Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Who's In It: Danny Bonaduce (The Partridge Family), Barry Williams (The Brady Bunch), Bruce Davison (X-Men, the Harry and the Hendersons TV show), Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks), Howard Hesseman (WKRP in Cincinnati, Head of the Class), and ever-so-briefly Alice Cooper (Wayne's World, Scream, Dark Shadows).
What It's About: The rivalry between former members of a New Wave band comes to a head when one of them (Bonaduce) wants to tear down forest land to throw an '80s music festival and the other (Williams) tries to stop him. Then Bigfoot shows up.
How It Is: As I told a friend on Facebook, Bigfoot really unmixes my mixed feelings about The Asylum, and not in a good way. There's everything to love about the idea of Danny Bonaduce and Barry Williams hunting Bigfoot, but The Asylum managed to screw it up.
It's not just about crap effects, though there's also plenty of that. Bigfoot is a horrid, cheap looking CGI creature with maybe five or six different moves that get repeated over and over again throughout the movie. I've come to expect that of Asylum movies and usually cut them a lot of slack, but maybe that's a mistake. More on that in a minute.
What makes Bigfoot an especially miserable experience is the story and the characters. Bonaduce plays Harley Anderson, a stereotypically crass right-winger who doesn't care about the environment, while Williams' Simon Quint is a just-as-cliché tree-hugging liberal. There's no depth or subtlety to either character and though the movie seems to have an environmental theme, it has absolutely nothing to say about it. Bigfoot is supposed to represent the dangers of messing with nature, but he slaughters people so indiscriminately that it's impossible to root for him. And when Simon tries to, it just makes him look as clueless and pathetic as Harley has been saying he is. Since Harley is just as despicable, there's really no one to pull for in the film.
Sherilyn Fenn is supposed to be the audience's connection to the movie as the town's new sheriff who's just taken over the job from her dad. But she and her deputy (Davison) spend the entire movie running around helplessly and making a lot of plans that don't go anywhere. The movie could lose both of them and not be affected except for its running time.
Bigfoot isn't all bad though. The actors seem to be enjoying themselves, especially Bonaduce and Howard Hesseman (who plays the town's delightfully crooked mayor). Alice Cooper shows up for a few minutes at the music festival and is a lot of fun to watch. And my favorite character in the whole movie was a nameless guy who dressed as Bigfoot to attend the concert. Well, him and the blonde woman with novelty glasses who kept making devil signs to Alice Cooper during the show. I also dig the guts it took to go ahead and make Bigfoot a giant, rampaging monster instead of a shadowy, skulking figure.
As much as I love those elements though, they frustrate me. They're meant to prove that the film isn't taking itself seriously, with the implication being that the audience shouldn't either. That's pretty much The Asylum's trademark, right? They're known for bad movies, so it's pretty dumb to be critical of them when their movies meet that expectation.
But I don't know if lowering the bar all the way to the ground should be an excuse. As much as I like certain moments in Bigfoot, watching it wasn't a joyful experience. I genuinely like some pretty bad movies, but this isn't one of them. The bad movies I enjoy are usually earnest attempts that just fail for whatever reason: not enough money, not enough talent, whatever. Most of Bigfoot just feels lazy and uncaring and no amount of winking at the camera can make that better.
Rating: Two out of five super-sized sasquatch