Night Claws (2012)

I present to you what might be the ultimate ISCFC movie, a culmination of so many different review threads and interests that we’ve shown in our 6 years of operation (don’t worry, we’re carrying on. As long as there are weird B-movies, we’ll be here). So here goes:

Reb Brown! He was in two Bruno Mattei / Claudio Fragasso movies (“Robowar” and “Strike Commando”), an Albert Pyun movie (“The Sword And The Sorceror”), a cheap superhero movie (“Captain America”), an MST3K episode (“Space Mutiny”), and the not very great “Yor, The Hunter From The Future”.

Sherrie Rose! She’s been in teen raunch (“Lauderdale” and all-time classic “Summer Job”), martial arts movies (“No Retreat, No Surrender” parts 3 and 4), an old David A Prior movie (1992’s “Double Threat”) and a bunch of genre gems that I watched before I started working for this site and never got round to re-covering – “Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight” and the Cynthia Rothrock classic “Martial Law 2: Undercover”, to name but two.

Leilani Sarelle! After being very good in “Basic Instinct” (she was Sharon Stone’s girlfriend) she was not very good in Italian 80s horror “Neon Maniacs”.

Frank Stallone! The all-important “relative of someone much more famous” quotient of ISCFC reviews (see: Joe Estevez, Chris Mitchum, many others), he’s also been in “The Roller Blade Seven”, in the conversation for all-time worst ISCFC movie.

The “we can’t close the local festival even though there’s loads of deaths or we’ll ruin the economy” plot!

Sasquatch movie!

David A Prior! The director who’s filled our review schedule for the last six months or so.

All we’re missing is a link to Donald Farmer, Charles Band, and Len Kabasinski, and this would be at the centre of some FBI agent’s board, with bits of string going to all these other photos and genres (when they were trying to work out why I went crazy and committed those heinous acts, obviously).

Anyway, I suppose I’d better get on with it. Several different groups of people descend on the woods outside of Mobile, Alabama (which we’ve come to know and love as the budgets of Prior movies have gone down the toilet) – first up, is two couples and a guide, who’ve gone for a three-day wilderness adventure, learning to live off the land. Of interest to us is Ted Prior as Charlie and his trophy wife Cindy (Alissa Koenig, who was also in “Zombie Wars” and apparently retired from the acting game after this movie). Anyway, Charlie is, for absolutely no reason we’re ever given, a tightly wound ball of rage, threatening to murder the husband of the other couple after knowing him for about 30 seconds and nothing but wildly hostile to everyone he meets. I can’t help but think he told his brother that’s how he was going to play the character and David never bothered writing any explanation into the script.

Group two is led by Colonel Hunter Crawford, played by returning David A Prior villain David Campbell. Now, Campbell’s character has the same name and rank as his character from 1985’s “Killzone”, but whether this is a pointless Easter egg for us Prior obsessives or he just forgot is a question that we may never get answered. They’re huntin’ something!

Group three is the cops, led by Reb Brown and Sherrie Rose, who are just starting on a relationship, it would seem. I’m not sure even Alabama cops allow their deputies to wear their shirt as low-buttoned and cleavage-revealing as Sherrie Rose, but never mind. They’re accompanied by group four, which is Sarah (Sarelle), a scientist from a local-ish college, and her assistant.

All of a sudden, Bigfoot has awoken and started killing people, and that’s all the explanation we get. There’s a subplot about the real reason one of the characters is there which may or may not tie into “Killzone” (I mercifully remember almost nothing about it), but that’s about your lot.

“Night Claws” features some of the all-time worst “day for night” shots ever – when it’s very obviously daytime but the film is either underexposed or darkened in post-production to make it appear like it’s night. They even film a fire, which looks every bit as murky as the background around it, which is just lazy.

We’re also treated to a stealthy sasquatch, as the 8-foot tall, huge, hairy beast is able to get the drop on our human characters over and over again. I don’t care how naturally agile you are, if you’re that big, someone would hear you coming. And then there’s a few twists at the end which just leave you annoyed. Also high on the annoyance scale is how major characters are just killed off seemingly at random, as if the people who’d made this had no idea how drama works.

I’m genuinely delighted we’re getting to the end of this series now, dear reader. This might as well be a SyFy Channel original movie, just one with an older cast who’s slightly better at acting; I’m just annoyed now. I think I’ve found the person to blame, and that’s Fabio Soldani. He appears to be a rich kid who wanted to be a producer so threw some money at David A Prior – he also has story credits on these later movies, so I guess he went “hey David, I want you to do a sasquatch thing”. He even appears as a money man in the next Prior movie, so I may be on to something.

Anyway. Avoid, obviously.

Rating: thumbs down

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Bigfoot’s Wild Weekend (2012)

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I can forgive low-budget movies a lot of things – poor special effects, lack of sets, lack of star power, among many others – but one thing I can’t forgive is when they get stuff wrong that doesn’t cost any extra to get right. “Bigfoot’s Wild Weekend” features editing so poor that characters are seen staring off to the side, waiting for the “action” call, before starting the scene; and there are multiple examples of people stepping on each others’ lines. Seriously, how short for time were you that you couldn’t do a take 2 of anything?

For the first twenty minutes or so, I was convinced that this was an “adult” film parody, so rotten and stupid was everything about it. We basically have three groups of people – one, campers from the Hyman Reform School for Girls (that counts as a joke by this film’s standards), two, a reporter for a National Enquirer style newspaper, a TV reporter and the Sheriff, and three, all the drunk, stoned or just stupid locals. They wander round the woods trying to find Bigfoot, eventually there’s a mind-buggeringly stupid twist and the film just sort of ends, like a deflating balloon.

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But before the film ends, we have a few pauses – the most important of which is for a stripping contest at the local bar, which joins those from “Cybernator” and “Agent Beetle” as the worst and ugliest strip clubs ever captured on film. A bunch of women in swimwear gyrate around for the remarkably excited rednecks, then eventually there’s an award and the women fight for it. Hahaha! Two of the reform school girls decide to have sex, and it was so boring to look at and went on so long that I eventually just fast-forwarded through it. Sorry, perverts! This film is too boring.

Some of the acting is so bad that I’m convinced a few of the cast had not only never acted before, but never heard of the concept of acting until they were shoved on the set. The school has a security guard, an English woman, who just shouts all her dialogue; and the journalist, maybe the central role in the movie, just looks incredibly nervous all the time (plus, for a reporter, he carries nothing with him – no notepad, no Dictaphone, no camera). The nerdy girl from the reform school has a huge, terrible wig on, which makes me wonder if some of the cast are actually adult movie stars and they’re not used to acting fully clothed. I really want to understand why they made it so bad! Are these the best actors they could find?

Just so I’m not all a negative nelly, it is funny from time to time (they could have really used a rewrite from a proper comedy writer though), and the super-local advertising is a welcome throwback to the micro-budget creature features of the 70s and early 80s that would have repeated mentions of some local bar, or how the town next door was ugly and stupid.

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But just to be clear, I am being really negative. This film was beyond terrible, like a joke between two high school stoners that amazingly made it to the screen. If they were aiming for “dumbest ending ever”, then that might be the only target they came close to hitting.

Rating: thumbs down

Bigfoot Wars (2014)

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Is “bestselling” one of those words, like “natural”, or “inspired by a true story”, that can be used without any regard for the actual meaning? Because I was surprised to find out that the series of novels that this film is based on is bestselling, when I’d lay good money on the fact that Eric Brown’s Bigfoot-themed adventures have topped no sales charts, anywhere (with the possible exception of “self-published fake creature novellas, to members of the Brown family”, and even then only just).

If you’re not buying my from-the-off negativity, it seems that the stars of the film feel the same way I do. C Thomas Howell tweeted at his fans not to buy this movie, due to unspecified “post-production problems”, and one of his co-stars sent a message to her friend praying that she was cut out of the finished film, so bad was it. But it’s probably not that rubbish, is it?

Oh, god, we’re in Boggy Creek! ISCFC readers may remember our coverage of “The Legend of Boggy Creek” and “Boggy Creek”, plus MST3K did “Boggy Creek:…and the Legend Continues”. Despite the original films not being set in Boggy Creek – no town of that name exists, as far as I can tell, and the first two films are set around Fouke, Arkansas – there’s been a virtual torrent of rural Bigfoot movies released since the death of original director / producer Charles Pierce in 2010, and they’re all set in Boggy Creek, because imagination is the endangered species in this decade.

After starting with the introduction and killing of 6 of the biggest douchebags you’re ever likely to see (well, one of them survives), I thought there was half a chance this film would turn out okay. But it gets bad quickly. The Sheriff, despite this being a giant monster in the woods thriller, has a voiceover which feels lifted straight from a film noir, with the strong suspicion it was put in to fill in the holes in filming. The eagle-eyed among you may wonder why he’s not wearing a proper sheriff’s hat, too.

Top billed C Thomas Howell as crazy (but ultimately decent) redneck Zeke doesn’t show up til over halfway into the 75 minute movie, and Judd Nelson, as the drug addicted doctor who suspects bigfoot attacks, is barely in the movie at all. There’s a local news anchor who becomes an investigative journalist, and admittedly I don’t watch a ton of TV news but do those people exist any more? Aren’t all the TV stations owned by corporations who don’t want to upset other corporations? Oh, and there’s a bigfoot attack at a local drive-in cinema that barely anyone seems to notice. Perhaps ten feet tall monsters are commonplace in their neck of the woods.

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If that’s not enough to worry you, let’s talk technical shortcomings. Daylight turns to night in seconds, and I think there was a microphone providing “room tone” that was on the fritz, as it kept cutting in and out. The Sheriff has a chat with his daughter near the beginning, and for absolutely no reason the two of them aren’t ever shown in the same shot; it’s not like one of them’s a big star who they could only afford for half a day’s filming. The music that plays over the end credit sounds like – if you can believe this – an even worse version of Kid Rock, a band called the Moonshine Bandits. Oh, and one of the cars has a Rand Paul sticker in the window, indicating that someone involved in the making of this film is a raging Tea Party asshole.

Perhaps the sole decent thing in this film is C Thomas Howell. From the cusp of the A-list in the mid 1980s, he must have made a few bad decisions or annoyed the wrong people, because he’s not really headlined a film that looked worth a damn in over 20 years. He’s made some smart TV decisions recently, though, with fantastic recurring roles on “Criminal Minds”, “Grimm” and “Southland” so perhaps he does films like “Bigfoot Wars” for a laugh now. I’m at a loss as to any other way to explain his amazing performance in this, one of the wildest overacting jobs in years. If only the rest of the film was as much fun as him.

Obviously, avoid this film like the plague. Bigfoot annoys me. They’re exactly as real as zombies, vampires and unicorns, but with the other three there aren’t a thousand awful TV programs with under-educated fools with guns trying to track them down. If only someone would put critical thinking on the curriculum in US schools. But yes, terrible film.

Rating: thumbs down

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