Saturday, November 6, 2010

'Suburban Sasquatch' is great gory fun

Suburban Sasquatch (2004)
Starring: Sue Lynn Sanchez, Bill Ushler, Dave Bonavita, and Juan Fernandez
Director: Dave Wascavage
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

If you like old time comedies, horror movies and adventure flicks like I do, you've undoubtedly noticed that extremely fake-looking gorilla suit that seems to appear in every third movie from the 1930s and early 1940s.

Well, sixty-plus years later, the old monkey suit appears to still be in service. You can see it on display with some minor alterations in Dave Wascavage's "Suburban Sasquatch"!

In "Suburban Sasquatch", a Sasquatch (aka a Bigfoot if you're in the American Northwest, or Abomniable Snowman if you're in the Himilayas) goes on a rampage in a new housing development, because humanity has either encrouched too close to its natural habitat or because the hairy beast has a personal vendetta against John Rush (Bovavita), a police officer who moved to here after Bigfoot killed his wife some years ago. A young Native American, Talla (Sanchez), is equipped with magical arrows and handaxes and set to kill the beast before the life-force he's absorbing from his victims make him unstoppable and unkillable. Along the way, she manages to find love in the form of a reporter (Ushler) who is also on the trail of the Sasquatch.


"Suburban Sasquatch" is a campy, low-budget monster flick that brings to mind numerous drive-in movie "classics" and a number of B-movies from the 1940s and 1950s--and not just because of the cheap gorilla suit that serves as the Bigfoot costume in the flick. The acting is as bad as it was in most of those flicks, the special effects are as dodgy (even if they're 21st century dodgy... such as CGI effects that are so horrible they've obviously been MADE to be horrible), the story poorly thought out, the dialogue is delightfully cheesy, and the characters hilariously cliched.

This film is far more fun to watch than the ones it emulates, because there's a sense here that that actors and director weren't trying to make a movie we're supposed to take serious, but were instead making the exact sort of goof it turned out to be. No one part of this film is more laughably bad than any other part, and this consistency, coupled with the fact that most of the film moves along at a fast pace--it is blissfully padding-free!--makes this fun to watch if you have a soft spot for B-movies. Plus, how can you not enjoy a movie where Bigfoot rips a guy's arm off and throws it at another victim? (Of course, if Wescavage and Friends WERE making a serious monster movie, then they came up with the perfect fusion of crapitude and created an accidental piece of art.)


This is not the perfect Bad Movie, however. Although the film moves quickly in most spots, there are times where it grinds to a near-complete stop, such as when our intrepid (yet whiny) reporter is having redundant meetings with his editor or redundant badgering sessions with the cops, or when he whines to Talla about how he's a storyteller and she's a warrior. In fact, just about any scene with the reporter that doesn't also involve Talla shooting badly done computer-animation arrows at Big Foot, or Big Foot trying to rip someone limb-from-limb are dead spots that drag the film down.

Another weak point is the back story involving John Rush and his previous Big Foot encounter. The film would have been stronger if the simple approach that the new housing development was built too close to the Sasquatch's hunting grounds had been what the film had offered up. It's one that's more in keeping with the whole Native American angle, and it's one that makes more sense than the Sasquatch trailing John from his old home to his new one. (Yeah, I know I just asked for a film titled "Suburban Sasquatch" to make sense....)

For all of the low-budget badness (and, despite the fact that I'm tickled by it, it is still bad) there is one aspect of the film that impressed me. I was very impressed with the actor wearing the monkey-suit, particularly in the medium and long shots where he adopts a gait that is exactly like the creature that appears in that famous blurry footage of a Bigfoot crossing a rocky clearing (or a stream or something). The low-budget camera-tricks of the "teleporting" mystically charged Bigfoot also work in the context of the film, and they even manage to bring a little spookiness to the proceedings.

Is "Suburban Sasquatch" a film you should seek out? I think I have to come down on "no", unless you pick it up as part of of a DVD multipack (such as "Depraved Degenerates" six-pack, available from Amazon.com for $7, or the "Decrepit Crypt of Nightmares" 50 movie pack, which can be from Amazon.com for a mere $13), because I think getting the film as a stand-alone might mean you're not getting your money's worth. As much as I admire the consistent level of badness here, and the fact that Wescavage avoids many of the faults typically found in films at this level, I still can only give it a low 5 rating... and that might even be a bit generous. (I may be kinder to this film than I should be, becuase I so loved Wescavage's utterly wild "Fungicide". This movie isn't nearly as insane, however.)

If acquired economically, "Suburban Sasquatch" would be an entertaining secondary feature for a Bad Movie Night. It might be even more amusing if you have someone in your circle who is ultra-PC. (I can imagine how some of the more hysterical, super-liberal and super-sensitive types will react to the miniskirt-wearing mystic Native American warrior chick in this film.)

"Suburban Sasquatch" is currently available as part of the "Depraved Degenerates" and the "Decrepit Crypt of Nightmares" collections from Pendulum Pictures.






For more movies with guys in bad ape suits, click here to visit Shades of Gray.

11 comments:

Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein said...

I love good “bad” movies as much as anyone. I’m particularly fond of the classic bad films of Ed Wood and the low budget sci-f movies of the 50’s. Based on your mostly positive review of Suburban Sasquatch, I did what I do before renting any film: I checked out the trailer online. You were right about the “cheesy dialogue” and “clich├ęd characters” that are a prerequisite for a good “bad” movie, but I don’t think comparing 'Suburban Sasquatch' to the “B-movies from the 1940s and 1950s” is accurate. As you mention, even in the brief clips I watched on the trailer, there were several scenes where the Sasquatch attacks people and he proceeds to rip off arms, legs and even at one point pull the guts out of one hapless victim and feed them to him. Yes, the gore is cheap and in some cases just plain bad CGI, and was obviously played for humor, but it kept the film from being a satire or parody of the films of the 50’s. I’d compare it more to some of the low budget exploitation films of the 70’s by Herschell Gordon Lewis, such as The Wizard of Gore (1970) and The Gore Gore Girls (1972), both of which I’ve had the displeasure of seeing. I do love a good exploitation film and was a huge fan of the Tarantino/Rodriguez directed Grindhouse (2007).

If you are looking for a truly pitch-perfect parody/satire of the cheap horror/sci-fi films of the 40’s/50’s, look no further than the films of Larry Blamire. His The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001) and its sequel The Lost Skeleton Returns (2009) are both funny and entertaining. I recently watched both of these films and watched his “tribute” to the scary house-murder mystery genre Dark and Stormy Night (2009) and can’t recommend them to fans of 30’s/40’s/50’s films enough. You can read my review of Dark and Stormy Night at http://guardiansofthegenre.blogspot.com/2010/11/15th-annual-scare-thon-part-2-dark-and.html and I hope to post a review of the two Lost Skeleton films soon as well. If you’ve posted any reviews of Mr. Blamire films in the past, I’d love to read them Steve. Keep posting on these obscure films, because they need the attention more than the Hollywood mainstream blockbusters.

Jack Veasey said...

It sounds like I need to see this movie. I'm surprised it hasn't ended up on the SyFy channel, which seems to have quite of collection of bad Bigfoot movies. My favorite (the title escapes me, sadly -- today I have Saturday Brain Syndrome) features a Sasquatch that frequently hops huge distances to grab its human prey. The only way these scenes could be funnier would be if they used a "boing!" sound like they do in Blooper shows. This one sounds even funnier.

Steve Miller, Writer of Stuff said...

Fritz:
Your points are well made, and I see exactly what you mean. I obliquely referred to the Lewis-type films with my "drive-in 'classics' comment, but I was a bit off the mark with the "1940s and 1950s" comment. I should have said '50s and '60s, because upon further reflection that is what much of the film felt like to me. (I was dazzled by the bad ape suit when thinking of the '40s, I guess.)

I've not seen either "Lost Skeleton," but I've heard good things, so I will have to get around to them eventually.

I try to balance obscure films with well-known movies, old with contemporary, but sometimes the mix isn't quite as thorough as it perhaps should be. But I'll keep striving to get it right.

Jack:
In my distressingly large "to watch and review" stack, there is a "Sci-Fi Original" titled "Sasquatch". I'm hoping it's the one with the bouncing beastie, because that would rock. It's got Jeffry Combs, Lance Henriksen and Dee Wallace in it, so I think I'm going to move it to the top of the stack.

Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein said...

I watch very few “Sci-Fi Original“ movies, because most of them are not only cheaply made, but worst of all, they just aren’t entertaining. I did watch Sasquatch (full title: Sasquatch Mountain) for the reasons you are interested in it. Unfortunately, it was mostly an excuse to show lesser known actors portraying bank robbers on the lamb being attacked by a (mostly unseen) Sasquatch monster.

I can recommend a much older movie that features a monster related to the Sasquatch, The Yeti. The Abominable Snowman is a Hammer film released in 1957 and stars Forrest Tucker (don’t laugh) and Peter Cushing. It treats the subject with real respect and is very atmospheric like most of Hammer’s films at the time. It’s worth watching if you like films from this period.

Steve Miller, Writer of Stuff said...

That is a great movie. I've seen it, and I've reviewed it, over at The Peter Cushing Collection. :)

(And the film in my stack is titled "Abominable", but I wouldn't be surprised if it's the same movie with a different title. I'll check it out today or tomorrow.)

Dempsey Sanders said...

I think this is definately a movie marmite, you either love it or hate it, will definately have to check it out and make my own mind up, great review

Jack Veasey said...

Turns out the movie I'm talking about is actually called "Yeti" (2008). It was made for TV, and Peter Deluise is in it. It's often unintentionally hilarious. Oddly, none of the online reviews mention the monster jumping -- instead they all harp about obvious mistakes in the film that, to me, don't seem nearly so glaring.

Jack Veasey said...

...And here I am again. YouTube has a trailer for "Yeti," and they actually show the creature jumping through the air:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lbtIqUTlok&feature=related

There's a lot more jumping in the film. :-)

Steve Miller, Writer of Stuff said...

Must. Get. That. Movie!!!!!

Looks fantastic. Haha!

Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein said...

Thanks for the link to the trailer. Jack! Are you sure this was on the SyFy Channel? I think I would have watched this one if it had been. It looks like a good “bad” movie as you suggest. Hey, you accutally get to see the Yeti in this one!

Am I crazy, or did they use this plot in an episode of Sanctuary?

Jack Veasey said...

It definitely has been on SyFy. As far as Sanctuary goes -- dunno. I see it occasionally, but I don't follow it.

I will, however, follow the bouncing "Yeti" when I break down and buy the DVD. Why didn't I record this monsterpiece when I had the opportunity?