Lob a stick at streaming services, and it will land on five Bigfoot films. Whether or not Bigfoot is imaginary, the tall apelike creature offers filmmakers brand-name recognition with public domain pricing, mostly thanks to the mythmaking Patterson-Gimlin film that purportedly captured a few frames of a real creature in 1967. A complete list of Bigfoot films may be as elusive as, well, a hairy man-thing in the woods. Finding the watchable within that mix is even more challenging. Let’s part a few branches and look at 5 bigfoot films that leave a deep impression or that stand above the rest. We’ll also look at a few that fail to impress or that you might say just track in muddy footprints.
The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)
Along with the PGF, Creek is a huge building block in contemporary Bigfoot mythology. It’s also a grainy, one-of-a-kind docudrama featuring real chills from Louisiana/Arkansas filmmaker and showman Charles B. Pierce. He’d later, as a screenwriter, put the words “Make my day” in Clint Eastwood’s mouth. Boggy Creek achieves most with its gritty tone and re-creations of encounters and sightings surrounding a hairy man-creature near the small town of Fouke, Arkansas. Pierce deftly provides only blurred creature glimpses or a few seconds of furry limbs here or there, never showing so much that viewer’s imaginations fail. That’s why a generation of kids were terrified by late show airings. The narrative’s loose, but the film builds to the monster’s dark-of-night assault on an isolated residence. It’s all exciting and scary and dappled with just enough but not too much of Pierce’s folksy humor. Even with amateur performances and sometimes jerky camera work, it’s a fun and engaging journey. Google the wonderfully eerie poster art to help set the tone for viewing!
No doubt inspired by the success of Boggy Creek, regional film producer Jim McCullough Sr. served up Black Lake a couple of years later. Jim Jr. penned the screenplay with low-budget horror veteran Joy N. Houck Jr. directing. Enlisting Hollywood character actors including Jack Elam and Dub Taylor plus leads Dennis Fimple and John David Carson, this Louisiana-lensed flick makes great use of the natural backdrops outside Shreveport. After an introductory water-based creature attack, Fimple and Carson head south from Chicago to prove the creature’s real. The picture is a blend of roar-in-the-night chills mixed with a charming glimpse of rural life. The guys sit down to some home cookin’, a bit of porch singin’ and even a little romance with some local girls. It’s all fun and games until the creature arrives in all his shadowy glory.
Big Legend (2018)
Too many Bigfoot flicks rely on an expedition to find Bigfoot that turns into a real encounter. Director Justin Lee eschews that paradigm and serves up the mano-a-Bigfoot battle no one knew they needed, and this time it’s personal. Army Ranger Tyler Laird (Kevin Makely) and his fiancé enjoy a camping excursion interrupted by a Bigfoot attack. Tyler survives, his fiancé disappears, and after a mental hospital stay Tyler heads back into the wilderness for answers. Who should he encounter but weird hunter Eli Verund? The two are soon in a battle for survival with a vicious creature. It’s a situation that makes for engaging woodsy action and a flick that’s just a little different. Plus, a sequel’s promised with the appearance of a mysterious Lance Henriksen!
Willow Creek (2013)
Built on the Blair Witch and perhaps a bit of that Black Lake template, Willow Creek is an understated slow burn that sends two wannabe Bigfoot documentarians (Bryce Johnson and Alexie Gilmore) on a trip through the tourist traps and commercialized communities surrounding the wilderness where the PGF was shot. Comedian-turned director Bobcat Goldthwait serves up a boldly minimalist found footage creature feature here. Hints of danger are sprinkled through an array of quirky interviews with a former ranger played by veteran actor Peter Jason, Bigfoot-inspired folk singers, and local residents with benign sighting accounts. The final act is reliant on sounds in the night and terrified expressions. It’s a study in building fear and paranoia with reactions. The finale, that mixes weirdness and dark suggestion, delivers a gut punch of an overall effect and makes for wonderful late-night-with-the-lights-off viewing.
Exists also dodges the expedition-to-find-Bigfoot hook. The college kids here just want a weekend getaway. At an uncle’s cabin. In the East Texas Big Thicket where there’s little cell service. Oh, and they’re not supposed to be there, so no one knows about it. After side-swiping something on the drive in, the group including a GoPro aficionado, are soon in a tension-filled sasquatch siege after the creature destroys their vehicle. It’s a ramped-up found footage innovation from Blair Witch Project co-director, Eduardo Sánchez, that sorta brings things full cycle since Blair was inspired by Boggy Creek. Brian Steele of Harry and the Hendersons provides a more menacing, brutal Bigfoot on a relentless mission. Eerie, edge-of-the-seat thrills make this one of the best Bigfoot films ever.
We promised you four Bigfoot films that missed the mark and we intend to make good on that. Keep reading for our bottom picks.
Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot (1976)
Heavy on its use of the expedition framework and with about as much voiceover narration as The Creeping Terror, this flick looks like the Bigfoot docudrama Roger Patterson wanted to make before capturing his legendary footage. It follows a team into the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, relies on a lot of nature footage and re-creations of Bigfoot sightings in flashback. It finds its way to some occasional scares and suspense, but it’s a bit tedious on the trek.
Curse of Bigfoot (1975)
This is cursed most of all by not being a Bigfoot film. As Bigfoot fascination boomed in the early seventies, new framing footage and inserts were added to a sixties student film, Teenagers Battle the Thing, that looks like a fifties film. It’s about an expedition that unleashes a reawakened mummy preserved by cave mist and vapor or something like that. Some moments resemble Bigfoot film incidents, but that’s about it. Most prints are muddy, the acting is amateurish, and the tale is tedious overall with protracted classroom scenes and minimal suspense.
Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues (1984)
In this outing, there’s an overabundance of director/star Charles B. Pierce’s aforementioned folksy humor. The film literally gets bogged down with mawkish performances and an extended scene of the bored female leads stuck in a jeep in a bog. Pierce himself plays another professor out to prove the creature’s existence. The twist is not bad. A redneck who shelters the professor and friends from a storm has kidnapped the Fouke monster’s offspring, but everything’s so clunky leading up to that shocking little reveal and showdown that it’s all been deservedly mocked by Mystery Science Theater 3000. Pierce himself acknowledged this was his worst film.
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Beasts, bikers, beautiful girls, plus celebrity offspring including a Mitchum and a Crosby. What could go wrong? The first and the queen mother of awful Bigfoot films, actually. There’d been some abominable snowman efforts, but Bigfoot’s place in pop culture was so new at the time of lensing that the legendary John Carradine’s character, Jasper B. Hawks, references the original 1968 Argosy magazine account of the PGF for the audience’s benefit. The unsettling discovery of a buried beast and a creepy mist-shrouded Bigfoot encampment can’t compensate for amateurish performances, inept camera work and editing, and baggy creature costumes. Riffing off prospector Albert Ostman’s Bigfoot kidnapping account, the creatures here are portrayed as a dying race looking for mates. A downed aviatrix (Joi Lansing sadly in her last performance) and a biker’s girlfriend wind up trapped. Huckster Carradine leads the rescue expedition. With all that said, it has a certain clunky charm, and, again, it’s due some points for being first.