Documentary, Family, Monsters

In Search of Bigfoot (1975)/Cry Wilderness (1986)

Comments Off on In Search of Bigfoot (1975)/Cry Wilderness (1986) 05 January 2015

In Search of Bigfoot-Cry Wilderness coverStudio: Vinegar Syndrome

Theatrical Release: June 1976/February 1987

DVD Release: August 12th, 2014

Rating: UnRated

Directed by Lawrence Crowley, William F. Miller/Jay Schlossberg-Cohen

Review by Craig Sorensen

Finally, someone is doing Bigfoot films some justice.  This oft maligned film genre has had an extremely spotty history on home video.  Filled with video tape sourced, grey market DVDs, a lot of these films have an unnecessarily bad rap.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’ve seen a really great Bigfoot movie.  But a few of them are highly entertaining (Night of the Demon).  Thankfully Vinegar Syndrome were able to take a break from flooding the market with pornography to pluck a few of these films from obscurity for their continuing Drive-In Collection.  Hopefully they won’t be the last, although I don’t think I’ll hold my breath waiting for the Criterion Collection release of Legend of Boggy Creak

In Search of Bigfoot 01

First up is In Search of Bigfoot, a somewhat questionable ‘documentary’ about, um, the search for Bigfoot.  We follow Bob Morgan (writer/director of Blood Stalkers and star of other, similar Bigfoot docs like Bigfoot: Man or Beast and The Mysterious Monsters) as he puts together a team of the best Bigfoot hunters and scientists that the ‘70s had to offer.  Along the way they get to interview plenty of locals with their own stories of the big, smelly apeman.  Of course, like most films of this type, they don’t end up finding Bigfoot.  Hopefully that’s not too much of a spoiler.  But you do get lots of nature footage  padding and bad harmonica music so I’ll call it a draw.

In Search of Bigfoot 02

In Search of Bigfoot is pretty standard for a ‘70s Bigfoot documentary.  They really cranked out these types of films during that decade.  If you’ve seen your fair share of Schick-Sun Classics or other similar docs then you should probably know what you’re getting into.  Director Lawrence Crowley had already directed one Bigfoot doc before this, Bigfoot: Man or Beast.  For some reason both of these films would be edited together for television.  Supposedly this is the first time that the theatrical cut of the film has been released on home video. 

In Search of Bigfoot 03

The second feature is the real reason to pick up this disc.  Cry Wilderness is some supreme weirdness.  Paul (Eric Foster of Grandmother’s House) is a precocious young kid at some kind of boarding school I guess.  Anyway, he is expelled because he refuses to say that Bigfoot isn’t real.  It seems that last summer Paul met Bigfoot and got him addicted to Coca-Cola and rock n’roll music.  In return Bigfoot gave Paul a magic medallion.  I’m not sure what it does other than glow every once in a while but Paul seems to like it so I guess it’s OK.  So Paul is expelled and has to hitchhike (!) back home to see his dad (Maurice Grandmaison of Night Train to Terror) and his friend Jim (John Tallman of Lust for Freedom).  Seems that there is some kind of wild animal wrecking havoc throughout the country side and Paul’s dad, as the resident forest ranger, has to find it before it hurts anyone else.  The sheriff and the mayor aren’t too pleased with the progress being made so they call in their own man, Morgan to get the job done.  Is Bigfoot responsible for this rampage?  Will Paul be able to find his friend and warn him in time?  Why does Morgan eat his chicken so fevered?

Cry Wilderness 05

So the film sounds like a jumble of ‘80s family film clichés, and it is for sure, but the film makes some very strange choices.  Almost all of the adults have had their dialog badly dubbed.  I’m assuming that they had sound issues on set because it appears that everyone is speaking English.  But all dialog, other than Eric Foster’s is delivered in a strange, stilted, emotionless pattern that doesn’t match anyone’s lip movements.  It adds to a hallucinatory vibe that permeates the whole film and kind of separates Paul from the adults in a strange way.  The film reminded me of the ’53 version of Invaders From Mars.  Both films are about a young boy who has a secret and none of the adults believe him.  Of course, in Invaders, the adults act weird because they’ve been taken over by aliens.  There is no easy answer here.  Also, there’s a scene early in the film that sort of mirrors Jimmy Hunt watching the Martians land in that earlier film in which Bigfoot warns Paul that his dad is in danger.  The parallels are probably completely unintentional. 

Cry Wilderness 04

Both films look pretty damned good on Vinegar Syndrome’s double feature DVD.  In Search of Bigfoot is presented in it’s original full frame aspect ratio (the film was shot in 16mm).  For a low budget 16mm documentary, the film looks pretty good.  Cry Wilderness is presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 ratio.  This film looks much better of course.  There is some nice detail and colors look great.  There is some terrible looking video footage spliced into the beginning of the film though.  I’m not really sure what that’s about.  Is it part of the original film?  It looks like it is but there’s no real reason why it should be there.  It’s very short though so it’s not much of a distraction.

Cry Wilderness 01

Rating: ★★★★☆

- who has written 151 posts on UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews.

Craig hails from 'Parts Unknown'.

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