It goes without saying that I get a little giddy whenever I come across a new Bigfoot movie. Which seems odd, since most of them are so terrible. If horror is the red headed stepchild of cinema, Bigfoot is the redheaded step-beast of the genre.
That being said, there has been an upswing in Squatch movies the past few years. In fact, one of my favorite flicks was Exists, the found footage Bigfoot thriller by Eduardo Sanchez.
Ever since I saw just the poster for HUNTING GROUNDS, I’ve been dying to see it. I even saved it on my Instagram account to remind myself to watch it as soon as it came out. Well, the time is nigh!
This latest foray into Squatch Horror is brought to us by Uncork’d Entertainment, the company that has released cool flicks like It Watches and After Death. Hunting Grounds centers around a father and son (played by Jason Vail and Miles Joris-Peyrafitte) down on their luck, recovering from the loss of their wife/mother. Dad’s drinking has cost him his job and now their house. They have nowhere else to go but the family’s dilapidated cabin in the woods.
Little do they know, the cabin is smack in the middle of the infamous Ape Canyon. Squatch devotees like myself will be giddy over the reference. You see, back in 1924, a group of miners were attacked in their cabin by a band of highly pissed off Bigfoot who rained rocks and fists on the small structure for an entire night. In the world of Bigfoot stories, this is right in the top 5. Kudos to the filmmakers for doing some research! Also, once you know the true story, you have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen here.
The family dynamics are at times uncomfortable to watch, and that’s a good thing. Dad is a bit of an ass, a man lost in his grief. His teenage son absorbs his abuse because he knows there’s a good guy deep down inside. Things get even worse for the kid when his father’s absolute asshole of a friend shows up at the cabin to do some drinking. This friend, Sergio (David Saucedo), is possibly the biggest jerkoff I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. You want this schmuck to get it in the worst possible way.
The cast, though small, is filled with familiar faces in the horror scene. You’ll be like me, checking IMDB and going, “Oh yeah, that’s where I saw him!”
The father’s brother-in-law also comes to visit, and the foursome go out hunting. Let’s just say, things go downhill from there.
Look, I know Bigfoot movies aren’t going to be high art…yet. That’s what they used to say about comic book movies. What I want is to be entertained and to see some Squatches. Hunting Grounds gives us a glimpse of Bigfoot within the first few minutes. Score one in the win column. Too many of these movies wait for the reveal in the last couple of minutes.
Also score one for no CGI. The Bigfoot creatures are all practical effects, which were decent. I will say, they are huge. I would have liked a little articulation in their faces so they didn’t look so much like masks, but that’s quibbling. What I got was a trio of enormous Squatches wreaking havoc on the cabin and the puny humans inside.
That’s not to say that Bigfoot is the bad guy here. On the contrary, they’re more curious than anything else. It’s only when they’re provoked that they strike back, and in some pretty cool ways. There is some good gore in the final act, which was pleasant to see as well.
If you have lazy Saturday and you’re tired of watching the dreck on the SyFy channel, definitely fire Hunting Grounds up. Or have some friends over for a booze n’ Bigfoot night and have a ball.
Give a Squatch a watch!
One year before the runaway hit, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (and now we know there’s a new one coming soon), the film that would usher in a whole new horror filmmaking subgenre – found footage – there was a chilling mockumentary called THE LAST BROADCAST. The quality may not have been as good as Blair Witch, but I think that’s what made it all the more chilling. Why didn’t it hit it big? It all came down to that new fangled thing, the internet. In 1999, The creators of Blair Witch used the power of internet viral marketing before it was even called viral marketing. In 1998, THE LAST BROADCAST didn’t have that same hype, with people assuming the film was real before it even came out. The producers had a web presence, but they weren’t quite as savvy. It came and went, largely ignored.
Which is sad, because in some ways, THE LAST BROADCAST is even scarier. When you watch it, you feel like you’re viewing something that shouldn’t be seen. I’m not going to say it’s the bees knees, but for one of the first entries in found footage, it’s up there with The Poughkeepsie Tapes (which can give you a case of the everlasting goosebumps).
Here’s my favorite part of THE LAST BROADCAST. In it, two guys with a local cable access show set off into New Jersey’s Pine Barrens to search for The Jersey Devil. Sign me up. I’ve been to the Barrens. Even without a legendary creature, the place is spooky as hell.
Check out the trailer :
I first saw the entire movie on YouTube, but it’s since been taken down. However, you can now grab a copy at The Last Broadcast website.
Now, remember, this is a low budget flick. Making the hosts some dudes with a cable access show was the perfect framework to set expectations in terms of film and production quality. It’s done that way on purpose, but also allows the viewer to make some concessions. Don’t expect any crazy creature effects. This is all about atmosphere and mystery.
If you’re a horror and cryptid completist like me, I strongly urge you to check it out. And I triple dog dare you to venture out into the Pine Barrens at night.