Bigfoot for Kids: Bigfoot (2009) and Cry Wilderness (1987)


There’s no shortage of killer-Sasquatch movies. Some are silly, some are scary, some are rampantly gory. Some are just plain awful. They’re good old-fashioned monster movies. No rhyme, not a lot of reason, and a whole lot of chasing and roaring and screaming.

Movie monsters for the most part exist to chase and roar and rampage. Even if we get some backstory or a rationale, it’s secondary. The monster is still a monster. We’re not there for the warm fuzzies.

Bigfoot is more than a monster. Maybe it’s because he’s a primate. He’s family, of a sort. He’s a giant, but he’s not seriously off the scale. He’s not King Kong. He’s still within semi-reasonable limits.

In some traditions he is dangerous and he may kill or eat you. But for the most part he’s a benign creature. Huge, yes; powerful, for sure. He’s rarely murderous and he’s not known for being destructive. He just wants to be left alone.

Kids’ movies love him. I wasn’t in the mood this week for animated features—Abominable and its ilk—so I went looking for live-action Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti adventures with kid protagonists. They needed not to be monster movies; I wanted friendly Bigfoot. Harry and the Hendersons, but centering the kids.

My search came to a somewhat abrupt halt with the straightforwardly-titled Bigfoot. I’m not sure if it’s even a B movie. D? E? Z? I recognize the mom’s face (I think) from somewhere in the low-budget-movie universe, but there isn’t a recognizable name in the cast. Production values aren’t bad; I’ve seen worse in prime-time TV.

It’s set in California, and the actors are modeling-school pretty, except the villains, who are determinedly average. The kids live in mansions but act as if they’re just normal ordinary houses. They’re all supposed to be high-school freshmen, but they’re awfully mature for their ages.

The plot is plugged straight into the standard kids’-movie template. Young Percy has a crush on gorgeous classmate Madison. Best friend Leonard is outspokenly skeptical. Things come to a head when a couple of rednecks bully Madison at the local teen hangout. Percy comes to her rescue, does heroic and spectacular things with a bike, and takes off pursued by rednecks in big ugly truck.

The chase scene ends with a wipeout, but by then Percy has got rid of the rednecks. He comes to to find himself being inspected by a huge, hairy creature with sweet and very human blue eyes and serious beard and mustache. Percy immediately recognizes him as Bigfoot, and proceeds to make friends with him.

Bigfoot is a wildfire refugee, driven into human territory and apparently unable to find his way back. Percy sneaks out to the woods to hang with him and bring him food (he’s a vegetarian, Percy discovers), but that doesn’t last long—Percy is caught claiming to be with Leonard when he’s with Bigfoot, then enlists Madison to lie for him. But Madison wants to know what she’s lying for. Percy tells her about Bigfoot; she refuses to believe him, and breaks off their brand-new romance.

“Nobody in the world believes in my mythical friend” is a trope of alien-monster-cryptid kidflicks (ET, anyone?). So is “evil rednecks (or scientists, hunters, government forces) capture my alien friend and we kids have to rescue him.” Bonus points for cool parents who also disbelieve, but ultimately get on board, with extra points for dad who is, very conveniently, a doctor.

This is the ultimate soft and fuzzy Sasquatch. He’s not stinky. He’s not mean or scary. He’s not even especially huge, though he has super strength and can fight off a tranquilizer dose that would, says Redneck Number One, take out an elephant. He seems to be about as bright as a chimp or an orangutan; he enjoys watching movies, complete with popcorn, and he catches on to things like riding in the back of a pickup truck and being transported in a Winnebago.

1987’s Cry Wilderness has bigger aspirations (and zero, that’s zip nope nada, female characters). Its boy hero is much younger, but just as affluent: he attends a fancy boarding school with a stern and skeptical but not outright evil teacher. His father is a forest ranger, which means there must be family money, but that’s my writer brain getting in my way.

Young Paul made friends with Bigfoot while spending summer vacation with his dad. Now he’s back in school, and Bigfoot has come to warn him that his dad is in danger. Of course his teacher doesn’t believe him, and the other kids aren’t even on the radar.

He sneaks out of school and hitchhikes to the wilderness, where the plot tangles itself into incoherence. There’s a big game hunter, a massive hunt for an escaped tiger, a cave-in that nearly kills Paul’s dad, and some cringeworthy Native American nonsense.

Bigfoot is caught up in the nonsense. Paul used to feed him Coke in cans, which Bigfoot crushed and scattered around his lair. He’s not nearly as cuddly as the 2009 model: he’s genuinely gigantic and slightly less shaggy, and his hair is black rather than  light brown. But he has the same human-like blue eyes.

He seems to be higher on the intelligence scale than Percy’s furry friend. He communicates with Paul, and Paul gave him a radio, which he learned how to use. We don’t see as much of him as we do of Percy’s Bigfoot; after the first scene, in which we’re shown a model of him in a natural-history museum, labeled MISSING LINK, we only catch glimpses. Mostly he exists through what Percy says about him, in the face of universal disbelief.

This version of Bigfoot is more of a fantasy creature than a realistic denizen of the deep wilderness. He gives Paul a pendant with supernatural powers, which lights up when it’s activated, and he’s part of a shaman’s collection of magical animals, including a wolf and a bird that’s supposed to be a bald eagle but I don’t think that’s what it was born as.

Like Percy’s Bigfoot, Paul’s friend is a gentle giant. The monsters in these films are human. Bigfoot is a benevolent force, loyal and kind. He’s more truly humane than the humans who claim to have originated the virtue. icon-paragraph-end



Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top