NOT Available on DVD: BIGFOOT
Bigfoot (aka: Sasquatch), the elusive North American apeman whose alleged sightings sparked a craze that swept the nation in the 1970′s, inspired a string of cheap movies that were rushed into theatres then to cash in on the fad. THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK (1972), SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED (1974), CURSE OF BIGFOOT (1976) SASQUATCH, THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT (1977) all made a quick buck and who can forget the ‘Bigfoot and Wildboy’ TV series and the Bigfoot episode of ‘The Six Million Dolar Man’ (and c’mon, tell me Chewbacca wasn’t inspired by the big hairy guy as well) but none were as gloriously goofy as the low-rent 1970 campfest BIGFOOT. A low-budget quickie loaded with Indians, biker gangs, redneck cops, and a whole family of clumsy bigfeet, BIGFOOT is about ten times more entertaining than it has any right to be, but it is NOT available on DVD.
BIGFOOT opens with Joi Lansing as a sexy blonde pilot crash-landing her small plane in the mountains, then promptly removing her flight suit to reveal skimpy lingerie underneath. Bigfoot’s wandering by, spots her bouncing through the woods, so grabs her and ties her to a nearby tree where she spends most of the rest of the film. Meanwhile the film’s hero Rick (Christopher Mitchum) and his girlfriend Chris (Judy Jordan) are riding with a gang of unwashed bikers. They wander off from the group to make out, discover a Sasquatch burial ground, and are attacked by the hairy beast who soon has two busty babes tied to trees (I guess Bigfoot learned how to tie knots in Boy Scouts). The Bigfoot family consists of one mean male, three females, and one goofy-looking baby (there’s reference to Bigfoot wanting human women for breeding purposes – the poster’s tagline is “Breeds with anything!” – so this toddler must be some kind of human/bigfoot mongrel) Rick can’t convince the local redneck sheriff of his story, but a pair of elderly traveling salesmen (John Mitchum and John Carradine) believe him and figure if they can capture Bigfoot, they’ll get rich. Rick, the bikers, the old coots, and a bear descend on the Bigfoot family camp for the action-packed climax.
For a Z-grade schlock horror of this type, BIGFOOT provides a good deal of amusement along the way. It’s a hopeless train wreck but the lunacy is piled high and it’s a whole lot of fun if viewed with the right attitude. Director Robert Slatzer’s only previous feature was the shoddy biker film THE HELLCATS in 1967 (ultimately MST3K fodder), He does a decent enough job moving the film along at a good clip but not fast enough to cover the to the rock-bottom production values. The wobbly sets look like they are made of paper mache and the shaggy Bigfoot costumes looks like they were made from ratty brown rugs and plastic fright teeth. Slatzer shoots endless dizzying filler of the bikers riding back and forth on their unintimidating mid-size Yamahas (a Yamaha dealership is listed in the opening credits! – and watch for Haji, who appeared in six Russ Meyer films including FASTER PUSSYCAT KILL KILL in these riding scenes, though she has no lines). BIGFOOT is populated with colorful characters and a great B-movie cast. John Carradine, who spent the 70′s co-starring in tons of dreck like this, has the best lines, ridiculously paraphrasing KING KONG with “It was beauty did him in” and “Ah…Beauty and the Beast!” Ken Maynard was a popular western star in the 1930′s and in BIGFOOT he’s plays the owner of a diner who has vintage Ken Maynard movie posters tacked on his wall. Robert Mitchum’s son Chris inherited his father’s sleepy eyes but it just makes him look half asleep as he woodenly plays the unconvincing biker hero (and his uncle John is one of the old salesmen). Lindsay Crosby, who plays the leader of the biker gang, was the son of Bing Crosby and performed music with his three brothers, known as “The Crosby Boys” in the 1950′s. Crosby committed suicide in 1989 (as did one of his brothers a couple of years later). Joi Lansing was a stunning, shapely blonde who had been a popular model, appearing in many men’s magazines in the 50′s and 60′s, and was romantically linked to Frank Sinatra. She had played the dancer who dies at the end of the famous first tracking shot in Orson Welle’s TOUCH OF EVIL in 1958. She mostly worked in television and it’s her participation that gives BIGFOOT some cult status but sadly it was her final film as she died of breast cancer before it was released. I can remember seeing TV commercials for BIGFOOT as a kid and thought it looked exciting but never caught up with it until I saw a nice 16mm print screened at a Cinema Wasteland Convention a couple of years ago. It was released briefly in the early 80′s on VHS but, as of this writing is still MIA on DVD.