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!
At some point while I was watching the premier of THE VOID (meh), my latest Severed Press book, SAVAGE JUNGLE (LAIR OF THE ORANG PENDEK), came screaming into this world like a demented squatch baby.
They are called the Orang Pendek, masters of the steamy Sumatran rain forest.
Henrik Kooper watched his father die at the brutal hands of the orange-haired ape men. Having barely survived helping twins Natalie and Austin McQueen discover and destroy the beasts lurking in Loch Ness, it’s now his turn for vengeance. Within the treacherous jungles of Sumatra lies the fabled lost city of Gadang Ur. Its secrets are guarded by a savage band of Orang Pendek who lord over the strange and deadly creatures of the hidden land. Utter madness is the lifeblood of Gadang Ur. Henrik’s journey into darkness will take them to the ragged edge of hell on Earth.
Some places were never meant to be discovered.
As an added bonus, here’s a sample chapter to get you in the mood for some Orang Pendek fury…
Austin handed Natalie a gun. She couldn’t remember what kind it was, but it was heavy and looked deadly. He said to Oscar, “Do we just stay here and mow them down?”
“Heavens no,” Henrik said, calmly slamming a cartridge home in his assault weapon of choice. “We’d never survive. The hope is that our guns frighten them enough to veer them away from our position.”
Natalie shrugged her shoulders. “Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?”
The ground shook as they came crashing closer. Their terrified bellows echoed throughout the jungle. Hearing them, feeling them, but not being able to see where they were coming from was absolutely terrifying.
Oscar said, “Just be ready to run. If we get split up, we meet back here.”
“Easy for you to say,” Austin said, the muscles in his neck bulging like ropes. “I have no freaking clue where here is.”
Henrik coolly added, “Just follow the path the elephants are sure to make. They’re better and faster than bulldozers.”
Natalie’s knees nearly buckled. She wasn’t sure if it was from exhaustion, fear, or the rumbling of the earth, which was making it hard to keep her footing.
Please take a detour. Please take a detour. Nothing to see here. No need to trample the Orang Pendek hunters.
She hadn’t noticed the porters taking their machetes to the brush behind them, clearing a bit of a path for their escape. At least it gave them some room to step back and see which way the elephants were going. Bambang handed his machete over to her.
“No, you keep it,” she said.
He shook his head, refusing to let her give it back to him.
“They’re definitely headed straight for us,” Oscar said, taking a blind shot with the elephant gun. The report was deafening. Henrik fired off a few rounds as well. Then Austin joined in.
“Is it doing anything?”
The look Oscar flashed didn’t ease her fears.
They all stepped back as far as they could go, until their backs were against the endless wall of vegetation. Natalie almost tripped over an exposed root as thick as her calf. Austin reached out and grabbed her by her shirt.
“I’m shitting myself. Is anyone else shitting themselves?” she asked.
“I think it’s safe to say we’re all going to need a change of pants,” her brother said, eyes locked dead ahead.
There came a great crashing of branches and trees, centuries-old oaks snapping like dry toothpicks. The jungle tableau swayed back and forth in anticipation of the runaway freight train of excited pachyderms.
Now, even Natalie joined in their desperate attempt to scare them off with firepower. The gun’s kickback smashed the stock into her ribs. She didn’t feel a thing. Abject fear had made her numb.
When the first elephant broke through, rearing its trunk with an ear-splitting roar, she could only stare with mute horror. Everyone had stopped firing their weapons.
She felt a hand at her collar, someone tugging her backwards.
Natalie couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
A second, third, fourth and so many more elephants came crashing into view, their eyes wild not with terror but unadulterated menace.
Because they weren’t alone.
Riding atop each wild elephant was a small, orange-haired being that looked like a cross between an orangutan and a man.
The Orang Pendek rode the elephant herd right at them, crying out with beastly wails that turned her bowels to water.
I just got this ‘Mail a Bigfoot’ postcard with my delivery of squatchy goods from the International Cryptozoology Museum. You can cut out the Bigfoot parts to make your own little hairy guy. I’m going to mail my squatch to one lucky winner. All you need to do is drop a comment on this post with a way for me to reach you. I’ll do a random drawing in a week and announce who gets to adopt Mr. Foot. 🙂
If you can’t get to the museum in Portland, Maine, you can visit it online, check out the curiosities, shop the gift shop or simply donate to keep the wonder alive. Visit their website for more!
Meanwhile, my new Bigfoot has made some fast friends here in the Shea compound. BFFs already!
Some time ago I posted a slew of Bigfoot movies where you could settle down and get your squatch on. Well, it’s time for an update because there is no shortage of cryptid interest out there and a whole lot of fiction books about our hairy cousins…at least by marriage. Here are some of the books and movies I’ve devoured over the past couple of months.
DEEP DARK WOODS BY TY SCHWAMBERGER
Of the Sasquatch books I’ve read and downloaded lately, this has my favorite cover. And the story inside doesn’t disappoint. Yes, there are folks trapped in the woods being hunted down by one pissed off BF, but the plot twist at the end is a huge, sick payoff. Ty is a very good writer and obviously loves his subject. This one did win kudos for mentioning the big guy’s dong several times. One of the hornier squatches you’ll ever want to meet. I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 squatch prints.
THE LAST GUNFIGHTER : SUDDEN FURY BY WILLIAM W. JOHNSTONE
OK, I know this seems like a strange one. It’s also proof that Bigfoot and I are somehow psychically connected. I was in the bookstore one day specifically to buy a couple of western novels. If you’ve read my book HELL HOLE, you know I dig a good western yarn. Amazingly, the first one I pick up concerns a logging company being driven out of the forest by what appears to be a Bigfoot. Well, I had to get it. I won’t give away whether there’s a cryptid or not stalking the woods, but damn this was fun. Gun slinging and searching for Sasquatch? Count me in. 4 out of 5 squatch prints.
SKOOK BY WILLIAM R. BURKETT JR.
I literally got this book because I liked saying the title – over and over again. Drove my kids crazy. Turns out this is a damn fine story about a man and his young son and the terrifying encounters they have with a posse of Skooks – which, of course, are squatches. There’s actually a generations-old agreement between the skooks and ‘chosen’ humans who live in relative peace, but sometimes lines are crossed. There is an attack at a cabin that actually left me breathless. Worth it for that scene alone. 4 out of 5 squatch prints.
HUNTING THE LEGEND
Moving on to movies, I’ve found at least a dozen squatch flicks that have been made over the past 15 years. I’ve got a lot of squatching-watching to do! I started with this one on a cold morning with time to kill. For some reason, Bigfoot leads itself to found footage. Not sure why. This one has some kid bent on revenge because Bigfoot killed his daddy when they were on a hunting trip years earlier. The acting is what you’d expect. I’m not going to say to run out and see this one, but if it’s free and you have some downtime, check it out. There are parts by the end that are a bit creepy. 2 of 5 squatch prints.
I have been dying to see this Bobcat Goldthwait movie ever since I heard about it well over a year ago. Again, found footage. But this time it’s done right. A couple goes to the site of the famous Patterson-Gimlin film to see if BF is still lurking about. There’s a slow build up with some genuine laughs. Of course, they’re warned not to go there, which they ignore. Once they settle into their tent for the night, things go ape shit. It’s just the camera trained on them reacting to the sounds outside. I was tense as hell – and I’m one jaded old horror fan. I dug it, and now I have to find a way to own it. 4 1/2 out of 5 squatch prints.
Do you have any Bigfoot gems I may have missed? Share it with the class. You never know. If I like it, I may just give you a reward.
It’s that time again to go through my grab bag of people, places and things that have grabbed my interest and, in some cases, admiration. When it comes to horror and all things preternatural, I’m a total junkie. Even if I quit my job, I don’t think I’d have enough time in my day to read, watch and listen to everything that interests me.
So, seeing as we all have limited time in our busy lives, I’ll present you with a half dozen items you can check out at your leisure. They all get the Hunter Bloody Seal of Approval.
Websites. Don’t be fooled by the name, Who Forted is a treasure trove of all things strange and paranormal, not an ode to flatulence. The FORT comes from Charles Fort, the writer and researcher who delved into the world of the unexplained, giving rise to the phrase Fortean or Forteana to describe the mysterious and unfathomable. Who Forted is packed with videos, articles and discussions on everything from aliens to black-eyed kids and, in a current post, monster vomit. Come on, who isn’t curious about monster vomit??
Movies. The only problem with The Bigfoot Hunter : Still Searching is that it’s only an hour long. You can watch it for free on YouTube. It’s a low budget documentary created by a handful of young guys following a couple of, shall we say eccentric, Bigfoot hunters. It’s funny, at times creepy and a tad frightening. And I’m not talking about Bigfoot doing the scares. A must see for any squatcher.
Podcasts. I’ve become seriously addicted to the Mysterious Universe podcast. I download each weekly episode from iTunes. Hosted by a pair of informed, entertaining Aussies, this has become one of my favorte podcasts. From their own website, they describe their show as : bringing you the latest news and podcasts covering the strange, extraordinary, weird, wonderful and everything in between. We strive to maintain a balance of healthy skepticism and entertainment while never losing our sense of humour.
Books. Fellow Samhainer Russell James is the proud poppa of a bouncing, baby book, his third with our illustrious publisher. Black Magic is one of the most original, gripping books I’ve read in a long while. You have to check this one out. Here’s the book’s description. Just click on the cover to order a copy from Amazon today.
In this magic shop the magic is real. And the trick is on you.
Citrus Glade is a dying town that needs new businesses, but the one that just opened is doing much more harm than good. Stranger Lyle Miller’s magic shop seems to only stock what its select customers desire. When four outcast boys buy common party tricks, only Lyle knows what those tricks can really do. As subtle changes occur around town, a few residents realize that something is amiss…and getting worse. But it may already be too late. Lyle’s black magic has empowered more townspeople to help him execute his Grand Adventure, a plan that will reduce the town, and half the state, to rubble.
Short Stories. I came across Allison M. Dickson’s short stories while cruising through Amazon on my Kindle. She has a good number of taught, thought provoking, horrific stories out there, each for under a buck! So far, I’ve read Vermin, Dust and Taste and have dug them all. Perfect little appetizers that you can devour any time you’re hungry for horror.
EVPs. There’s something about EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) that just sends a tingle down my back. I’m sure a lot of them have a natural explanation, but even if just 5% are genuine, that’s enough to give me the willies. You can check out a bunch of them at Texas Wind Talker. Best listened to during a sunny day with people close by.
Today marks the start of something new for me. Every couple of months, I’m going to post a hodge-podge of places to go and people to see on the internet, all of them horror and paranormal related. These are the locations, people and achievements that have captured my imagination and gratitude. They are wellsprings of inspiration, information, entertainment and mental edification. Find something that interests you and give them a lookey-loo…
Congratulations goes out to Robert Rumery on the publication of his first comic, The Grove, from WhatTheFlux Comics. If you know me, you know I’m a horror comic junkie. Nice job, Robert. I can’t wait to get my grubby little hands on it.
Looking for great horror books at steep discounts…or even free? Author, editor and all around cool dude in a loose mood, Brian James Freeman has started eHorror Bargains, your one-stop-shop for the best in horror. All of your horror deals are right here. Stop by and load up your e-reader!
Book Reviews. I have 2 places where you can go to get tons of book reviews (and if you’re an author, query them to have your book spotlighted). The first is Oh, for the HOOK of a BOOK. Super reviewer Erin covers multiple genres as well as author interviews. She is the hardest working book reviewer out there today and a lot of writerly types owe her our gratitude.
Another mega-review site is Matt Molgaard’s Horror Novel Reviews. Matt and his team do an excellent job of reviewing not only new horror works, but classics and older hidden gems. If you need to stock up your horror library, this is the place to go. Then head to eHorror Bargains and see if you can get some of them without busting your budget.
Bigfoot. You know I can’t help myself from throwing something about the hairy fella in here. Huge thanks to Scott Albright who brought this post to my attention (actually, it’s as large as a novella) about Bigfoot and why no one has found their bones or bodies. Author Robert Lindsay did some yeoman’s work putting this together. Must read for all you squatchers!
Ghosts & The Supernatural. The definitive place to get everything you need about the world of the paranormal is Jeff Belanger’s Ghost Village. This is the Bible for everyone interested in what lies beyond the veil. You can also sign up for their free monthly newsletter.
Books. I’m super excited that my book release partner on April 2nd is the uber-talented Jonathan Janz. His new book, The Darkest Lullaby, comes out the same day as my Sinister Entity. Here’s a link to a review of his book. He has one of the coolest cover in the Samhain library.
Podcasts. My newest podcast addiciotn is Darkness Radio, a radio show broadcast out of the Twin Cities. You can listen to their archives online or through iTunes. These guys have a damn good time talking about the world of the strange and the unexplained. Love their take on things.
OK, that about does it for this month. I hope you stop by some or all of these great places and supoprt them. If there are hot spots you think I should know about, send them to me and I’ll include them in future posts.