Sony // 2005 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // May 13th, 2005
The fear is primeval. The agony is real.
Shouldn't there be at least one Baldwin brother in this movie?
Several people make a trek through a national park. They run into a CGI Bigfoot. A few die; a few live. The filmmakers never work again -- hopefully.
Let's face it, with a title like Sasquatch Hunters, there's just no way this movie could possibly be any good. As if that indicator isn't bad enough, the director has a background in kiddie animation, the writer has a background in kiddie animation, and the cast members probably have backgrounds washing cars in Redondo Beach. With that kind of pedigree, I almost feel sorry about having to write this review. I knew it was going to suck, you know it's going to suck, and guess what? It sucks.
Exactly why does it suck? Well, the easy answer is: No one involved in the making of this movie has any idea what he or she is doing. Director Fred Tepper doesn't know anything about pacing, tension, drama, or any of the basic fundamentals of visual storytelling. Writer Alain Matz culls scenes (and characters) from other creature features, stringing them together in obligatory fashion. The actors simply cannot act. The special effects and makeup are horrible. For what it's worth -- and it ain't worth much -- Sasquatch Hunters looks like something a group of junior-high students hastily threw together for their A/V class midterm.
The movie opens in standard monster flick fashion, with an attack on characters who play no part in the main story. We then meet the people who are soon to become Bigfoot fodder. There's Roger Gordon (Matt Latimore), an ex-park ranger who quit his job after he was unable to rescue some hikers from a fire. There's Dr. Helen Gilbert (Amy Shelton-White), a scientist looking for evidence of a new species of primate. There's Charles Landon (Kevin O'Connor), Gordon's former boss. There's Dr. Ethan Edwards (Gary Sturm), the paleontologist leading the expedition. There's Brian Stratton (David Zelina), a young ranger who is the group's resident horny idiot. There's Louise Keaton (Juliana Dever), Gilbert's big-boob-ed assistant and the main target of Stratton's advances. There's Janet Combs (Stacey Branscombe), a neophyte ranger who idolizes Gordon. Finally, there's Spencer Combs (Rick Holland), Janet's brother, yet another ranger. (Yeah, that's right -- five rangers to escort three people.) The group quickly sets off on a quest to find a complete skeleton of a mysterious animal Gilbert believes once lived in the park.
There follows an almost interminable series of dialogue scenes, a scene in which Stratton watches Keaton take a shower (it's not much of a scene: Keaton uses a portable Sun Shower, which means her time under the water doesn't last long, and she's wearing a frigging bikini), and a scene in which Gilbert explains exactly what she's looking for. Then we finally get to what's supposed to be the good stuff. The trekkers run across what appears to be a burial ground, uncover many more bones, and discover the carcass of a slain bear (which is actually a bearskin rug someone in the props department draped over a tree branch). That night something steals and reburies the bones, Spencer vanishes, and Janet wigs out. (Gilbert gives Janet a tranquilizer to calm her nerves, then attempts to console her, and for a minute it looks like the two women might start making out, but it doesn't happen.) The next morning, Brian and Gordon look for Spencer. Gordon has a close encounter with Bigfoot and quickly decides they all need to -- like the song says -- run like hell. Janet wants to stay behind to look for her brother. Gordon tells her she can't, but she does anyway. Want to guess what happens to her?
Okay, so Gordon goes to look for the missing Janet. The others start to worry when Gordon doesn't immediately come back, so they split up (naturally) to look for him. Brian finds Janet's body, and then he finds Gordon. Edwards is attacked and thrown into some sort of pit. Bigfoot is about to eat Edwards, but Gordon shows up, kills the beast, and rescues Edwards. The men all band together and look for the women; Landon steps on an old bear trap, after which the other men haul him into an abandoned (to say nothing of conveniently located) cabin. Gordon goes back to look for Gilbert and Keaton. He finds Gilbert, and they spot Keaton, who is using the flash on her digital camera as a flashlight. (All through this scene I kept thinking of that old Steven Wright joke about making a sandwich while the electricity's out.) Before they can reach her, however, Bigfoot shows up and whacks her. Gordon and Gilbert run back to the cabin, where they find a map of the park. Bigfoot and his buddies show up, yank Brian out a window, kill him off-screen (it's cheaper that way), and then toss him back inside.
The following morning, the survivors make a run for it. They are attacked by several of the creatures. Gordon uses a shotgun to attack their furry pursuers; some of the creatures are felled by a glancing blow, while others are somehow able to withstand a full-on blast to the chest (what's even odder is the fact that at the beginning of the movie Gordon was only carrying a tranquilizer gun). They make it back to their jeeps (two days to get to their destination in the park, 15 minutes to make it back) and drive off, leaving Bigfoot and his brethren to bury their dead.
In other words, it sucks.
The quality of the presentation matches the quality of the material. The non-anamorphic transfer is absolutely horrible. It looks like an off-air, slow-speed, VHS recording. The audio fares a little better, although this alleged 5.1 mix sounds more like two-channel mono (hollow and tinny). The only extras are previews for other crappy, low-budget, straight-to-DVD monster flicks.
During the closing credits of Sasquatch Hunters, the producers offer up thanks to John Ford, Bernard Herrmann, Willis O'Brien, and Ray Harryhausen. If you ask me, that's grounds enough for a series of lawsuits.
Guilty. Suckingly guilty.
Review content copyright © 2005 Mitchell Hattaway; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Bottom 100 Discs: #88
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R