of Bigfoot, Leaving His Mark On the World, we address the question, “What is Bigfoot?” because he has many faces in our world today. One of those identities is that of a monster, in which Bigfoot can be anything the creator wants. While I’ve watched several Bigfoot documentaries where Bigfoot has supposedly terrorized communities, I haven’t actually watched a fictionalized Bigfoot Monster movie (unless you count Small foot and Abominable).
Have you? Do you have a favorite?
If not, you can simply browse through the 48 pages of Amazon’s Bigfoot videos and find at least 20 that are fictional Bigfoot monster movies. The rest are documentary style films.
Maybe it’s because of the sheltering-in-place, work-from-home orders, or something entirely different, but last Saturday, I fell into a lazy, escape reality mood (the reason there was no blog last weekend). And how much farther can a person get from reality than B-movie horror? I thought it might be fun to watch 3 Bigfoot horror flicks and then compare and contrast them so that in the end, I could offer my recommendation.
I have a healthy respect for films created by those who love the craft and can do it all–the writing, directing, filming, editing, sound, etc. That has to be a ton of work and fulfilling when the project comes together as planned.
Okay, so what did I watch? The movies had to be free on Prime and a fictionalized account of Bigfoot. If I rolled my eyes a half dozen times in the first ten minutes, I gave myself permission to start a new movie (I do have limitations, but I won’t tell you how many times I started a new movie). My goal was to compare and contrast plot and plausibility, fear factor, and monster motivation.
Disclaimer: I’m not a professional reviewer or critic, so the following opinions are subjective and totally my own. Feel free to disagree in the comments. The three movies I ended up watching completely through were: “Exists”, “Willow Creek,” and “Big Legend.”
My Bigfoot Monster Movie Breakdown
- Horror, Action, Drama
- written by Jamie Nash, Eduardo Sánchez
- Directed by Eduardo Sánchez (The Blair Witch Project)
- R. Language and violence throughout. No nudity but sex is implied. Frightening scenes.
- 29% on Rotten Tomatoes
This movie had once been recommended to me as a halfway decent Bigfoot horror film in the vein of the Blair Witch Project. The audience follows lead character, Brian, as he carries around his camera, filming his friends and the surrounding forest, in hopes of capturing a glimpse of whatever creature terrified his uncle years earlier. IMDb offers this premise: “A group of friends who venture into the remote Texas woods for a party weekend find themselves stalked by Bigfoot.”
I did question why the single lead character went to the cabin with two obviously in love couples. The story implied he worked out a deal with his brother: “If you steal the key to the cabin from our Uncle (so I can take my girlfriend, best friend, and his girlfriend to a remote place) then I’ll let you tag along and play with all your camera gear.” With two couples in the cabin at night, the arrangement validated why this single guy (with all his camera gear) would sleep outside. A perfect place to be creeped out by the ghoulish forest sounds.
The fact the writer/director shows these young people having fun riding mountain bikes, swimming, and paint balling vs. constant make-out sessions, scored high in my book. Sex was implied but we didn’t have to watch it. Thank you Eduardo Sánchez.
This movie scores high on monster motivation. Throughout the movie I wanted to know why Bigfoot was attacking. I was equally satisfied and horrified with the big reveal. I didn’t find it overly scary. There were a few jump scares and some frightening and dreadful scenes, but nothing that made me want to cover my eyes. If I remember correctly, I covered my eyes a couple times in The Blair Witch Project.
2. Willow Creek
- Horror, Mystery, Thriller
- Written and Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
- Not Rated. It could be frightening for sensitive viewers and there is one scene of brief nudity. Language throughout.
- 33% on Rotten Tomatoes
Lead character, Jim, is a huge Bigfoot fan, and he’s finally found time to visit the Bigfoot capital of the world, Willow Creek, CA. Even better, he’s convinced his girlfriend, Kelly, to tag along. Their goal is to hike out to Bluff Creek and videotape Jim standing in the same place where the infamous Patterson-Gimlin film was shot.
For the most part, Kelly’s a good sport, offering a skeptical point of view as Jim geeks out over every piece of Bigfoot memorabilia and history. My favorite parts in this movie is watching couple eat a Bigfoot burger shaped like a foot. Does that really exist?Jim’s excitement is a lot of fun. And the scenery is gorgeous. Too bad they went into the forest. I couldn’t help but wonder how many people go into the vast million-acre wilderness, thinking they’re prepared. Why didn’t Jim take a compass? Or hire a guide? Kelly did try to deter Jim after the bookstore owner told them Bluff Creek was fairly remote. But then the bookstore owner also said it was pretty easy to find. I don’t think Jim suspected the brush and trees would be so overgrown and confusing. His excitement overruled his brain, and that felt plausible to me.
Once they were in the woods, the movie pace slowed a little bit too much for me. The couple sat in the dark for a long time just listening for sounds. For me, that sapped a bit of the tension. (I may or may not have dozed off). For me, this movie lacked monster motivation. I have a guess why I think Bigfoot terrorized the couple, but I’m not entirely sure. I’m actually confused. And I’m still trying to make a connection to the Patterson-Gimlin film that Jim was so crazy about. This Bigfoot certainly wasn’t the friendly Patty from the film. And maybe that was the point, but the dots don’t really connect in that direction.
3. Big Legend
- Action, Adventure, Horror
- written and directed by Justin Lee
- Not Rated. Language and violence throughout. No nudity. Frightening scenes.
- 58% on Rotten Tomatoes
After spending a year in an mental institution, Tyler Laird, an ex-army ranger, returns to the Pacific Northwest forest to uncover the truth behind his fiance’s disappearance. In the movie opening, she had been snatched away, tent and all, by a creature Laird only caught a glimpse of.
Halfway through the movie the big hairy creature destroys Laird’s truck with him in it. Laird is saved by a hunter who appears out of nowhere. The hunter takes Laird to his camp and tells the Legend of a monster once secluded to a certain region of the mountains by early inhabitants. The protective barrier holding the monster had been broken, setting the monster free. Laird is adamant he doesn’t believe in legends even though he saw his girlfriend abducted and his truck destroyed by a monstrous creature. (I’m not sure who he thinks slammed an entire tree through the truck’s window).
I suppose this was a real battle of the psyche and the reason he allowed himself to be institutionalized. Because of that set up, I can roll with it. While some B movie critics despise character driven movies, I love it and respect the added layer of depth.
There is one line in this movie that has stayed with me. The hunter asks Laird, “Did you come out here to find your fiance or to join her?” I loved this because it forced me to pause and think about the information revealed to us about Laird’s character. Was there enough credibility for me to believe this man wanted to die? It definitely kept me watching to find out if he would sacrifice himself or if he’d try to survive and apply his newfound character growth.
I did not find this moving scary, nor was I hanging tensely onto the edge of my seat, but there was some decent monster motivation with good back story.
Each of these movies presented similarities and differences in their Bigfoot monsters. In Exists, Bigfoot is clearly an animal. In Big Legend, we get the feel of a mystical/supernatural creature. With Willow Creek, I’m just not sure. My tendency is to suggest Bigfoot is portrayed as a territorial animal, but I’m not a hundred percent on that. I very much enjoyed the costumes, make up, and settings.
Of the three movies, I felt “Exists” had the best plot and fear factor. Big Legend had the best characterization (and for a good reason. You’ll see if you watch the movie). If I had to recommend one to a Bigfoot friend for entertainment purposes only, it would be Exists because the monster motivation is the most thorough and the plot is full of action and very progressive.
I didn’t mention Willow Creek as a recommendation, but I wouldn’t avoid it. There are a ton of Easter eggs, if you will, that any Bigfoot fan will enjoy. The scenery is beautiful and Jim’s character is very likable and fun. I can see why Kelly sticks with him.
Have you seen any of these Bigfoot movies?
There you have it. How I spent a day in Quarantine. How are you handling the stay-at-home orders? Have you indulged in any mindless activities you really don’t feel guilty about? For me, the stay-at-home orders were a little more difficult in the beginning. Here’s an article I wrote a month or so ago about avoiding regret during the pandemic.
Hope you’re all doing as well as can be expected. Hang in there!