(This review was originally posted on September 12, 2011. It’s being re-posted to go with the next NO-BUDGET NIGHTMARES podcast. Read my interview with SUBURBAN SASQUATCH director Dave Wascavage right here)
How seriously can you take a movie called SUBURBAN SASQUATCH? Or, perhaps more importantly, how seriously SHOULD you take a movie called SUBURBAN SASQUATCH? Compared to the films we’ve featured thus far in No-Budget Nightmares, Dave Wascavage’s goofy Bigfoot film has actually gotten a shocking amount of mainstream press. But the tone of these reviews or articles tend to imply that Dave didn’t get the joke. That he didn’t know that he was making a big, silly, violent monster movie featuring a man in an (impressively endowed) gorilla suit. That he didn’t realize that tearing off a man’s leg and beating him with it would be hilarious to watch. That he didn’t realize he was making a movie called SUBURBAN SASQUATCH.
I’m going to give Dave the benefit of the doubt on this one – his production company’s motto is Z Grade Horror, Sci-Fi and Comedy at its best, after all – but just because a movie is trying to be intentionally silly, it doesn’t mean that all of these criticisms are unfounded. There are some pretty glaring technical problems which can make a viewing of SUBURBAN SASQUATCH an often frustrating experience, but it’s also fun in a way that most b-movie tributes don’t even approach. There’s a commitment to the concept, an unwillingness to wink at the camera, that separates Wascavage’s effort from the slew of no-budget movies which revel in their own awfulness. This isn’t Ed Wood or Tommy Wiseau, this is a director well aware of his own limitations and striving to make the most entertaining film possible under those impediments.
Does he succeed? Well, no matter your thoughts on SS it’s certainly rarely boring. There’s enough gory monster attacks, spiritual mumbo-jumbo, magical arrows, hard-nosed journalism and police car flinging for any ten Bigfoot movies you can name. We open with a couple driving through a wooded area to a party. We’re somewhere in rural Pennsylvania, and the two share some insipid (and oddly repetitive) dialogue about whether they’ll have a good time. But forget all that, here comes a SASQUATCH! The creature jumps out in front of them with his trademark Atari 2600-on-the-fritz growl and starts shaking their car around, before breaking their window and ripping the couple to bits, including an arm severing that… well.. looks like this:
Yep. It’s at this point that you should know whether this movie is going to be for you, as it features all of the elements which are going to make up the rest of the run-time. We have our awful, awful acting. It’s par for the course when working with folks who have little or no previous experience, and even the best actors you’ll see here are strictly at community theater level. We have our frequent day-for-night shooting – just make everything blue! We have CG-assisted gore that usually consists of a combination of rubber limbs and a notably fake-looking stream of blood squirting out.
And we have our creature, which appears to be your standard gorilla costume, altered to be given a huge rack, some painted on abs, and a face that only a mother could love. Unexpectedly, the Sasquatch also has supernatural powers which include invulnerability, teleportation, super strength, and the ability to CG the shit out of his surroundings. He kills randomly, though also occasionally drags off a victim to his cave for some old-fashioned sexual assaults. I bet the inside of the suit smells horrible. Just saying. But let’s get back to the plot.
Rick Harlan (Bill Ushler) is a bland doofus who dreams of someday being a big shot reporter, a dream helped by having a contact in the local police department (which appears to consist of two people) who tips him off regarding a recent unexplained string of gruesome attacks. Unable to get much traction with his editor, Rick bumbles around until he bumps into the Native-American warrior Talla (the too-attractive-for-this-movie Sue Lynn Sanchez) who is on the hunt for the elusive Bigfoot, a (magical?) creature that apparently feeds off of fear, or anger, or something. The local police force, headed by the headstrong, reporter-hating Officer John, have been repressing news about the murders, since big ol’ John had a sasquatch encounter years before. It even carried off his girlfriend! Rick and Talla have a rather combative relationship based on Rick almost getting himself killed, but it eventually blossoms into thoughts of love (or, at least kissing). The Sasquatch proceeds to kill the townspeople in various messy ways, until the whole thing comes to a ridiculous head in Rick’s grandmother’s house. You get magical arrows, computer generated tomahawks, and some neato electricity effects for good measure.
I’m no stranger to the limitations of low-budget film-making. I’ve even dabbled in doing weak CG effects for a no-budget feature, so I feel confident in saying that Suburban Sasquatch likely has some of the goofiest gore effects you’re likely to see, but in being so bad they somehow end up being much more entertaining than if they had been done well. Terrible CG arrows embed into our titular (with an emphasis on tit – this is a boobular Sasquatch) creature, and there’s a memorable scene where our Bigfoot friend raises a police car over his head that.. well.. I can’t rightfully describe why it’s so amazing. A cut out of a low resolution picture of the car has obviously been placed over the monster, and it’s just as silly as you’re probably hoping.
Perhaps the most infamous scene involves the (suburban) Sasquatch’s encounter with a pair of local fishermen. Just two good old boys drinking and farting without a care in the world, until they are set-upon by our furry antagonist. First he rips out the heart of Dave, the first fisherperson, before making a fine effort at making him eat his own innards. Then he rips off Dave’s arm and throws it at his pal, knocking him into the water which serves to immediately make him unconscious. Our sasquatch friend bellows his infamous television static roar of satisfaction into the sky. Beautiful.
Yeah, the editing is a bit choppy. Sure the audio is sometimes incomprehensible. But it also has an energy and enthusiasm that trumps any number of films with bigger budgets and better equipment. Wescavage has made an effort to create something big and fun, and while you might be baffled by some of the more bizarre touches on display – it all adds to a sense of unhinged madness that is infectious. This isn’t high art, but it’s incredibly entertaining, which is a rather massive accomplishment. Look at the pictures. Watch the clips. If they appeal to you at all, then you must watch SUBURBAN SASQUATCH.
Two Nightmares out of Five
One Nightmare – No-Budget Perfection, Two Nightmares – Shocking Success, Three Nightmares – Shows Potential, Four Nightmares – Not Much Fun, Five Nightmares – Please Kill Me
Join Daily Grindhouse contributor Moe Porne and I for the next NO-BUDGET NIGHTMARES podcast where we’ll be discussing SUBURBAN SASQUATCH!
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