For about the last year, my good friend Charlie over at The Movie Fan House Podcast has been telling me that I have to track down “Sasquatch Hunters”. He knows my love of bad movies quite well and he’s become familiar with my other love, Bigfoot. Since I’ve been diving into Netflix so heavily here during the slow season, I figured it was finally time to check it out. Charlie was right; this was something special all right!
If I had to lay some kind of label on “Sasquatch Hunters” to give you some kind of clue as to what you’re getting into, in hindsight I’d have to say that in first two acts of this movie? This is the best Bigfoot after school special you’ve ever seen! I’m not sure where the film makers picked up the score for this movie as it’s the most odd fitting score I’ve seen in some time. There are sweeping strings and an odd air of epic adventure as the hikers in this little masterpiece-o-shit and the little up lifting sweep as the trucks drive off after the dump the hikers in the woods, it almost brought me to tears! It really didn’t match anything at all I was watching on screen but by god, that was some moving music! It went quite well the instructional video acting that was going on, like in that movie they showed in sex-ed in junior high where we finally learned that the hair growing in your no-no parts doesn’t mean you’re a freak of nature.
The setup surrounds a group of park rangers taking a paleontologist, an archaeologist and a large breasted blonde on a four day hike to find some bones. Our little group of scientists (plus record taking eye-candy/student) claim that somebody brought a bone to their museum that was found in the forest. They weren’t quite positive but they’d SWEAR it was a gorilla femur and there’s just no way that there are gorillas in the States! NO WAY! They want to find a full skeleton to continue their studies, so they call the local park ranger to escort them. He rounds up his three Barney Fife-esque deputies and shanghai’s his ex-colleague into going with. I’m still not quite positive why he had to trick this guy into coming with, but he really didn’t want to go. I think it had something to do with dead hikers and a forest fire, but I kind of passed out there at some point in the middle and may have hit my head. Still kind of fuzzy on that part.
With the combination of a corn ball orchestral score and the sterile nature of the acting going on early in this film, it really does feel like something your teacher might show you on one of those days before Christmas Break. You know those days, when the teacher had all but given up and wants nothing but his two weeks off, so he digs in the library for a movie to show the class to eat up time. Except he had the idea about a day later than all the other teachers, so all he got was some crap film about safety in the woods and how to fend off bigfoot attacks. It could have been a movie they showed you in health class two with the ham fisted flirting going on between the rangers and the college gals on hand. (I’ve always been a nerd and awkward when trying to pick up a girl. Still don’t know how I landed my wife. Even I can flirt better than these guys.) It’s that bad! The characters and weirdly stereotypical and coming across with the most comic variations of their type. Mr. ‘I don’t want to babysit no hikers’ ex-ranger is full of pent up anger that is passing through Ned Flanders. The college professor is a cuddly old grey-haired man filled with bad jokes and likes telling the ladies that they remind him of his puppy. (Note: ???) We have Janet the park ranger secretary who’s sooo excited to leave her ranger-secretary job behind and hit the woods she could almost pee. (Note: like a puppy!) Everybody is just a mish-mash of milquetoast niceness! Every Boy Scout leader ever dreams of having a troop this nice.
Unfortunately for them (but fortunate for us), they run into Harry the CGI Sasquatch and then all of our characters make a bizarre 90 degree turn and the movie changes completely!
Once our gang starts be hunted one by one, all of the characters change. The park rangers have all of sudden turned into hardened veterans who talk like they’ve served a few tours a piece in the Smokey The Bear conflict of 76. Mr. Angry-Pants the ex-ranger gives us a near flashback induced retelling of his time letting hikers die in a forest fire, they’re all packing heavy heat and rolling about in action movie barrel roles and taking pot shots into the forest. At one point? They form a phalanx! You know, that common war movie tactic where all of our heroes form a huddled circle where they all stand back to back, firing off into every direction. I had no clue they taught that as part of the Park Ranger training these days! It’s a good thing they did though because you never know when you’re going to run into a CGI Sasquatch in the forest. Mr. Cuddly Professor, he stays pretty much the same. Even when he’s angry. I’m telling you, this guy’s one hi-diddly-ho away from Ned Flanders. My person favorite though is our dopey Jr. Ranger who was trying his hardest to badly flirt with the buxom blonde student/photographer. Once the hit fits the shan here, he turns into Bruce Willis circa “Die Hard”. Wise cracks, a tough guy routine and a complimentary ‘once we make it out of here, I”m on the first plane back to Cincinnati’. Quality stuff. This is also the point that Mr. Angry Pants ex-Ranger decides to start dropping F-bombs seemingly at random throughout the rest of the film. They have to shed that whole after school special image now, we’re in grizzled war vet territory now!
Now I’m sure the question everybody is dying to hear is how the sasquatch looked. I can only assume that that’s why you would still be reading about this. He’s pretty nifty. He’s big black and shaggy and fully of blurry CGI green screen effects. When he zooms in for the attack, you can see the fine work of the Photoshop blur tool they used to erase the outline of him on the frame! At least his early appearances are like this. Sometimes he shows up as a fat guy in a fur suit with an over sized mask. Sometimes he shows up as a guy standing outside the cabin with gorilla suit arms slammed over his own, reaching in to snatch Bruce Willis. Other times, I think he’s the same fat guy in a fur suit pasted into the frame a couple of different times. Regardless; he’s all fun, all the time.
“Sasquatch Hunters”? Yah, it’s not a good movie. It is chock full of cheese though and is the perfect movie for beer night with your friends. Everybody likes to try and be their own private MST3K when they get a few drinks into themselves and company. This is a great flick to cut your teeth on! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you may even snore and drool just a little bit!
You’ll also walk away quoting the most quotable line of the entire movie; “Spencer? SPENCER! spencer…. (spencer?) Spencer!…Spencer.”
Edit: Here’s a nice bit of trivia I found on the IMDb page:
“Writer Alain Matz told director Fred Tepper that he would write the script for less money if he was given one of the smaller roles in the film. Fred decided to pay him more and keep him off screen.”